Naxalites are hardline leftist, Maoist activists, terrorists or freedom fighters (depending on your point of view) fighting an insurgency against the Indian state. The movement began in West Bengal in the late 1960's but is currently mostly fought in the jungled areas of states of Jharkand and Chhattisgarh.
I've been fascinated by the cinematic representations of these Maoists ever since I first learned about them, and therefore sought out tons of movies that portray Naxalites. In some ways the Naxalites are a contentious topic; some see them as fighting for the rights of the underprivileged, such as the tribal (adivasi) people living in the areas where they're engaged in conflict, while others see them as taking advantage of these people in order to advance their own political agenda. To some they are just criminals and terrorists, to others they're concerned citizens, being angered enough to take up arms against the state. The truth may be a mixture of both of these points of view.
I figured I might as well not watch them on my own but make a blogfest out of it, so here's how it'll work:
1. Watch a film that portrays the Naxalites.
I'll include a list of films in this post, with notes on the films I own and will be blogging about myself. There are quite a bit of these films, in various Indian languages so if Hindi films aren't your thing, you can watch a film in Bengali or Malayalam, for example. There might be films that I'm not aware of and therefore can't list here, so if you find a film that touches on the subject but isn't listed, feel free to watch it!
2. Blog about it during the first two weeks of May!
You don't have to discuss the representation of the Naxalites in the film, it can just be a standard review like you would normally do. You may also review multiple films, films you've already seen, or about the topic more generally, or do whatever you normally do on your blog.
3. Link me to it, either by commenting here or tweeting @veraciously about it!
I'll read it, and collect all the blog post links into a single post by the end of the whole shebang. I expect I'll probably make around 7-10 posts with my own film reviews.
The List (in completely random order, possibly incomplete)
Pratidwandi (Bengali) This film is probably the oldest film about Naxalite, coming out when the initial movement was still happening in West Bengal. It's directed by Satyajit Ray.
Red Alert: The War Within (Hindi)
Hazaroon Khwaishin Aisi (Hindi)
Ko (Tamil) Barely features Naxalites but it's a good film so it's worth a recommendation!
Hazaroon Chaurasi Ki Maa (Hindi)
Veerappa Nayaka (Kannada)
Laal Salaam (Hindi)
The Naxalites (Hindi)
Some of these may be difficult or even impossible to find! I've searched far and wide for the "The Naxalites", for example, and a DVD of Laal Salaam seems equally hard to get my hands on. Regardless, there are some very recent examples, such as Chakravyuh, Thalappavu (which is based on historical events) and Red Alert, which should be more widely available. A lot of these are also critical favourites (Hazaroon Chaurasi Ki Maa, for example), so should make for good viewing based on just that. I own the first 8 films from the list, and plan on reviewing them during the first weeks of May!
So join me, why don't you?