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"Red" - hardly a ripple... Priya Gill and Ajit in the film.

LONG AGO K. Balachander made a classic called ``Thamarai Nenjam''. A decade ago came Maniratnam's ``Nayakan'' and ``Thalapathi''. And recently arrived the famous ``Citizen''. Now we have an amalgam of these in the form of NIC Arts' ``Red''. Yet if ``Red'' fails to make even a very slight impression, it is because the story and emotions lack depth.

When the film begins stating that the title is an earth-shattering acronym (Revolution Education and Development), you wait for something radical and path-breaking. But no ... there is compassion, some mindless violence, a docile retreat, an impulsive retaliation ... and that's about all. Ram Sathya is at the helm with the story, screenplay, dialogue and direction.

It is the story of an orphan called Red (Ajit) — a ruffian, an illiterate, and of course, a do-gooder. When there is a good man there has to be a bad one too. It is Srini (Saleem Ghouse) — but sadly at the end of it all, it is a capable `villain' wasted. Initially it looks that he would be a real threat and danger — but it just fizzles out. Only in the climax, as though he had suddenly realised the need to do something menacing he indulges in a little bloodshed.

Red tries to mend his ways for the sake of the girl he is in love with — Gayathri (Priya Gill). But there is not a single incident to show the strong emotion one has for the other. Incidentally, Priya Gill looks dainty, delicate and beautiful, as all heroines are supposed to be.

The presence of experienced artistes such as Rajesh, Revathi, Raghuvaran and `Nizhalgal' Ravi, in ``Red'', is a puzzle and so is the train load of readers of a Tamil weekly! A purposeless exercise.

It was refreshing to listen to SPB's effective and forthright rendition of the title song — it has been quite some time since you heard the scintillating voice. The composer is Deva. Too many group dance numbers — Raju Sundaram stands out. Sabu Cyril's art and Sreekar Prasad's editing are other noteworthy features of ``Red''. Ajit's forced intonation in the lengthy parts of the dialogue, particularly where he reels off a string of names at a stretch, tests one's patience.

The hero is constantly advised or threatened by his friends and foes. And he responds in a lukewarm manner to both. It would be better if Ajit concentrates on the role he chooses and the way it is developed. Changes in make-up and appearance alone may not be enough Mr. Ajit.


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