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Veerappan review: Sensational and Gripping!

Veerappan review: Sensational and Gripping!

Source: General

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Saturday 28 May 2016

Movie Title

Veerappan review: Sensational and Gripping!

Director

Ram Gopal Varma

Star Cast

Sandeep Bharadwaj, Lisa Ray, Sachiin J Joshi

There it is again—the camera panning across the wide, unending expanse of the forest symbolizing Veerappan’s voracious ambition. Veerappan—a name that, even a decade after his death, still makes one react. Wanted for more than a hundred murders, reportedly the dreaded dacoit began by poaching ivory and sandalwood, and then began killing those that stood in his way.

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We’re shown the ruthlessness of his ways—his gang attacking a person till they die, him killing several of his own men because he suspects one of them, and Veerappan (this is really horrific to watch) first injuring an elephant, killing the half-alive animal, and then pulling out its magnificent tusks.

His life in the jungle has a bit of warmth and domesticity in the form of his wife Muthulakshmi, who cribs about her old, torn sarees while cooking lunch.

Veerappan (Sandeep Bharadwaj) is pretty clear as far as his career goals are concerned. He idolizes LTTE founder Prabhakaran, and wants to meet him to further his prospects. Ultimately, he says in the film, he wants to be “international famous”.

Sachiin Joshi steps in as the cop who has made arresting/killing Veerappan his life’s mission. Part of a Special Task Force with a mission to nail Veerappan, he and his team fail miserably for the most part.

In fact some of their attempts are so dim (including that of a disguise) that you agree when one of the characters says “meri intelligence ka mazaak mat udana.” At one point a teen boy is sent in the forest with a message for Veerappan. The Task Force is hanging around there. Why they couldn’t follow the boy or involve him in reaching the dacoit is a mystery. Another time, they are “taken by surprise” when Veerappan surfaces when that was exactly what they had wanted. And in another instance, a scenario where one of Veerappan’s men has kidnapped a child is handled so badly that it ends up with murder of an innocent character.

All this goes on till the cop (who wears jackets in sweltering torture rooms) hits upon a plan that seriously stretches the limits of moral ambiguity. The plan involves the mourning widow of an officer (Lisa Ray) who was killed by Veerappan and the dacoit’s own wife Muthulakshmi (Usha Jadhav).

There’s some philosophizing about who is the biggest rakshas (monster) among the two of them (the cop and the dacoit), ruthless as they are in achieving what they want. There’s a lot of killing in there by both parties. Not to mention the trail of emotional violence they leave behind.

Sandeep Bharadwaj as Veerappan is outstanding (he has also essayed the role in the Kannada version). Bharadwaj brings out the dacoit’s ruthlessness, ambition, and vulnerability with such earnestness, you cannot help being emotionally invested. At the same time, he doesn’t paint his character as someone you need to have sympathy for, which is quite a feat. Sachiin Joshi’s character lacks gravitas and his performance is serviceable. Usha Jadhav’s performance is again a strong, impactful one. Lisa Ray suits the role but comes up with an inconsistent act.

The jungle with its sights and sounds has been beautifully captured in the film by cinematographer Aniket Khandagale.

There’s a snake slithering in the foreground as someone walks past it, chases happen in the middle of raging waterfalls, and elephants trumpet as if they sounding off a premonition.

Now this is Ram Gopal Varma’s first coherent, watchable film in a long time. Hurrah for that! There are several RGV gems here— the scenes where macabre things like gun fights happen against mundane stuff like a kid playing or someone drying clothes. Then there’s the music which is mostly interesting, despite the fact that RGV has seriously ODed on the background score here. It’s highly effective in most scenes, but you pray for a few moments of silence or subtlety. And finally the camerawork that takes a life of its own (thankfully not in the same sense as RGV’S last few films, shudder).

The ending could have been far better. It’s a bit comical to see some of our central characters sitting out and having a nice tea picnic while something so significant is happening.

Still, the film is mostly gripping, sensational and involving. Veerappan’s story with his spectacular rise and fall was a big one. The film does it justice.

Veerappan review: 3 stars

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