The film would have been much better, had RGV chosen better actors
Of course, a biopic on Veerappan was on the cards. After all, we had biopics on Phoolan Devi and Pan Singh Tomar, and they have been appreciated well in their time. Now Ram Gopal Varma returns to Bollywood with the remake of his Kannada hit, Killing Veerappan. Is it the return of the brilliant RGV we once knew and loved for films like Satya, Company and Kaun? Well, the answer is both a yes and no...
What's it about
In October 2004, Veerappan, the most dreaded dacoit in India then, was killed in an operation (Spoiler alert for those who never read papers). The film trails the events few months before that killing. Veerappan (Sandeep Bharadwaj) attacks a army checkpost and kills the officer there. Angered by the incident, the operation of catching the dacoit is given to a ruthless officer, who for some reason has no name (Sachiin Joshi). When Veerappan's wife Muthulakshmi (Usha Jadhav) gets captured during an operation, the Cop gets her released and uses her as a bait to lure Veerappan out. For this, he enlists the help of Shriya (Lisa Ray), the widow of the slain officer. Shriya takes Muthulakshmi in her house, wins her confidence and slyly makes her divulge valuable info which she leaks to the Cop. The Cop uses this info to plan his operations, however his opponent is a smarter cookie. Veerappan is always ahead of him by two moves, resulting in losses in lives on both sides and a near stalemate. When it looks like there is no way to catch him, Veerappan's FAN moment for former LTTE head Prabhakaran proves to be his undoing.
For starters, Veerappan is RGV's return to form, well nearly. You can see the director's stamp in a few scenes, where we are reminded of the old RGV, who could do no wrong then. The way certain sequences are shot show his class, like the botched operation scene before the interval. Or when Veerappan gets hold of the officers who are in guise to capture him, but the tables turn for him later. The cat and the mouse game between the police and the dacoits is nicely depicted. Another feather is Ramu's cap is the fine casting of Sandeep Bharadwaj as Veerappan - the man is spot on in his looks as well as performance. Usha Jadhav, who plays his wife in the film, also delivers a competent performance, though her character lacks meat.
For a film titled Veerappan, we thought the film would focus on his rise to king of the jungle, and how he eluded the police for two decades. Yes, this is shown, but like a crash course for anyone who has no clue who Veerappan is, all within five minutes. Instead the film chooses to focus on the operation that led to Veerappan's doom. Nothing wrong with that, except for that fact that the film hardly lets us empathise and support these arc-less heroes! We don't know any damn thing about the names less hero or his coyotes or why they deem it okay that the widow of a fellow officer be a part of their brutal interrogations. Mostly to be blamed for this is the poor acting. There was a time when RGV had some fine actors at his beck and call. Now he has to make do whomever he gets on spot it seems. Apart from Sandeep and Usha, none of the actors manages to make any sort of impression. Sachiin Joshi looks the part, but his blank dialogue delivery lets him down. A better actor would have made the role more strong. The same goes for Lisa Ray, who reminded me of Nargis Fakhri in Azhar - All pout, no emotions. The less said about the rest of the actors, the better. Ram Gopal Varma's obsession with 'cool' shots also hinders the viewing experience. There is a scene in the end, when the Cop is calmly having tea, with the widow and his senior officer, as the rest of the team guns down the dacoit. It may have sounded awesome on paper, but looked silly on screen. And what's with that eardrum-bursting background score? It occasionally works as a cheerleader for Veerappan, a man who killed countless of men and animals, and at times, just aims to attack our senses.
What to do
Veerappan may be a let down if everyone expected this to be on lines with Band Queen or Paan Singh Tomar. However, there is a still a reason to smile here as we get to see the signs of RGV's lost brilliance. If it was not for the lifeless performances from most of the cast and the silly BG score, this would have been a better film.
P.S.: Can anyone recommend a good ENT specialist?
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