Veerappan (2016) - Movie Review

A telling biopic on the notorious Indian brigand Koose Muniswamy Veerappan

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

By Murtaza Ali Khan (@apotofvestiges)

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews

Veerappan (2016) - By Ram Gopal Varma
Veerappan (2016) By Ram Gopal Varma
Veerappan, directed by Ram Gopal Varma, is a biopic based on the life of notorious Indian bandit and sandalwood smuggler Koose Muniswamy Veerappan, commonly known as Veerappan. The movie follows the story of the dacoit's rise as one of the most feared man in India and his ultimate death during an encounter orchestrated by Tamil Nadu Special Task Force as part of Operation CocoonVeerappan stars Sandeep Bharadwaj, Sachiin Joshi, Usha Jadhav, and Lisa Ray in the major roles. The movie is heavily based on Varma's Kannada docudrama Killing Veerappan.
Sandeep Bharadwaj as Veerappan, directed by Ram Gopal Varma
Sandeep Bharadwaj as Veerappan
Our Rating: 6.0
IMDb Ratings: 6.9
Genre: Action Biography
Cast: Sandeep Bharadwaj, Sachiin Joshi, Lisa Ray
Country: India
Language: Hindi
Runtime: 125 min
Color: Color
Ram Gopal Varma's audacity as a filmmaker desperate to serve his art never ceases to amaze one. Having watched Veerappan, this critic can vouch that RGV still has the ability to make quotidian events look like spectacles. Veerappan can best be described as an orgy of gruesome violence. The film begins by reminding us about a quote by Voltaire: "A Society gets the criminal it deserves." Perhaps, it is also true of artistes. Veerappan is a story of rise and fall of a man who went on to become a myth. Who better than RGV to narrate such a tale? And he does it with great panache but little humility.
Lisa Ray in Ram Gopal Varma's Veerappan, directed by Ram Gopal Varma
Lisa Ray in Ram Gopal Varma's Veerappan
Although, a bit theatrical for today's standards, the acting performances in Veerappan are solid all around. But, that's hardly surprising. For, it has always been Varma's forte to get the best out of his actors. For years, Varma has been seen as a messiah of struggling actors. He has launched more newcomers than all his contemporaries in the industry taken together. Even in Veerappan, he mostly relies on relatively unknown faces. While Sandeep Bharadwaj essays the role of Veerappan with a feral intensity befitting the part, Sachiin Joshi is brilliant as the police officer who masterminds Operation Cocoon. Usha Jadhav is memorable in the role of Veerappan's wife Muthulaksmi. Lisa Ray is stunning to watch as the vengeful widow of one's of Veerappan's hapless victims. The lead actors are ably supported by the rest of the cast.
Usha Jadav as Veerappan's wife Muthulaksmi in Veerappan, directed by Ram Gopal Varma
Usha Jadav as Veerappan's wife Muthulaksmi
After watching the carnage caused by arms and ammunition in Veerappan, one is reminded of Andrew Niccol's brilliant anti-war film Lord of War, which released about the same time Veerappan was gunned down by Tamil Nadu STF. To quote one of the principal characters from the movie: "There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That's one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?" It is not simply a question of mathematics. For, it is a case of human lust for power. If carnage is what it takes, so be it. The violence depicted in Veerappan is not limited to humans with scenes depicting animal cruelty abound such as shooting of wild elephants for their tusks.
Sandeep Bharadwaj as Veerappan in Ram Gopal Varma's Veerappan
A Still from Ram Gopal Varma's Veerappan
Overall, Veerappan serves as a strong reminder of what Ram Gopal Varma is capable of doing in front of the silver screen. If it wouldn't have been for its overtly theatrical performances, the film could easily have passed for a documentary. Veerappan gives the impression of an overcooked meal which despite having all the right ingredients fails to meet the epicurean standards. After watching it one gets a feeling that Varma is stuck in a limbo of sorts, trying really hard to redeem himself like some great writer battling with writer's block. Perhaps, the day is not far when he finally succeeds. Until then all we can do is wait and hope. 

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