To find an actor who resembles the real-life character he has to play is a stroke of pure luck. But to fritter that away by making that reel-life character so uni-dimensional, so uninteresting is pure misfortune, both for the once terrific director, as well as for us viewers who live in hope for his return.
Sandeep Bhardwaj looks uncannily like Veerappan, the ruthless brigand who created such terror in the jungles of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu that even the specially set up and armed-to-the-teeth Task Forces couldn’t nab him. The film has scenic locations : dense jungles, lush-green forests, ravines and waterfalls, through which Veerappan and his gang rampage, killing humans and tuskers and felling sandalwood trees. And it is quickly evident that Varma is keen on telling us an actual story which had the potential to provide insight into the life and times of a man who believed that breaking the law was infinitely better than giving up.
But ‘Veerappan’ , based on his own Kannada ‘Killing Veerappan’, never becomes that film. Bhardwaj is to be seen wreathed in a perpetual snarl, hacking away at human limbs and shooting luckless elephants. The other three who split the rest of the screen time are Joshi, playing the mastermind behind Veerappan’s capture , a slain-by-Veerappan officer’s widow ( Ray, unintentionally hilarious) and the outlaw’s wife ( Jadhav, far too sympathetic), and they are made to scurry around to little impact.
The dizzying camera angles which have marred so many of RGV’s recent outings may have mercifully gone missing but the ear-shattering background music is right there. It is enough to make you want to flee into the forests, even at the risk of running into Veerappan.
Director : Ram Gopal Varma
Cast: Sandeep Bhardwaj, Sachiin Joshi, Usha Jadhav, Lisa Ray
One and a half stars
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