Ram Gopal Varma, whose last Hindi/ Bollywood film at the box-office was the forgettable SATYA 2, makes a grand comeback with VEERAPPAN. One has to give it to him for having the confidence and the conviction in an off-beat subject like the life story of Veerappan. Unlike his earlier films, Ram Gopal Varma has adopted a rather guerrilla method in the narration of VEERAPPAN. Ram Gopal Varma should also be applauded for convincingly extracting human emotions from his characters, without going over the top. The film script (R.D. Tailang), is convincing and believable. Both, the script and Ram Gopal Varma's direction complement each other. While the first half of the film builds up the story and the pace, the film's second half dips slightly. Even though the film cannot be termed as a 'visual masterpiece', still, one does get to witness a handful of scenes that have been shot superlatively. The film has the most fitting climax, by all means. Full brownie points to Ram Gopal Varma for having flawlessly shot the scenes like Veerappan's hideouts and the scenes towards the interval point. The climax of the film is as much fantastic and enjoyable, as much as the ultimate elimination scene of Veerappan.
As far as the performances are concerned, despite the film having an author backed role, the laurels oscillates between Sandeep Bharadwaj and Sachiin J Joshi. Sandeep Bharadwaj looks extremely convincing and resounding like the real Veerappan. Right from the mannerisms, expressions, body language and finer nuances, he scores from the word go. A special mention here goes to the veteran make-up artist Vikram Gaikwad for being responsible for the magical transformation of Sandeep Bharadwaj into Veerappan. On the other hand, Sachiin J Joshi excels in his role of a STF officer who lives with the sole aim of nabbing Veerappan. He exhibits aggression, angst, anger and helplessness in the most convincing manner, with a body language to match. While Usha Jadhav does a decent job with her character, Lisa Ray, who initially seems to be struggling with emotions, gradually becomes at ease with it. The rest of the film's characters help in taking the film forward.
On the whole, VEERAPPAN has violence that may seem a bit over the top for a certain segment of audience. With its unconventional and extremely well-narrated story line and Ram Gopal Varma's trademark filmmaking skills VEERAPPAN will most likely be patronized by a niche segment of the audience.
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.
‘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.
Veerappan fictionalises the life of the notorious brigand, brought to us in typical Ram Gopal Varma style – gritty and engaging. Looks like Ramu has found his long-lost mojo with this one.
A cop is killed by Veerappan (Sandeep Bharadwaj) and the dead man’s wife Priya (Lisa Ray) joins the force as a spy to avenge her husband’s death. And she uses the bandit’s wife to get to him. That, more or less, is it. The narrative traces Veerappan’s reign of terror, his poaching and smuggling, the bandit reveling in his mockery of the forces, hiding out in labyrinthine forests, passing time killing an elephant or two.
RGV has told it taut, specially in the second half that is all about Operation Killing Veerappan. Sandeep’s tranformation as Veerappan is commendable -- from his looks to his dialect. Here’s an actor waiting to be explored. Usha too plays it easy. Sachiin was a delight and perhaps this is his best performance so far.