It would be a stretch to describe Ramgopal Varma‘s new film Veerappan as a return to form for the once-maverick director, but this much can be said: the film is more coherent than a lot of his recent work. 

Varma, who is clearly having trouble hiding his awe for Veerappan, describes the notorious smuggler as ”the most dangerous man who ever lived” in a title card at the start of the film. He goes on to underlay every scene with a deafening background score whose chorus chants ”Veer veer Veerappan” repeatedly, as if adding to the legend of the ruthless brigand.

The film is a fairly straightforward story about Veerappan’s rise to power in the dense Tamil Nadu-Karnataka forests that he lorded over for nearly 20 years before he was killed in 2004. We watch his gang brutally killing policemen and civilians, slaying elephants to procure their ivory tusks, and smuggling sandalwood across a well-connected network. In Sandeep Bhardwaj, Varma has landed an actor who looks eerily close to Veerappan, but the script reduces its protagonist to a one-note character that has little to do other than snarl menacingly and hack away at luckless victims.

A woefully inept Sachin Joshi (also the film’s producer) is cast as the leader of the Special Task Force that’s been set up to smoke the bandit out of his hiding place. Giving Joshi competition in the Olympics for bad acting is Lisa Ray, playing the widow of a slain officer, who’s recruited to help the mission by befriending Veerappan’s wife Muthulakshmi (Usha Jadhav) and passing on crucial info to the cops. Lisa, for her part, appears to have strolled onto the wrong set. She makes ominous faces at the camera, and eyes Muthulakshmi so creepily, it’s as if she’s auditioning for one of Varma’s horror films.

The body count piles up during the film’s two hours running time, but the brutal killings are not for the fainthearted. There are some skillfully executed shootout scenes like one in which the authorities close in on Veerappan’s gang while they’re making their way through a waterfall. But these are small pleasures in a largely disappointing film that never goes beyond the obvious.

Varma takes frequent liberties with the truth in this remake of his own Kannada film Killing Veerappan, but what you leave the cinema with at the end are shattered eardrums from the incessant background music. 

I’m going with two out of five.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Rajeev Masand

  • Jack Reacher: Never Go Back

    Jack Reacher: Never Go Back is both the title of the new Tom Cruise film, and could also work as the punchline...

    Shikha SinghOctober 21, 2016
  • Rajeev Masand’s Movie Review of The Girl on the Train

    The Girl on the Train, adapted from the runaway bestseller by Paula Hawkins, is a reasonably gripping suspense thriller that never...

    BMS EditorOctober 14, 2016
  • Rajeev Masand’s Movie Review of Inferno

    Inferno, directed by Ron Howard, the third film based on the Dan Brown novels, once again relies on the credibility of...

    BMS EditorOctober 14, 2016
  • Rajeev Masand’s Movie Review of Queen of Katwe

    Roughly 15 minutes into Mira Nair’s new film Queen of Katwe, and your defenses are down. Good luck trying to resist...

    BMS EditorOctober 8, 2016
  • Rajeev Masand’s Movie Review of Mirzya

    There’s a lot to admire in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Mirzya, but coherent narrative and compelling characters are not among its strengths. ...

    BMS EditorOctober 8, 2016
  • M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story

    MS Dhoni: The Untold Story is like a calendar of events from the life of India’s most successful cricket captain. This...

    BMS EditorSeptember 30, 2016
  • PINK

    You’d really have to be cold, cynical, and possibly living in denial if you aren’t deeply affected by Pink. This powerful...

    BMS EditorSeptember 16, 2016

    The prospect of spending 90 minutes with Blake Lively and a shark might not be everyone’s idea of a perfect movie...

    BMS EditorSeptember 16, 2016

    Anyone who’s having trouble finding a reliable cure for insomnia needs only to head to the nearest cinema and settle down...

    BMS EditorSeptember 9, 2016

All articles/blogs are intended to inform, entertain and amuse. We make no representations or guarantees about the truth, accuracy or quality of any content.

Copyright 2016 © Bigtree Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. All Rights Reserved