In Indian film industry, there is a rule being followed from ages, that a story has two persons namely “Protagonist” and “Antagonist” whereas the former should be a good person and the latter should be a bad person. There is one person by name “Ram Gopal Varma” who broke this rule in his movies long ago. This made him an expert in presenting docudramas on the screen. After Rakta Charitra and 26/11 Mumbai Attacks, he came up with “Killing Veerappan” this year starring Kannada Superstar Shiva Raj Kumar as a cop and Sandeep Bharadwaj as Veerappan.
This is a film based on the operation by Special Task Force (STF) to kill Veerappan (Sandeep Bharadwaj) who was charged with several crimes like illegal sandalwood smuggling, killing elephants for ivory and lots of civilians and policemen.
These kinds of docudramas should have objective narration where the narrator is also an audience for the story. Varma makes himself special by concentrating on the emotions of the persons rather than projecting someone as good or bad. There were lots of directors who came to the industry with his inspiration but none has beaten him in this aspect.
According to Varma, he knew about Veerappan in two different perspectives of two different people. One was the policeman (Shiva Raj Kumar) who designed strategies to kill him and the other was Muthulakshmi (Yagna Shetty) who was Veerappan’s life partner. As the policeman’s version attracted Varma a lot, he narrated this story in that man’s perspective. But he didn’t ignore Muthulakshmi’s version. In terms of film, Shiva Raj Kumar is the hero of this film but Varma restricted his character just for duty whereas he showed the personal life of Veerappan besides his crimes in his signature style, for which he should be completely credited. One cannot believe Veerappan so easily saying “వాసన చూడడానికి పువ్వుని నలపను నేను!” Also Varma showed both the versions of policeman and Muthulakshmi regarding Veerappan’s deed in the aspect of his daughter.
Varma’s characters can’t be judged as either good or bad. They just work to achieve their goals. But there lies a sincerity in their efforts to achieve it. Remember “Ravi” in Rakta Charitra 1 and “Surya” in Rakta Charitra 2 as examples. Varma didn’t change this ideology for narrating Veerappan’s story too. The policeman’s goal is to kill Veerappan whatever may be the consequences. He is ready to kill anyone including him to kill Veerappan whereas Veerappan does anything to save himself. In general, we stand by the side of protagonist and wait to see him winning over the antagonist and pray that should happen. Coming to this film, we wait for the policeman’s strategy to catch Veerappan and also for the Veerappan’s anti-strategy to escape. Do you know why? C’mon, it’s “A Film By Ram Gopal Varma”.
One more appreciable thing by Varma was narrating most of the things visually rather than verbally for which Shiva Raj Kumar and Sandeep supported him well. In an interview Varma said that everything misunderstood Veerappan as an intelligent person but his research told him that Veerappan’s maturity levels are equivalent to that of a kid’s and he does whatever he wants to, despite thinking about the consequences. Visually, he showed Veerappan’s emotions in the scenes where he sees an A.K.47 rifle for the first time and where he shaves off his favourite big moustache. There were two more typical Varma’s frames like disguised Shiva Raj Kumar seeing Veerappan standing over a mud heap and police informer Shreya (Parul Yadav) sees Veerappan running in front of her, in a slow motion shot.
Non-stop strategies by policeman and Veerappan breaking them made me exclaim “Was it this much tough to catch Veerappan?”. Policeman saying “To kill a demon, we should be a demon” made me feel “Yes, that’s right!”. This made me realize that good and bad do not lie within the persons, instead it lies in the situations that provoked them. A slow narration to portray the emotions was felt fine.
Varma can never be an exception for criticism and he never cares it too. He didn’t come out of his style of using camera in his films. The photography in the introduction scene of Veerappan and pre-intermission scene was so inconsistent that it couldn’t focus an object on the screen properly. It feels like we’re watching some news channel footage. Maybe Varma did it to deliver the realistic experience to his audience as a docudrama always has an objective narration. But a film is a film anyway, I believe. In addition to this, unnecessary and unbearable background score troubled a lot. Had Varma considered these things, this film should’ve gone to the next level.
I also felt he should’ve dramatized the scene where Veerappan shatters the policemen’s expectation that he wouldn’t come to the farm house.
Shiva Raj Kumar in whose perspective the entire narration happens, lived the character rather than acting in it. The scene where he interrogates the person “Gandhi” is an example. Sandeep Bharadwaj is awesome as Veerappan with his commanding body language and looks. Yagna Shetty as Muthulakshmi and Parul Yadav as informer Shreya were good for their roles.
More Eminences :
- Characterizations. Shiva Raj Kumar’s characterization of warming an eye with a coffee cup will be definitely remembered for some time. I also liked the Kumar character who helps Shiva Raj Kumar to implement his strategy.
- Vikram Gaikwad’s Make-Up. This person deservers a good applause for transforming ordinary Sandeep Bharadwaj into extraordinary Veerappan.
- Production Values. It seemed producers Manjunatha, Sudhindra and Shiva Prakash strived a lot to shoot this film in deep forests and all.
- Sandy’s Background Score. Horrible and failed to elevate the scenes properly. Still, I’m being haunted by the background score “Takkam Tikkam Takkam Tikkam…” 😛
- Rammy’s Cinematography. The second half’s cinematography was good and it should’ve been like that in the first half too.
– Yashwanth Aluru
Click here for Telugu version of this Review…