Taming the Jungle King

Taming the Jungle King

A 151- minute docudrama, ‘Killing Veerappan,’ announces its intent and approach right from the title credits. Director Ram Gopal Varma too does his...

A 151- minute docudrama, ‘Killing Veerappan,’ announces its intent and approach right from the title credits. Director Ram Gopal Varma too does his bit as he adds to the audience expectations by declaring that the film is “his version of truth.”

Having had even the international media showing unflagging interest on his horrifying exploits, Veerappan, the forest brigand is indeed a fascinating character to chronicle onscreen.

Zeroing in on Shivaraj Kumar, scion of the legendary Kannada film icon Dr Rajkumar, was another master stroke– given that it was the latter who was in the custody of Veerappan, which would obviously mean heightened curiosity value among the viewers in the know.

Making a clear departure from the earlier films, which showed the political dimension behind the bandit’s encounter, RGV draws his own portrait of the dastardly killer.

Seen more from the police and law and order angle, with the top cop role played pretty well by Shivanna, as he is known back home, RGV creates no need for any sub-plots or melodrama. Here is where the film scores, with the vicious Veerappan role essayed excellently by Sandeep Bharadwaj despite some theatrical expressions and gestures here and there.

A professional stage artiste, Bharadwaj looks the part – with his large brooding eyes and thick set handle bar moustache zipping up the macho quotient of his role. The gripping beginning threatens to (suddenly) lose tempo in the first half an hour of the film, even as the hero is introduced to the violent exploits of Veerappan in a flashback.

It regains its original speed soon after as the action shifts to the lush forest area, interspersed once a while with breath-taking shots of muddy ravines, as the cops and culprits play the chasing games. Twisting the oft-repeated story of how the jungle king meets his end, Varma brings in a little-known dimension of the setting up of Veerappan’s wife, Muthulakshmi and almost making her lead the path to Veerappan’s capture.

The two women seen in the heavily male–dominated screen space – Yagna Shetty as Muthulakshmi and Parul Yadav as Shriya, the do-gooder for the cause, manage their time well. In fact, Yagna considerably resembles Veerappan’s wife in real life too! The continuous upstaging of the cop’s well-laid plans owing to insider leaks and other reasons and how Veerappan refuses to get browbeaten, despite steady pressure on him and his gang is well-shown and engrossingly shot.

Until the climax, RGV does not refer to any contemporary happening or event till he brings the LTTE into the picture to wrap up the climax, when the bad man is killed. ‘Killing Veerappan’ is a good watch for action lovers, especially those who love chase sequences between the hero and the villain.

Shivaraj looks fit and his ease with the character comes out well, despite the dubbing mismatch now and then. With biopics creating more controversies than they can handle, this film, for one, seems poised for a winning finish.
Film Name : Killing Veerappan
Cast : Shivraj Kumar, Sandeep Bharadwaj, Parul Yadav and Yagna Shetty
Direction : Ram Gopal Varma
Genre : Thriller
Likes : Sandeep Bharadwaj and Shivaraj Kumar
Dislikes : Too long and repetitive action scenes, once a while
Rating : ***

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