KILLING VEERAPPAN (2016)

Killing Veerappan is the latest offering from Ram Gopal Verma. He was my favorite Bollywood director at a point of time but over the years with films like Department, Agyaat, Aag, etc he has fallen from grace. The good thing is that he has been making some good films of late and beginning to strike back. So when Killing Veerappan was announced and the trailers aired I was excited about it. The guy playing Veerappan looked real and even though I could see some of Verma’s trademark jarring camera movements, I was still hopeful about this film. He has picked a subject about which very little is known and the man and menace that Veerappan was, ensured that one and all would be interested to know how he perished after it was considered for a very long time that he couldn’t be killed.

The film starts off showing us Veerappan to be in supreme control of his surroundings and 1 (16)always having an upper hand over the police. He is shown ambushing a major operation followed by a series of flashbacks wherein different police officers relate their stories of his brutalities. The cop, who is head of the Special Task Force entrusted to kill the man, realizes that he can’t be killed in the forest and that he has to be lured out of the forest. In doing so they have to devise a plan which would offer Veerappan something that he wants more than his safety and the refuge of the forest and would hence come out. The team undertakes three different plans to do this. Firstly they try to track him through his wife who takes up a rented apartment moving out of the jungle. Next they try to lure him using his craving for modern weaponry and thirdly they try to lure him out in the guise of a meeting with the dreaded Tamil Militant in Sri Lanka known as Prabhakaran.

1 (11)The film is episodic in nature even though it has some flash backs and doesn’t try to show that it is episodic. A careful study of its narrative can help you classify it easily into these three chapters atleast leaving aside the prologue which shows us Veerappan’s might, the part involving the planning and a rather brief and somewhat cliché climax. The film is relentless and even though there are a number of songs playing in the background and some loud and typical RGV sort of background score, it remains believebale. The action is organic and never goes over the top. The fights through the jungles and the ambush sequences will surely catch your attention. The film has a runtime of about 2 hours 30 minutes but it never feels dragged or boring. There is just so much happening that you will be glued to the screen.

The film boasts of some terrific acting. Sandeep Bharadwaj gets in the skin of Veerappan and his act sometimes makes you 1 (14)forget that he is merely an actor essaying a role. From start to finish there wasn’t a scene where he felt out of place. He looks menacing where he has to and in some of the sequences even shows off childlike innocence. The action sequences suite him well. Shivarajkumar plays the leader of the Special Task Force. Let’s not forget he is the son of the famous actor Rajkumar who was kidnapped by Veerappan. His hatred for him is depicted in his expressions and it must be underlined that his act moves a few notches up because of this real life connection. He feels the part and some of his spontaneous expressions really add weight to his character. Parul Yadav plays the character of Shriya. She does a good job with the role but it has to be noted that her character is terribly done in by some lackluster writing. More on that later.

1 (20)The film does have its share of problems and they are two pronged. Story/Character- wise and technical. The director says that he has made a film which is based on real facts while at many junctures the film goes topsy turvy in terms of logic. The biggest fiasco is the character of Shriya who agrees to tail Veerappan’s wife without having any need or inspiration to do so. She risks her life more than once and the Task Force keeps her with them long after she had exhausted her utility. They even take her to missions where gunfire is expected and exchanged. They let her hang around in the torture cell. She is a civilian for God’s sake. These little things mar the believability of the screenplay and make you question every scene thereafter. She is not the only character whose motivation is left unexplained. Towards the end another important character is introduced who suffers from the same problem.

Technically speaking the film is shot badly. I really cannot understand why RGV has to use such jarring camera work and 1 (26)crazy angles. They never add anything to the feel and visual style of the film and only destroy the likeability of the sequences. Almost every action sequence is affected by this style. I am not saying that there are too many cuts or anything. It’s just that the camera keeps moving so fast that it is almost becomes impossible to understand what is happening and leaves you with an induced headache. RGV thinks that shooting the sequences in this manner will convey the breakneck feel of the situation and the mental state of the characters.

1 (10)That’s not the case here. He could have used fluid camera movements and used higher grounds takes, medium shots and close ups in tandem to give the audience a feel of the action and the situation. He does use the higher ground and extreme long shots in one of the action sequences but that too comes a tad bit too late in the day. Some of the best examples of Jungle warfare shooting can be seen in films like Platoon or The Thin Red Line where the visuals successfully build up tension and the action is haphazard and yet fluid and easy to follow. How can you appreciate a sequence if you cannot follow it? RGV should have taken a point or two from these films and even his own Jungle which was delightful.

The film tries to be a documentary style take and yet leaves a lot of gaping holes in the script which can mar the believability of the story and thus take away the punch of the story. RGV should have known better. After all he made films like Satya and Company which I felt was some of the most realistic and yet infinitely entertaining films ever made in Bollywood. He made them without the jarring and almost dancing camera movements. Having said that, Killing Veerappan is still a very worthy watch thanks to the spirited performences, simmering drama and the meaty story. I like RGV films and I haven’t lost my faith in the man. He is releasing a remake of Killing Veerappan in Hindi with some changes in the cast and many re-shot sequences. I am looking forward to see if he actually rectifies some of my complaints from this film. I will definitely watch that one and I suggest you watch this one too. You will like it. I give Killing Veerappan 3 out of 5 stars.

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