by P Sinha

 Posted on 28-May-2016 12:07 AM

Back in the 90s, RGV was the man with the golden touch. He gave us films after films that were trendsetters. Shiva, Rangeela and with Satya, he began to be compared with Coppola. Then he lost his way. There were far more forgettable films coming out of his “factory” than those worth remembering. By Varma’s own admission, he went away from Mumbai and introspected. Veerappan is his film that came after his introspective break. Actually, Veerappan is heavily taken from RGV’s own film Killing Veerappan. That film redeemed RGV and was a critical and commercial success. What got lost in translation (to Hindi)?

Veerappan’s story is well known. The film shows him the scumbag he was, motivated by greed and grandeur in his own eyes. Veerappan killed over 180 people including senior police officers and forest officials. He also killed over 200 elephants for their tusks. When the elephant population went down alarmingly due to rampant killing, he started hacking away trees to sell sandalwood. He evidently took pride in his notoriety (and his handlebar moustache) and wanted to be known internationally too. He distributed money among the tribal folks because he knew he needed their help to survive in the forest. He even acquired a Robin Hood image.

Veerappan had developed a net of human intelligence that gave him tactical edge in most of his encounters with the security forces. The joint Special Task Force of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka launched Operation Cocoon to nab him. The task force realized that to catch Veerappan, they needed to infiltrate his group, and get him out of the security of the dense jungles he operated in. The film is about the process of luring the brigand out of the forest and killing him.

Let’s take a look at what went wrong in the Hindi adaptation. First is casting. Sachiin Joshi’s character is the person who is supposed to pull the film through. Let alone shoulder the weight of the film, the guy cannot even deliver his dialogues straight. A police officer delivering dialogues in a nursery style sing song manner is funny to say the least. His face off against Sandeep Bharadwaj, who is brilliant as Veerappan, is tough to believe. Lisa Ray is another actor who does no favours to her role. She has a deadpan expression and a dubbed voice making her an unintentionally funny character.  

Second is the background music, always jarring on the ears. Third is the poor production quality, which is surprising because Killing Veerappan had superior production values. Add to that Varma’s penchant for camera movements making the viewer go dizzy.

Varma does show the brilliance of his earlier films, but they are few and far in between. He was lucky to have found Sandeep Bharadwaj for Veerappan, if he had only focused on casting right for other major parts and stuck to his earlier film on Veerappan, the outcome would have been very different.


Film Poster: By Chimpidshi - official poster release sessionPreviously published: -, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Rating : 2/5

Starring: Sandeep Bharadwaj, Usha Jadhav, Sachiin J Joshi, Lisa Ray

Director: Ram Gopal Varma

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