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Veerappan movie review: Film Terrorist Ram Gopal Varma destroys the film

Rahul Desai | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:49 IST
  • Ram Gopal Varma\'s first Hindi film after \'The Attacks of 26/11\'
  • Chronicles the final years of the infamous dacoit\'s jungle rule
  • One of the worst, most cringe-worthy films of the year

Rating: 0.5 stars

"Your so-called foolproof plan is itself a proof that we are the fools." A bulky senior officer, who insists on being the mandatory highbrowed English-speaking character despite his accent, declares this line very gravely to the junior-officer/Veerappan-adversary/batman (Sachiin Joshi). Batman has just come up with a plan that went down as Operation Cocoon in the history books.

But in film terrorist Ram Gopal Varma's movie about India's most notorious terrorist, this plan sounds like a chain-smoking Ranjeet scheming with Pran about how to capture Shakti Kapoor in a hotel room. Nobody - and I mean nobody - makes films with such consistently harebrained, despicable, incompetent, jarring and awfully acted caricatures the way Mr. Varma now does.

I derive absolutely no pleasure in repeatedly panning his current work, and I will definitely stop harking back to the years in which he was a film-school on his own. The downfall has been swift, painful and has now reached a level where it is virtually impossible to constructively criticize the films.

Veerappan, the Hindi film that furthers Varma's decade-long obsession with the done-to-death (pun intended) dacoit, comes just a few months after his Kannada-language docudrama 'Killing Veerappan'. This one begins with a Voltaire quote: A society gets the criminal it deserves. Well, it also gets the storytellers it deserves.

We're so conditioned to watching villains portrayed as victims of a broken system lately, that when the crazed Veerappan (an unrecognizable Sandeep Bharadwaj; he'd do well to leave the prosthetics on after this performance) spends the first thirty minutes smashing skulls, hacking limbs, shooting elephants, cutting their trunks and shooting more elephants, you know that the writers will attempt to mythicize his legend by adding human traits. And so it comes in the form of his rather-Bollywoodish wife Muthulakshmi (Usha Jadhav), who is a dialogue short of nagging him to take her to a fancy mall instead of this "dirty jungle life."

However, Batman and his team always come close enough to shower their garlicky breaths onto Veerappan moustache, before letting him escape - because hey, he wasn't killed till 2004. Every close call is laughably constructed and scripted, with more importance given to Varma's famed lens fluidity (I call it "Mosquito-cam"). Varma adds his own history-altering tidbits, like Veerappan being a frothing fan-boy of LTTE chief Prabhakaran - enough to make you wonder why he didn't play Shah Rukh Khan's fan in 'Fan'. Meanwhile, Batman continues to smoke evil cigarettes and become a nasal-voiced demon to bring down a demon.

But by far the most parody-worthy aspect of this, if it already isn't a parody onto itself, is Lisa Ray's turn as a spy widower. Oh, Lisa, what have you done? When not framed as the background to hazy inanimate objects, she expresses herself like a possessed doll in a bad horror movie. One can sense that the cameraman is being cajoled with extra midnight pegs of whisky to tighten the close-ups until it reaches the beads of sweat on her full lips. How could Varma have Okayed any of her takes? Unless, wait, this is perhaps what he wanted after all. As Muthulakshmi's not-so-genius landlady and betrayer, she is a pitiful, trembling white cliché in her director's restless hands.

Another thing that should get this film banned on grounds of artistic indecency is the use of background music. Whenever the script runs out of dialogues, the deafening score takes over, while characters continue to move their lips like puppets being operated by a drunken ventriloquist. Otherwise, it's a relentless barrage of firecracker-ish gunshots and bodily hamming (where nobody must look ordinary: bad eye, nervous tick et al).

In short, if Veerappan were a film review, it would begin in LOUD CAPS, change font sizes and fonts and languages midway, intentionally mess with syntax and grammar, become blank scribbles, trail off and turn into a paper plane by the end.

Perhaps the only thing less agreeable than another Veerappan biopic will be a Ram Gopal Varma biopic - if he directs it himself.

First published: 27 May 2016, 12:28 IST
Rahul Desai @ReelReptile

Rahul Desai is a full-time Federer enthusiast and avid traveller who absolutely must find a way to reach Europe once a year. In his spare time, he reviews films, aspires to own a swimming pool and whines about the lack of palatable food in Mumbai.