His movie opens with a quote: “This is the truth, as I know it” ~ Ram Gopal Varma
Ram Gopal Varma is the Indian Cinema’s psychic conduit. It’s obvious that he has always seen the world differently from the rest of us. And even if it takes a little time to settle down into Killing Veerappan’s herky-jerky groove, RGV ends up bewitching us with his fresh take on the old-hat cinematic theme: A badass cop kills a notorious criminal.
I don’t want to extol RGV not because he doesn’t like to be praised, but because I can’t stop admiring him once I start. Well, RGV tells the story of Killing Veerappan in a revolutionary new way, and it’s devastating. There’s no room for sentimentality or conventional Tollywood narative in his film. It has the raw, sickening force of a documentary we watch through spread fingers.
This spooky docudrama thriller based on the real events is all about trying to hold on to the shred of humanity in the midst of the most inhumane chapter in history. Sandeep Bharadwaj, a newcomer with his numb, haunted thousand-yard stare, in a way almost defies description. In a largely silent role, this stunning actor makes you feel every ounce of Veerappan’s desperation with just the look in his eyes. There’s a fabulous scene where he slaps his wife and cuddles her at once with tons of love – which is enough to establish the character how cruel at killing other people and how caring he is towards his people. He’s such a reverence of the film, his performance is unfaltering and extremely searing.
Veerappan does gunfire into the sky with his AK47, twirls his bushy moustache and says, “I want to be popular internationally by kidnapping famous people”. Yes, he’s such a celebrated bandit in India, he feels he’s the king of the forest – Budhikere Halla, where he kills a Special Task Force(STF) personnel with the torrential shower of bullets into his car to look as a sieve full of holes. In this film, car & ambulance get holes, but not the plot & story. There arises a ray of hope – The mischievous but ingenious STF Cop (Shivraj Kumar) to see the end of the mastermind behind the series of killings & smuggling with his master plan of making Veerappan out of the forest soil. How this crude dacoit being assassinated by the crudest cop is the rest of the movie.
Shivraj Kumar, who does a remarkably wicked cop to run the most costliest secret mission in India. He has the bug-eyed intensity that gives his role its nervous and late-night tweaker energy. Most of the cast is composed of first time actors who bring realism to this raw tragic story. RGV doesn’t miss the fun in writing the role of the ex-cop who meets Veerappan last. And yes, the shot composition is another asset of the film, in which RGV is playful & leaves his stamp again. The close-ups on the halves of their faces at interval is an awe-strucking block of work, that slow motion capture of Veerappan’s escape over the police informer (Parul Yadav) is just brilliant, the closing shot of the film is the piece of master-craft and many. Camera travels beside a landslide, revolves along with a Lorry tyre, passes over 2 snakes’ heads and even onto each dusty leaf & every dirty drop of the lake in that dense forest.
The exotic locale, with its mud, aged elephants and plenty of green trees, oh yes, those undulating red sand dunes that resemble giant wasp nests, among which people walk in serpentine shapes with the hissing sounds behind, looks like a distant planet. The background score, ahh wow, sets the mood of the film with its eerie noises and haunting music.
Killing Veerappan is a bit of storytelling stunt, slow pace is used here and there, yet his wildly ambitious premise and death-defying narrative technique do burrow its way into your eyes as well as your head. Those grim scenes with an unsparing matter-of-factness that mirrors the beauty and the beast of forest. I don’t call it masterpiece, but Killing Veerappan takes you into its divergent, brave new world so completely, and it leaves you with all the unknown sensation that you’ve just witnessed something you’ve never known earlier.
I’m pretty sure this becomes a rare movie-going experience if you see it again and again, because I watched it thrice already and loved it third time a lot.
My review closes with a shout: “This is the truth, as I write it, and as I feel it” ~ Satya
My Rating: 3.5/5
Filed Under: Satya Reviews