Veerappan fictionalises the life of the notorious brigand, brought to us in typical Ram Gopal Varma style – gritty and engaging. Looks like Ramu has found his long-lost mojo with this one. A cop is killed by Veerappan (Sandeep Bharadwaj) and the dead man’s wife Priya (Lisa Ray) joins the force as a spy to avenge her husband’s death. And she uses the bandit’s wife to get to him. That, more or less, is it.
The narrative traces Veerappan’s reign of terror, his poaching and smuggling, the bandit reveling in his mockery of the forces, hiding out in labyrinthine forests, passing time killing an elephant or two. Ray somewhat labours to get the expressions right but does a racy job of ferreting out Veerappan from the jungles with the help of fellow IPS spy Kannan (Sachiin J Joshi).
The work is made easier after Veerappan’s wife Muthulakshmi (Usha Jadhav) leaves his side in the forest after one of the many encounter efforts to kill the dacoit. Ray seizes the opportunity and poses as a landlord to Muthu, always on the lookout for that one piece of information that would lead the force to her husband. And what have you? Muthu is unguarded at a vulnerable moment.
RGV has told it taut, specially in the second half that is all about Operation Killing Veerappan. Sandeep’s tranformation as Veerappan is commendable from his looks to his dialect. Here’s an actor waiting to be explored. Usha too plays it easy. Sachiin was a delight and perhaps this is his best performance so far. Since everything about Veerappan made headlines in his lifetime, the story has no surprises. Also the docu-feature style narrative doesn’t have too many edge-of-the seat thrills.