The thing about biopic movies about a controversial figure is that they inevitably run into controversies.Often threatening their release, which is what happened with the Veerappan biopic Vana Yuddham.Rightfully offended by the movie, Veerappan’s spouse Muthulakshmi took director Ramesh and theproducers of the movie to court. Although an eventual settlement after the long drawn court battle wasarrived at, Muthulakshmi succeeded in obtaining a restraint from the court that obligates the makers toexplicitly state that the movie is a work of fiction on the posters.
Ramesh’s objective is to present the events that led to the eventual killing of forest brigand Veerappanobjectively and it is said that he spent about a decade collecting information and researching for themovie. Veerappan’s eventful life, the kidnappings, the killings of police officers and his eventual deaththat was conspiratorially plotted by the Tamil Nadu police form the crux of the movie and hence themovie is riveting without any need to introduce drama.
The movie plays out on its own like a thriller without having too much of efforts on the director’spart since the writing is natural and the actors are all seasoned delivering powerhouse performances.The movie is on auto pilot for most part and it seems like Ramesh stood aside and watched theperformances as they take over the pace. The movie focuses on how the man Veerappan came to be –he had a fall out with his a smuggler he used to work for and decided to go on his own in the business,his gruesome battles with the policemen, his audacious kidnaps and even butchering of numerouspolicemen and a state minister.
There is no judgment from the director’s part and the events are portrayed as most of us know it, butthere are still moments of surprises in the movie. Owing to the controversial nature of the depictionof the villagers and the policemen, Ramesh has had to oblige with the numerous cuts suggested by thecensor board and hence the movie has quite too many words bleeped out from the narrative.
Kishore’s Veerappan is the menacing the actor will probably ever get. His mop of unkempt and bushyhair and the notoriously thick moustache that forms a shrub on both his cheeks are reminiscent ofVeerappan. Kishore and his aide of actors who form the forest brigade including Ravi Kale and SampathRaj are brilliant in the portrayal of their roles. Perhaps the most energetic presence in the movie is thatof Arjun’s, who plays the role of DGP K Vijayakumar who was at the helm of the operation that nailedVeerappan.
Of the women in the movie, Jayachitra takes the cake as the Chief Minister Jayalalitha. Lakshmi Rai hasthe miniscule role of a journalist while Vijayalakshmi as Muthulakshmi Veerappan has precious little todo and her screen presence is appallingly reduced to almost nothing. Anthony’s must have had it toughwith the movie’s editing since Ramesh intended to keep the movie short. Vijay Milton’s cinematographyand Sandeep Chowta’s music play along with the movie.
Ramesh, the acclaimed director of Kuppi, the movie about Rajiv Gandhi’s assassins has succeeded inportraying the incidents leading to the capture of the feared forest brigand. Now there must have beena few compromises he had to do since the movie ends at a very patronizing note to the Tamil Nadugovernment. That apart, Vana Yuddham brings to life the Veerappan saga with the help of the brilliantactors and performances.
Verdict: Gritty portrayal of Veerappan!