Veerappan has the bark, but lacks bite
The story speaks of the rise and fall of the world's most notorious sandalwood and ivory smuggler, Veerappan. Koose Muniswamy Veerappan (Sandeep) born to the jungles in South India, took to killing while still in his teens. Till he was ambushed on October 18, 2004, he had killed approximately 97 policemen and 900 elephants.
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. But if you are keen and curious, to see the life and times of one of the most dreaded criminals, who twirled his moustache and brandished his gun with equal finesse, Varma provides you that vicarious pleasure.
The first half, has its moments. Watching Veerappan stride across the screen, killing men and animals mindlessly does get you to hold your breath. Of course, the blood, gut-spilling and his crude methods of smashing his victim's faces with a boulder make your skin crawl. Warning: if you are faint-hearted, you may only open your eyes to soak in the lush-greens and the milky waterfalls of Karnataka that have been captured breathtakingly. Or, you may find yourself smiling, when you catch the romantic banter between the dacoit and his dharam-patni, Muthulakshmi (Usha Jadhav).
The second half needed bite. It should have been more gripping. The plan made by the Special Task Force (STF) to wipe off Veerappan needed drama. Here, it is left to one officer (Sachiin) to tell you about 'Operation Cocoon' that was made to lure the dacoit out of his lair. Also the screen-proceedings fell into place too conveneintly. Wish the director, who gave us unforgettable mafia material like Satya, Company and Sarkar, had packed in some extra punches.
In all fairness, Sandeep brings Veerappan alive and the National Award winner Usha as Muthulakshmi is convincing. Though not in top form, RGV does redeem himself to some degree. And his film does allow you to get up, close and personal with the notorious criminal who made a monkey of the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka Governments, because he knew the loopholes in the system.