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Updated: February 17, 2013 20:46 IST

A near-authentic biopic of the brigand

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A still from Attahasa
A still from Attahasa

Attahasa (Kannada)

Director: A.M.R. Ramesh

Cast: Kishor, Arjun Sarja, Suresh Oberoi, Suchendra Prasad, A.M.R. Ramesh, Ravi Kale

Forest brigand Veerappan, who terrorised Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for nearly two decades till he was shot dead by the Tamil Nadu police in 2008, is now in the news with the President rejecting the mercy petition filed by four of his associates who have been sentenced to death for the Palar blast in 1993.

The trilingual biopic on Veerappan, Attahasa, directed by Ramesh, shows graphic details of the Palar blast. The film also throws light on other dramatic incidents such as the barbaric beheading of forest officer Srinivas and kidnapping of Kannada actor, the late Rajkumar.

Attahasa is a film that was eagerly awaited. More so because of Ramesh’s track record as a realistic filmmaker.

Making a biopic on a person with a criminal record is a challenge as the director tends to face a dilemma on whether to focus on his criminal acts or show the circumstances that made him a criminal.

The film begins with a glimpse of the encounter in which Veerappan was killed and ends with graphic details of the plot that was hatched to kill him. In between, the film delineates the rise and fall of the brigand. While the first half focuses on how he eliminates police and forest officers, the second half is about the abduction of Rajkumar and how Tamil Nadu Special Task Force chief K. Vijay Kumar succeeds in killing Veerappan. As for details, Attahasa can be described as a near-authentic account of Veerappan’s life. Painstaking research on the brigand is visible throughout the film. Ramesh has shot the film on location and drafted the services of people who were witness to various incidents during the Veerappan saga.

Despite the disclaimer, the director shows original video clips of incidents involving “real people”. However, Ramesh has blurred portions representing Muthulakshmi, Veerappan’s wife. The strength of the film lies in the cast. While Suresh Oberoi is Rajkumar, Kishor is Veerappan and Suchendra Prasad is forest officer Srinivas. Ramesh has avoided controversial topics such as the alleged transfer of funds through emissary Nakkeeran Gopal for the release of Rajkumar and also the role of Dr. Bhanu in the release.

Vijay Milton has done good camera work and his imprint is visible in the aerial shots. Sandeep Chouta’s music strengthens the film. However, a stereotyped reporter (Lakshmi Rai) blurs the role of the media. Also, there is very little about the contribution of Karnataka police officers in the drive to capture Veerappan.

Kishor’s mannerisms steal the show. Arjun Sarja draws attention with his restrained performance as Vijay Kumar, while Suchendra Prasad is loud as usual Ravi Kale as Senthamarai Kannan ably assists Arjun Sarja.

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