So has RGV got his mojo back? The jury is still out on that.
However, I found Veerappan much more watchable than any of his recent outings. Not for the gun shots, the axes and knives or the oozing blood; the protracted voiceover at the start to give us the back story; the interminable confrontations and chases through panoramic mountains, trenches and jungles; the pore-revealing extreme close-ups of actors (note the one in which a strand of hair accidentally gets into Lisa Ray’s mouth and poor Lisa has to chew on it while chewing on her lines).
Not even for the loud background score with a song that plays on Gulzar’s “jungle jungle baat chali hai pata chala hai”; the brutality heaped on humans and animals alike; the celebration of violence and certainly not for the romanticisation of a bandit king.
Veerappan is watchable because it belongs to Muthulakshmi. Usha Jadhav is excellent as Veerappan’s wife be it cooking in the jungles for her husband (Sandeep Bharadwaj) or braving police torture for him or loving him despite his indiscretions. She retains the innocence and vulnerability even as she reposes trust in a woman who is actually out to use her to avenge her husband’s death at the hands of Veerappan.
Usha also stands out because she acts with her mind and soul while the actress on the opposite end, Lisa, only lets her plumped up lips do all the talking, that too with an odd, speeded up cartoon-like touch. Quite a bit of the film is the tale of these two women. Wish it had remained so.