'Vana Yuddham' - partly engaging biopic

Film: "Vana Yuddham"; Actors: Kishore, Arjun Sarja, Lakshmi Rai, Vijayalakshmi, Suresh Oberoi, Ravi Kale, Jayachitra and AMR Ramesh; Director: AMR Ramesh; Rating: **

It's not easy to recreate a fitting saga drawn out of real life incidents of a controversial story, but filmmaker AMR Ramesh does his best to make this biopic of India's most wanted dacoit Veerappan appear plausible. What could have been a pulsating thriller of sorts, is jeopardised due to a screenplay that fails to evoke interest and keep the audiences hooked. That said, one can't ignore this film as it successfully brings forth crucial events from the life of the late poacher-turned-dacoit.

In little over two hours, "Vana Yuddham" presents us events from the lives of Veerappan; starting from the initial days as a poacher to his last days as the most feared dacoit in the country. In his regime in the dense forests bordering three southern states - Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala - for nearly three decades, he was an undisputed ruler and all those who tried to stop him, were put to sleep. How was he eventually tracked and gunned down? This forms the rest of the story.

As former Kannada superstar Rajkumar, who was once captured by Veerappan and kept in his custody for over 100 days, said after the dacoit's death - he may have been bad, yet it's a life that was lost. You walk out of the theatre with a similar recurring thought - after all it was a life, no matter how good or bad it was, there's absolutely no need to celebrate. On the contrary, you also refrain from sympathising after you learn about the hundreds of lives that were snuffed by Veerappan himself.

If you were to compare the pre-interval and post-interval parts then undoubtedly the latter is more engaging than the former. The entire first half brings to the fore the rise of the dacoit and the number of people and elephants he killed. The second half throws light on 'Operation Cocoon', headed by IPS officer Vijay Kumar (Arjun), who, with the help of Karnataka Special Task Force (STF), watched the movements of their target for months and finally gunned him down.

The second half scores over its predecessor because it carries some amount of suspense throughout. It makes you wait for the moment when you breathe a sigh of relief, whereas the first half was more or less like a docu-drama focusing only on certain important dates from Veerappan's life. It didn't excite the audience as much as a biopic should have done.

Kishore as Veerappan was brilliant and the ease with which he portrays the mannerisms of the real character is a treat to watch. You can't deny the amount of hard work that he has put in to make his role appear flawless. To see Arjun don the role of a policeman is not new for Tamil audiences, yet he leaves an impact.

Originally made as Kannada-Tamil bilingual, "Vana Yuddham" suffers due to bad dubbing, which turns irksome after a point of time. Some muted and cut scenes pave way to badly edited shots.

Sandeep Chowta's music is partly fitting, while the background score is mostly loud.

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