Veerappan always fascinated me'

Straight talk

Veerappan always fascinated me'

Ram Gopal Varma’s (RGV) film ‘Killing Veerappan’ has been received extremely well, both critically as well as commercially. The movie’s elaborate documentation of the entire operation of nabbing the dreaded forest brigand Veerappan and the way every character has been etched with an eye on the minutest of details has once again proved why RGV is considered a master storyteller.

 In an interview with ‘Metrolife’, RGV says that he spent three years researching and understanding every aspect of the story and making sense of why every character behaved the way she or he did. Two of the most important characters that have a substantial role to play are Shivarajkumar who essays the role of an investigating officer who turned the brigand's nemesis and Parul Yadav who plays the young girl, a close associate of Veerappan.   

What is it that struck you when you first heard about forest brigand Veerappan?

Veerappan always fascinated me. More than 12 years ago, I was producing a film called ‘Let’s Catch Veerappan’ on three amateurs trying to catch the brigand for the reward money. But just as we were about to start the shooting, Veerappan was killed. I shelved the movie thinking that there’s no point in making a film where they are still trying to catch Veerappan when he is already dead. I toyed with the idea of a biopic but then so much information on him was already in public domain and I gave up that as well.

What then inspired you to return to Veerappan?

A year ago, I happened to hear about Senthamarai Kannan —  the police officer who headed the intelligence operation that resulted in the killing of Veerappan. Unlike his predecessors who always tried to hunt down Veerappan inside the forest, Senthamarai Kannan tried a radically different thing: lure the brigand out of his lair. When I heard the operation details, I thought these should be made public because the Veerappan chapter is the most significant one in the history of crime in India.

The difference between my version and other versions is that nobody knows the details of this particular operation.
 
Strong characterisation is one of the strengths of ‘Killing Veerappan’. How did you manage it?

A deep psychological study of each of the characters and knowledge garnered about them from various perspectives and multiple sources helped.

Tell us a little about Shivarajkumar’s role in the film?

Shivarajkumar is playing the role of the police officer who planned the operation that resulted in Veerappan’s death. I was very keen on having him in my cast because I needed a man of that age, looks and performance ability. There was also the fact that he’s the son of the late Dr Rajkumar, who himself had been kidnapped by Veerappan. The casting coup was bolstered by the fact that a real life villain was being killed by the reel life hero.  

How did Shivarajkumar respond when you first pitched the idea to him?

He initially wondered why I wanted to do a film on a story which everybody already knew. But when I narrated to him exactly what I wanted to do, he was blown away by the freshness. Considering his image and his fans, I was little unsure about how he will react to such a radically different characterisation but he took to it like a fish takes to water.  

What is the most important message that your film conveys?

I believe the good and bad are perspectives of different people are dependent on specific situations. For instance, Veerappan could be good for Muthulakshmi (Veerappan’s wife) but not for the police. Similarly, the role of the cop could be criminal in his thinking or an extreme guy who had the courage to rise to the occasion. He was courageous enough to risk his life for the larger good. I hope all these points provide some food for
thought.
As told to Nina C George

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