â€œVanayudhamâ€, a first of the kind docu-drama in Tamil, is about the rise and fall of south Indian dacoit Veerapan, who ruled the forests along the borders of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala for over three decades. While director Ramesh must be appreciated for taking efforts to recreate events from a true story on screen, but unfortunately the film doesn't have a deft screenplay to keep the audience engaged.
We're introduced to a young, rebellious Veerapan in the forest of Karnataka, where he is seen killing elephants with his entourage. From then on, we're shown how Veerapan, from an ordinary poacher went on to become one of India's most wanted dacoits with a price of Rs. 5 crore on his head. He didn't spare a single soul, including innocent civilians, who tried to stop him. He evaded arrests for several years before he was killed in an operation in 2004 by Karnataka and Tamil Nadu special task force.
The first half presents bits and pieces from the life of the late dacoit. It really doesn't pique the interest of the audience but for the few minutes before the interval. It appeared as though the director didn't know much about Veerapan's life in the initial days or he deliberately decided to show only what was important and will be unanimously accepted.
The second half on the other hand was far better than the first. It had some level of tension throughout and kept the audience guessing what's about to unfold. The planning involved in the execution of Veerapan was very well recreated but the film on the whole oscillates between average and unsatisfactory.
Kishore as Veerapan was aggressive, ruthless and absolutely apt in his role. He leaves an impact in his role and makes one wonder what would've happened had someone else played the role instead of him. He ought to be appreciated for subtly depicting several mannerisms akin to the original character. Arjun slips into character with utmost ease. Having played the role of a policeman in most of his films in the past, this role wasn't any different. Suresh Oberoi was a suitable pick for the roles of Kannada actor Rajkumar. Even though he had limited screen presence, he shines in it.
â€œVanayudhamâ€ is claimed to be a bilingual, but except for Kishore and Arjun, all other characters have dubbing voices. The dubbing was definitely a turn off and leaves most irked. Sandeep Chowta's background score is fitting in some instances, loud and jarring in some other moments. He doesn't maintain some amount of uniformity in the output.