The Hunt for Veerappan
Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Netflix documentary The Hunt For Veerappan based on the life of a notorious criminal that ruled the jungles of Tamil Nadu for more than two decades. There have been so many OTT platforms for consumption but Netflix would possibly be the only OTT platform(in the mainstream) which has been consistent in serving quality documentaries.
While the documentaries had often been on point, I was kind of overwhelmed by them while watching the Indian Predator series which was essentially different crimes moulded in a similar template. Even the documentaries on the Mumbai underworld and the cricket match fixing scandal barely generated any eyeballs and I remember having said that Netflix needs to go back to the drawing board as far as documentaries are concerned. And I am glad that there was a stall in play before resuming their duties with The Hunt For Veerappan which seemed to be a promising potboiler documentary seemingly crafting the life of the criminal tactfully leading up to his encounter. So then does The Hunt For Veerappan manage to impress, lets find out!
Story & Screenplay
The Hunt For Veerappan documents the life of Veerappan from being a petty elephant killer and sandelwood smuggler to being the most wanted man in India through the 90s and early 2000s. And while there have been fictional adaptations of Veerappan, I was thoroughly engrossed at the level of detailing that the documentary had to offer. The screenplay standing at 4 episodes of 40 odd to 50 odd minutes unfolds at a relentless pace, tactfully accounting for several people associated with the Operation Caccoon while also establishing the threat over several episodes.
The drama does open with the introduction of a few principal characters that quickly give a brief account of the rise of Veerappan in the jungles of South India(specifically on the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border). And instantly, the threat was established with every passing minute in what proved to be a chilling account of a notorious criminal. What I liked about the screenplay was the level of detailing that the series has to offer. From presenting with multiple facts across both sides of the board, the writing did delve deeper into the subject matter that truly made the watch fascinating. Also, there is ample amount of gore, either through the stellar sound design or the documented images that paint a terrifying chapter in the country’s history. It was a chilling portrayal of Veerappan for sure while not always sticking to a politically correct narrative. The aspect did ascend the documentary to a different level altogether leading up to a compelling final act.
Episodes AND THEIR ANALYSIS
The series is tactfully divided into four episodes that provide ample details about the then ongoing investigation and the final encounter of Veerappan. The first episode does set things rolling with a key subplot in the case that did turned the trajectory of the case for the worse. It was almost like Veerappan announcing himself to the state of his lurking crimes while also at certain levels providing a perspective of his activities through the lens of his wife and his subordinates, all whom have been brought in front of the camera.
The second episode is primarily a cat and mouse chase that does end in a bloodbath. As you would know, several officers did lose their lives in the siege that lasted over decades. But it also did highlight the intellectual prowess of Veerappan thereby justifying the fact on why it was difficult to nab him over the years. The terrain of the jungle did play an important part thus posing as a massive challenge to the forces.
The third episode was perhaps that one episode that really shook me as a viewer given that it involved the kidnapping of Rajkumar, a superstar of the Kannada Film Industry back in the day. This subplot could easily be turned into a full fledged Hindi film potboiler. But more importantly, the episode did highlight the shift in the mindset of Veerappan from being portrayed as a gangster to now a full blown revolutionary. I could definitely read between the lines on what that would have had on the psyche of the common man who at the moment is going through his motions in ultra sensitive mode! Something to ponder there!
The fourth episode lead to the capture of Veerappan while also presenting a more humane picture of him by showcasing his gullible nature and his vulnerability(which were till then shown in spurts across the previous episodes that did highlight his child-like charm). There was a minor hint at a potential conspiracy theory leaving you torn on what is right and what is wrong!
I remember being in school when the name of Veerappan had first popped up. Some of us used to discuss these topics even as kids despite being only superficially exposed to the news, either through the channels or our parents in turn. But this series did give me a good insight into the chain of events that did go in capturing the notorious criminal. The level of detailing did leave me in a state of daze while creating an atmosphere of fear for the viewers to experience. The documentary also did score in creating a grey area for the case which was presented from both perspectives. They do leave you questioning your morals while also implying thst perhaps both parties were wrong. Two wrongs do not make a right! This docu-series marks a thumping return of Netflix in form and it is upwards and onwards from here!
The Hunt For Veerappan is a chilling account of the most notorious criminal of the country through the 90s and early 2000s that comes with my highest recommendation. Available on Netflix and Highly Recommended!