Cast: Kishore, Arjun Sarja, Vijayalakshmi, Suresh Oberoi and Ravi Kale
More notable as a documentary of its times than as a piece of cinema, Attahasa is slow but powerful and experimental.
It tells the tale of forest brigand Veerappan who terrified the two states, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, about killing 2000 elephants, 126 persons, smuggling Sandalwood, kidnapping people and making crores of rupees.
A finely observed film by AMR Ramesh, its brilliance comes in parts and peaks at the end of the film when the special task force put an end to Veerappan.
Ramesh has concentrated on the rise and fall of Veerappan from birth to death (1952 to 2004), which makes it a long film. To give importance to a larger section of the audience, he has captured more of the neighbouring state than giving a bigger picture of Karnataka and how people here suffered more in the hands of Veerappan.
The first half of the film showcases how Veerappan (Kishore), as a child gets his hands on a gun. Then on the film revolves around his criminal mind and how he starts working with one of the villagers, looting ivory and axing Sandalwood trees. Very soon he takes charge and anyone who is against him, falls to his bullets, including the police officers. Becoming the king of the forest, he is often seen travelling between the areas of three states, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The second half revolves around the kidnapping of Thespian Dr Rajkumar, Nagappa Maradagi, Nagesh and Govindaraju, which could have been crafted better. Veerappan finally sees the end with the Special Task Force under the supervision of DGP Vijay Kumar (Arjun Sarja) and Kannan (Ravi Kale) setting up a major plan. This sequence is a must watch.
This lengthy film could have easily lost at least half an hour with no loss to the biography. The strength of the film lies in Kishore’s acting, Vijay Melton’s brilliant camera work and Sandeep Chowta’s music. Suresh Oberoi in a guest appearance role as Dr Rajkumar is wasted as it falls flat.
Arjun Sarja in a pivotal role as the STF officer has done a good job, but it could have been better had the director provided some more powerful dialogues to him. There is no place for any heroine. Vijayalakshmi as Veerappan’s wife gets no importance as she is often blurred, which of course takes away the relevance of her character.
Lakshmi Rai as journalist and Bhavana as lambani goes unnoticed. Vijay Melton has portrayed the entire forest and taken to deep routes inside the jungle. Editor Antony could have done a better job which would have made the film more crispy and interesting.
Telling the life of a forest brigand is violent but compelling. Biographical facts are not an easy job but Attahasa has brought an interesting element into Kannada films.