‘The Hunt For Veerappan’ director Selvamani Selvaraj on why the story of the manhunt needs to be instructed now


Selvamani Selvaraj; a nonetheless from ‘The Hunt For Veerappan’
| Picture Credit score: Particular Association

Years in the past, a pupil journalist met a person from Tharkadu, Kolathur, who spoke concerning the time he got here throughout the notorious forest brigand Veerappan incarnate; when requested to inform his story, he would go on to discuss what Veerappan means to the native villagers however questioned if the world nonetheless finds the late brigand, killed in 2004, intriguing sufficient to jot down about. So when Netflix introduced the docu-series The Hunt For Veerappan, the plain query was: what makes the story of Veerappan related to at the moment’s world? “This docu-series is an exploration to know if the socio-political state of affairs of a society can create an entity like Veerappan and if he was certainly that entity. Understanding that is vital even now,” says Selvamani Selvaraj, the director of the Netflix collection, including that he needed the world to know every part that occurred throughout and due to Veerappan’s manhunt.

It looks as if Selvamani has been mulling over Veerappan for fairly a while, a lot earlier than he landed this venture at Netflix. However how did this newcomer, who’s but to make a preferred mainstream title, get to helm such a mammoth venture? “After working as an Assistant Director to Ang Lee in Lifetime of Pi, I made my movie Nila, which was revered within the competition circuit. Issues modified for me when Netflix purchased our small-budget movie, and it was one of many first three Tamil movies that streamed on Netflix. And circa 2019, when Netflix requested me for a narrative, I pitched the thought of doing a fictional collection on Veerappan,” says Selvamani. The streamer recommended making it as a documentary and having already been doing a little analysis into the story, Selvamani realised that non-fiction higher suited the topic. “I met many sources for the story and I realised that our job is just to allow them to inform their story.”

Selvamani Selvaraj

Selvamani Selvaraj
| Picture Credit score:
Particular Association

Selvamani and his workforce then spent 4 years making this docu-series — two for analysis, and a 12 months every for capturing and post-production. The story of Veerappan is sort of intensive and even cumbersome contemplating the a number of views, and Selvamani was eager on understanding all of it. “I learn the books, however most significantly, I met everybody I can to know extra. If I needed to find out about a police station that was attacked, I desire going to that location and getting issues finished there. Such a narrative has not occurred within the historical past of the world and it can’t occur once more as effectively; it’s so huge and felt like studying an epic.” That there have been many questions nonetheless left unanswered, regardless of all of the accessible materials, was what motivated Selvamani additional; the collection, he says, makes an attempt to search out these solutions.

Making it a four-part collection was all the time the thought however condensing and structuring a narrative that spanned over a long time ought to have been a little bit difficult. Selvamani had an answer. “We needed to discover who’s Veerappan, why he got here to be, why it was tough to seize him, and why it took so lengthy. For this, we divided the manhunt into 4 thematic elements: first is how he lived because the King of the Forest, then how the conflict with the police occurred, third is the way it all turned political, and eventually his desperation to flee the clutches of the forces.”

Muthulakshmi in ‘The Hunt For Veerappan’

Muthulakshmi in ‘The Hunt For Veerappan’
| Picture Credit score:
Courtesy Of Netflix

The collection goals to strike a steadiness in telling this slippery slope of a story with polarising opinions — some events converse of the crimes he dedicated whereas some justify his actions as excessive reactions to the injustice by the police; this ensures we get to see the occasions from a number of views. Members embody Veerappan’s widow Muthulakshmi, members of Veerappan’s gang and the Tamil Nadu Liberation Military, the locals within the villages, media personnel together with an investigative journalist and a photojournalist, the members of the Particular Activity Power, and so forth. To steer these sources to speak, Selvamani and his workforce needed to acquire their belief. “We needed to clarify the significance of why we have to inform this story now and that we had no agenda in doing this however a need to search out the reality. Each certainly one of them understood that and we didn’t have to influence them a lot past this.”

The character of the occasions that transpired was such that most of the incidents mentioned might nonetheless ship fire up controversies and Selvamani says he was acutely aware to not let something be misinterpreted. From Muthulakshmi narrating the abuse and torture she endured to the police allegedly burning down homes of innocents at Nallur and the alleged custodial torture by a particular power headed by former DGP and Police Commissioner Shankar M Bidari, The Hunt For Veerappan leaves no stones unturned. The notorious 1992 Vachathi case, nonetheless, doesn’t function within the collection and Selvamani says they prevented it as “it wasn’t instantly linked to the manhunt per se — that case had many different angles to it.” The filmmaker, nonetheless, cites S Baslamurugan’s novel ‘Solakar Thotti’, which spoke concerning the Vachathi case, as a significant affect on his work within the collection.

The Hunt For Veerappan options some remastered footage of Veerappan in pristine high quality and such archives have been like treasures to the workforce, says Selvamani. “I’ve to thank late photojournalist Netra Raju for a lot of pictures you see within the collection.” One other placing side is the intro track, by which Selvamani and music composer Jhanu Chanthar needed to seize the spirit of what Veerappan was to them once they grew up. “We considered the way it’d be if the forest spoke to Veerappan as a result of the forest doesn’t care whether or not you’re a cop or a brigand.”

Anburaj, a member of Veerappan gang, in a still from ‘The Hunt For Veerappan’

Anburaj, a member of Veerappan gang, in a nonetheless from ‘The Hunt For Veerappan’
| Picture Credit score:
Courtesy Of Netflix

Apparently, the collection speaks about this mystic relationship that Veerappan shared with the jungle. “He used to speak a couple of Vanadevathai (a forest angel) and a non secular reference to the forest. I can by no means perceive that as a result of he was somebody who might sense issues from the way in which the birds fly above or the way in which the animals made noises; Veerappan and his gang would concentrate on everybody of their eight-kilometre radius.” Selvamani recollects a gang member telling him how society misplaced the data of the forest from a person who spent 10,000 nights there.

Now that he has spent 4 years making this collection, who does Selvamani want to make a documentary on subsequent? “I nonetheless haven’t considered that however I’ll do extra non-fiction tasks. Up subsequent, I’m doing a fictional function movie (Kaantha, starring Dulquer Salmaan and produced by the actor together with Rana Daggubati), which is at present in pre-production, however you’ll be able to count on Tamil documentaries from me sooner or later.”

The Hunt For Veerappan releases on Netflix this Friday, August 4



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