PRODUCTION TEAM: Jeyachandra Hashmi, Prabhavathi RV, Vasanth Balakrishnan

DIRECTOR: Sharath Jothi


Streaming on Zee5 Global


In recent times, there’s been no shortage of content exploring the life and times of the infamous bandit and rebel leader, Veerappan including the Netflix Series The Hunt for Veerapan.

Various mediums have portrayed this highly contested figure, blending fiction with stylized documentation. Zee5’s latest crime documentary series, “Koose Munisamy Veerappan,” enters the intricate narrative of one of Indian history’s most conflicted personalities.

Created by Jeyachandra Hashmi, Prabbhavathi, and Vasanth Balakrishnan, the show adheres to the true-crime procedural style, seamlessly combining the visual appeal of a documentary with the gripping energy of a fictional crime saga.

Koose Munisamy Veerappan: The Man Behind ZEE5's Thrilling Docu-series

The series delicately unravels the grandiose myths surrounding Koose Munisamy Veerappan, portraying him as a god-like figure to some and a ruthless tyrant to others. This inherent contradiction in his persona unfolds through talking heads dissecting his legacy, interspersed with recreated scenes that vividly narrate the events.

The episodes adopt a confessional style, blending interviews with archival footage from Veerappan’s late-period interview with journalist Nakkheeran Gopal, whose case files and writings in the magazine ‘Nakheeran’ serve as the show’s primary source. Here, Veerappan candidly shares his entire history and the motivations behind embracing life in the jungle.

The series kicks off by underscoring Veerappan’s involvement in the ‘Palar Landmine Blast Case,’ where 22 policemen lost their lives, setting the stage for subsequent clashes with gangs under Veerappan’s command.

Koose Munisamy Veerappan' docu-series review: Another iteration to the contested legacy of the forest brigand - The Hindu
The officers embarked on a covert mission to capture and quell Veerappan’s tumultuous reign over the Surakkamaduvu forests and the borders of Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. The show vividly recreates these moments, occasionally taking cinematic liberties with a supporting cast reenacting scenes. Testimonials from senior officials and social workers intercut with out-of-order talking heads reveal the lasting impact of Veerappan’s violent rule, raising a recurring moral dilemma: Was Veerappan a hero or a villain?

The filmmaking adds complexity by featuring Veerappan’s daughter recounting her childhood experience of learning about the massacre on TV, alongside villagers who revered her father as a demi-god.

This shift in perspective challenges the show’s version of truth, highlighting the futility of firmly placing Veerappan on either side of the “Is he a good guy or a criminal?” debate. The series refuses to offer a definitive guide through the moral ambiguity of Veerappan’s actions, given the enduring perception of him as a common man’s Robin Hood figure.
It’s a captivating exploration, observing someone systematically unravel a complex legacy, deconstructing the layers of generational wisdom and speculation surrounding one of India’s most renowned bandit kings. What remains are the murky, tangled versions of hearsay and myth-making that portray Veerappan as a multifaceted historical figure, persistently relevant in our collective consciousness.

Koose Munisamy Veerappan | A ZEE5 Documentary Series | Official Telugu Trailer | Premieres 8 Dec 23 - YouTube

The Episodes, cleverly titled “Into the Wild,” “To Hunt For,” “Bait Worms,” etc., distill his life story through expository reflections, drawing parallels between his challenging childhood and the predatory instincts instilled in him from a young age. The series intertwines highlight reels of Veerappan’s early years with insights from senior officials and journalists linked to the case, delving into the notorious sandalwood smuggling era.

Amid attempts to fathom systemic support, the background score in these segments mirrors the grandiosity of narrative film scores, emphasizing key moments. Supporters and associates consistently laud Veerappan, recounting tales of his bravado and larger-than-life persona, firmly tethering these anecdotes to his enduring legacy.

In the second episode, a beautifully crafted montage honors P. Sreenivas, the forest ranger who successfully captured Veerappan but later fell victim to the bandit’s brutality. This narrative tangent details the cat-and-mouse games between the two men. The filmmakers make a poignant choice, executing a smash cut that slowly fades the score, transitioning to a closeup of Veerappan’s face during an interview. His characteristic smirk accompanies his recollection of the encounter, adding depth to this pivotal moment.

The creators boldly delve into Veerappan’s political ties with key figures in Tamil Nadu’s history, including M.G. Ramachandran, and his transient alignment with the DMK party during various phases of his life.

The series establishes a clear link between his political associations and the rivalries/partnerships that shaped him as a significant historical figure, showcasing his adaptable loyalties based on the needs of his people.

Across its six-episode prelude to his legacy, the show effectively compiles years of research and scrutinized material into a compelling narrative, capturing the inherent duality and perplexing reality of a cultural figure often painted with broad strokes. This series lays a solid foundation for further exploration into the psyche and intricate legacy of a personality who, for a fleeting moment, cast a towering presence over our lives.

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