Veerappan, now in celluloid

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Gobinatham, Aug 1: Muthulakshmi, widow of dreaded forest brigand Veerappan, is all set to help a Bollywood director to portray the life of her husband on celluloid in an attempt to project the 'Bandit King's' real life story. The widow discussed the script and the shoot location with producer and director Ramgopal Verma in Mumbai recently apart from suggesting 'Bandit King' as the name of the movie.

"Ramgopal told me about his idea of making a movie on the life of Veerappan. Everywhere, world over, they talk about Veerappan as a killer, I need to highlight the real story. I need to tell how he was forced to become a murderer, how though initially he committed a lot of sins, and he later changed into a new life," said Muthulakshmi.

She said that Veerappan was a good soul and the locals even today regard him as a Good Samaritan enjoying a semi-god status.

"Villagers will speak good about him. He has never done anything wrong as such. Even today, people regard him as God," she said.

Ramgopal is the producer of the film that is being directed by Prashant Pandey.

Muthulakshmi, who is enthusiastic about the movie, had earlier made an appeal to stop a TV serial based on the life of Veerppan stating that it would cause trauma to her two teenaged daughters.

Veerappan, known as the "Jungle Cat" for his ability to move and disappear in the forest, was accused of killing thousands of elephants for their tusks and smuggling ivory and sandalwood worth millions of dollars.

Koose Muniswamy Veerappan, a tall, wiry bandit in his 50s, who sported a long twirling moustache and usually clad in military camouflage, was killed in a police encounter in Tamil Nadu's Dharmapuri District on October 18, 2004.

His death ended a two-decade hunt for a man who killed more than 100 people and kidnapped a movie star.

Veerappan had a five million-rupee bounty on his head and was believed to have had ties with Tamil militants that officials said extended to Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers.

Veerappan hit world headlines in 2000 when he kidnapped ageing film star Rajkumar and held him hostage for 108 days.

He was arrested in 1986 but slipped out of handcuffs and disappeared back into the forest. A special police force was later set up by Tamil Nadu and Karnataka but Veerappan ran circles around them for years.

His last big crime was in 2002 when he kidnapped regional politician H. Nagappa from his farmhouse in Karnataka. Nagappa was later found dead in a forest.

Veerappan denied responsibility for the death, saying police had killed him in a shootout. Authorities dismissed the charge.

He has inspired at least two Bollywood movies and despite his fearsome reputation, Veerappan was seen by many villagers as a Robin Hood figure.


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