Bigil movie review: This Vijay-starrer is unnecessarily bloated with multiple characters and subplots.
Bigil movie cast: Vijay, Nayanthara, Jackie Shroff, Yogi Babu
Bigil movie director: Atlee
Bigil movie rating: 2.5 stars
Bigil is a Vijay film made by a fan and Atlee goes to great lengths to show the actor is the messiah of the masses—to be more precise, the next MGR. The film begins with students protesting to save their college building from demolition. Michael (Vijay) a don and do-gooder comes to their rescue. He says, “Happy Deepavali, Nanba”, too. Fans go berserk in the theatre.
Though Bigil doesn’t discuss politics, it indirectly keeps telling, Vijay is the face of Tamil Nadu and a potential Chief Ministerial candidate. It also tells the story of Rayappan, Michael’s father. In one of the scenes, Rayappan (the older Vijay) listens to ‘Enna dhaan nadakkum… nadakattume’, a popular number of the late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister. In another one, we get the ‘Thalaivan Irukkiraan’ reference; another MGR film.
Ever since the birth of DMK, cinema and politics have remained intertwined—considering how MGR was the only powerful full-fledged actor-turned-politician, who went on to rule the State. (Rajinikanth is still taking the plunge; while his peer Kamal Haasan is into politics) It’s interesting how every time Vijay is shown like another MGR, fans hoot and whistle and go crazy. This is about making people believe what the director believes Vijay is.
Let’s talk about inconsistencies and the exhausting length of Bigil. It was promoted as an ambitious sports drama, but the coach Michael spends more time mouthing punch dialogues than training the girls in football. Bigil isn’t another formulaic sports film, but it’s pretty much set in a template. You have this underdog element, and you know who’s going to win against all odds. Atlee somehow manages to make everything ‘look’ effective. But that doesn’t mean Bigil is a good film.
This Vijay-starrer is unnecessarily bloated with multiple characters and subplots. Atlee has so much to say and struggles to deliver what he promised in three hours. Usually, coaches build the team, and push players to succeed. In Bigil, Michael ‘motivates’ his team, by insulting them. He calls one of the players ‘gundamma’ (fat woman, literally), multiple times; so that she delivers a goal. I wonder when a fat-shaming exercise was considered ‘encouragement’.
In an ’empowering’ film, you see the camera focusing on the same Pandiyamma as she comes running to the stadium. We are shown the earth to be shaking, in a bid to get us laughing. Also, talk about that misplaced-awful background music! Even though Michael says, ‘saadhikka azhagu mukkiyam illa’, the tone of the scene is incorrect. And, that is not how you conceive it. Though Vijay brings to the role a cheerful enthusiasm, there’s little gravitas. In lots of places, Atlee forgets his protagonist is Michael, the coach. The dialogues, match sequences and everything is for ‘Thalapathy’ Vijay and panders to his image.
Nayanthara plays Michael’s love interest, Angel. It is frustrating to see her character go behind Michael, wherever he goes like a Hutch Dog. She’s shown as a physiotherapist, but she doesn’t do any related chores on the screen.
Though Bigil has a subplot on women’s football, there’s very little about the players, their lives, ordeals and dreams. Bigil thinks Vijay is this Lord Krishna, who drives the chariot. In Mahabharata, Krishna is the driver of the horse cart. Here, Michael is both the saviour and Sarathy – the driver, who rides a chariot, driven by horses (read: women players). This visual appears in one of the crucial scenes.
The important football scenes that happen in the stadium are poorly choreographed. It feels like I was watching a video game played to a packed movie hall. Fans didn’t seem to have an issue, whereas I did. Those slow-mo shots of Michael playing football were extremely filmy and there are zero tinges of realism. Archana Kalpathi, the creative producer, had told the makers had spent Rs 180 crore on the film, but the output is remotely impressive.
I quite liked Rayappan, rather. Vijay is terrific as the don, who stutters. There’s some honesty in the way he speaks and behaves. But his character reminded me of Rajinikanth in Kaala and Kamal Haasan in Naayagan. Atlee must be a fan of Ulaganayagan, I guess. Because, in Bigil, there’s this ‘Odavum Mudiyadhu Oliyavum Mudiyadhu’ reference from Bigg Boss Tamil 2, as well. If Mersal closely resembled Aboorva Sagotharargal, Bigil is the modern version of half-baked Naayagan, sans vision and class. I think I’m being kind.
The two Vijay characters cohere, but the two halves of the film, don’t.
Further, we have Pariyerum Perumal-fame Kathir as a football coach in a severely underwritten role. But considering how he’s a huge fan of Vijay, he should have been happy with whatever he was offered. Bigil also has comedian Vivekh in a blink-miss role. I wish powerhouses of talent like Jackie Shroff and Daniel Balaji were given more solid roles to perform. I also liked Reba Monica John’s character, Anitha (an acid attack survivor) and how it was conceived.
The manner, in which films manage to strike a chord between messaging and entertainment without trading the essentials of the universe, is interesting. Atlee pulls the loose threads together in the thrilling final match sequences, but Bigil isn’t Vijay’s Dangal or “Chak De India on steroids” like Shah Rukh had mentioned. Had Atlee put more thought into the screenplay, ideation and execution, I am sure this would have been a better film, compared to their earlier collaborations, Theri and Mersal.