Bagheera Is A Mind-Numbing and Regressive Serial-Killer Thriller

The predictable thriller follows the life of a serial killer, who sees himself as a champion of men's rights. But predictability is hardly the issue in a film as problematic as Bagheera
Bagheera Is A Mind-Numbing and Regressive Serial-Killer Thriller

Director: Adhik Ravichandran

Cast: Prabhu Deva, Amyra Dastur, Sakshi Agarwal, Ramya Nambeesan, Janani Iyer

Even before the title card is revealed, we are introduced to Prabhu (Prabhu Deva) and his newly married wife who are on their way to Sri Lanka. But Ganesan Sekar’s ominous score and closeups of the couple suggests that it might not be a happy honeymoon afterall. Seconds later, Prabhu brutally murders her. Prabhu aka Bagheera is a psychopath who takes the lives of women who cheat in a relationship, we are told. (PS: In his books, any woman who breaks up with her partner is considered a cheater). 

“Ponnunga azhudha madhar sangam varum, Pasanga azhudha naa varuven,” tells Bagheera. (When women cry, women’s associations will support them. When men cry, I will support them). And we see the tale unravel through the eyes of Bagheera himself. If you were wondering if this would be a layered look into the workings of a psychopath, you’re sadly mistaken. 

What we instead get is a series of murders, unnecessary songs and Prabhu Deva donning different looks to lure women. We see different women talk about Prabhu (each calls him by a different name) and fall in love with him. The timeline is slightly messed up. While we know that he is cheating on all of them, we don’t get a sense of whether it is happening in the present or past and if all events are happening simultaneously. Nevertheless, his plans are ruined when he meets Ramya (Amyra Dastur), a psychology student. 

While the foundation of Bagheera might not be different from Madhan Kumar in Manmadhan (2004) or Dileep in Sigappu Rojakkal (1978), the ideology of the film is as flawed as its lead psychopath. He is a modern serial killer or a violent men’s rights “activist” who introduces an app for men to complain and take revenge on the women who break their hearts. And Bagheera kills them on their behalf. The film glorifies and worships Bagheera for most of its run time, and by doing so, posits several flawed thoughts. 

At one point in the film, Bagheera agrees that there are men who cheat on women as well. But here is his reasoning for defending men who cheat: “Men will always stand for another man, that’s why I am doing this, but women will not do that for another woman.” The film gives one misogynistic discourse after another (including Bagheera’s revolting take on sexual abuse) that it becomes numbing after a point. 

There is a thin line that separates a hero and a villain. But Adhik is unable to crack that difference. A flashback, that comes too late into the picture, fails to pack a punch. So, neither is Bagheera depicted as a full-blown villain, nor are the emotional details convincing enough to root for this rogue. Once the flashback ends, Bagheera goes on to continue his killing spree. 

What stands out in this otherwise tedious thriller is Ganesan Sekar’s background score, which veers from horror to funky, mellowing down even scenes of horror. Similarly, when Bagheera chases around a girl to kill her, she accidentally turns a gramophone on. And the mood of the scene changes as he gyrates to “Pattukottai Ammalu” from Rajiniikanth’s Ranga (1982) while continuing to hunt her. 

There are a couple of scenes that try to make up for its problematic thoughts — one suggests that men are murkier than women, and another asserts the stereotypical comment, “Not all girls are the same.” — but they just come off as namesake additions to drive the plot forward. Despite the material in hand, Prabhu Deva gives a sincere performance. His expressions, especially when he switches between the good guy and bad guy acts, go wasted in a flawed screenplay. One of the film’s USPs was that it featured seven heroines, but it is no surprise that none of the women have any agency in the film (Amyra Dastur and Sakshi Agarwal manage to put up decent acts with the screen time that they are given). As with the films of this genre, Bagheera opts for a predictable ending. But predictability is hardly the biggest issue in a film as jarring and problematic as Bagheera is. 

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