Bigil movie review: Vijay shines in Atlee's adrenaline pumping commercial entertainer tailor-made for the actor's fans
What makes Bigil a winner is Vijay’s superb performance in a dual role as father and son
Vijay’s Bigil, directed by Atlee, is an adrenaline pumping mass entertainer, with a message on women empowerment and football used as a motivational tool. In a way it is also an underdog tale as you will root for the coach and his players, who have to move mountains due to family pressures, and surpass their difficulties.
What makes Bigil a winner is Vijay’s superb performance in a dual role as father and son; and his scenes with female players who are fantastic. His subtle romantic track with Nayanthara is the cherry on the cake. The film's rich production design, football choreography and AR Rahman’s background score makes it enjoyable. Shah Rukh Khan, who is likely to do his next film with Atlee, is reported to have said that ‘Bigil is Chakde on steroids’!
The story follows the basic sports template film, about a disgraced coach Miachel Rayappan ( Vijay) pulling together a football team of women that lack motivation and drive to do the impossible. Coach Michael (CM as he is referred in the film) was one of the best football players in Tamil Nadu team and was likely to be selected as captain of the Indian football team. Unfortunately he was dropped from the team by JK Sharma (Jackie Shroff), a ruthless businessman and the president of the Indian football association, on the grounds that his father Rayappan (Vijay) was a gangster and could harm the interest of the team. But Rayappan ‘somehow’ manages to get his son, whom he calls lovingly ‘Bigil’, selected to the Indian team.
However something unforeseen happens and he is not able to live up to his father’s dream of winning the cup. One day he rescues his friend (Kathir), the coach of Tamil Nadu football team, from a few gangsters led by his arch enemy (Daniel Balaji), but it changes his life. He is forced by friends and circumstances to step in for his friend and coach the women’s football team, consisting of misfits who have no team spirit and are playing for personal glory. Bigil hasn’t been on a football field for years, and the girls think he is more of a rowdy prone to violence than a coach. Can the coach bring about a change in their attitude and lift the team spirit and at the same time take on the corrupt sports associations to win the all India cup?
Bigil is basically a commerical film that tries to fit in Vijay’s superstar image, and Atlee does a decent job with tailor made fan moments. Take the railway station scene just before the interval block, the action and sentiments are perfectly matched. The father- son emotional scene is so well woven into the plot and the mass scene in the police station (though unbelievable) provides goose bump moments. Atlee, who has been criticised for his lack of originality in his scripts, makes up with engaging scenes that keeps you hooked to the narrative.
The trouble with Bigil is it is too long; nearly 3 hours (179 minutes) and the first half drags as characters are introduced in a leisurely manner. The film cannot be classified as a sports genre as it is more of a template mass entertainer. It is only in the second half that the story really kicks off, where the football angle and matches make it lively. The emotional scenes are the film's strength.
Bigil is one of Vijay’s best films in recent times and he has shined in a difficult dual role, especially as the old man Rayappan with a stammer and gruffness in his voice. Nayanthara is a delight and was a joy to watch her in a carefree role as Angel. Reba, Indhuja and Varsha are riveting in their roles as players. The music by AR Rahman, especially Singappenney, is neatly choreographed (Rahman and Atlee make cameo appearances in the song too).
Bigil is designed as a crowd-pleaser from the very word go; with the basic underdog story, women empowerment and equality as themes, it works to a large extent. Vijay takes Bigil to its winning goal.
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