The Atlee-Vijay combo who have delivered blockbuster hits Theri and Mersal in their previous outings have teamed up for a sports drama, Bigil, in their third outing together. While their previous collaborations were strictly formulaic mass films, this is easily their most ambitious project.
Michael (Vijay) is a local ruffian with the proverbial heart of gold. The film opens with Kathir (Kathir), coach of the Tamil Nadu Women’s football team and Michael’s close buddy, paying the latter a visit after a long gap, even as his team readies for the national competition. Due to a series of events, Michael is forced to take over as the coach of the team. The crux of the film deals with his scarred past and how he leads the pack of girls to championship glory.
The plot reminds you of Shah Rukh Khan’s 2007 blockbuster Chak De India where he played the coach of Indian women’s hockey team. In fact, in Bigil’s official trailer, there is a scene that shows Vijay interacting with the girls during training. That looks like a mirror image of the first interaction Shah Rukh Khan has with the girls in the Shimit Amin film. Getting inspired is totally alright but the lack of creativity is obvious here.
It’s an open secret that Atlee’s films are always spun off from other flicks. But what he usually does well is to revamp the core idea and present it in his style. Here, he is at ease as far as the other portions as concerned but when it comes to the football sequences, there’s a heavy sense of déjà vu. The climax too has been lifted from Chak De India. The only addition in the sports segments comes in the form of a couple of sub-plots that act as a vehicle to promote female empowerment.
The backbone of the film is Vijay’s spectacular performance in dual roles. As Michael, he plays to the gallery and it is not something he hasn’t done before. However, it’s as the ruthless-yet-lovable gangster Rayappan (Michael’s dad) that he excels. It’s not often that you call a character with limited screen time as a career-best performance but this could easily be up there among the actor’s finest acts. Everything from the body language to sound modulation is fabulous.
The father-son bond is the soul of the film and their combination scenes are fantastic to watch. Nayanthara also has a meaty character and she does a fair job of it. That said, her initial romance portions with Vijay are monotonous. The girls who play the football squad members come out with convincing performances. Indhuja, Reba, Varsha and Amritha play the more relevant characters and, the quartet does their job with finesse. The film even has former Indian footballer I M Vijayan, who however plays the role of a gangster.
Jackie Shroff and Daniel Balaji have poorly-written roles but they put in earnest performances. Bigil‘s soundtrack is the other major plus with A R Rahman in top form. The songs were instant chartbusters at the time of release and the visuals increase their impact. The background score is riveting. G K Vishnu’s cinematography is superlative and gives the desired grandeur to the film.
Bigil has deficiencies in screenplay, especially in the first 30-odd minutes and the climax portions. But Atlee makes up for that by catering to the sentiments, and it works to some extent despite the stretched runtime. With a crisper screenplay and more attention to detail in the football scenes, the film could have turned out better.
Ultimately, all its flaws apart, Bigil is a passable mass entertainer and worth a watch. However, if you go in expecting a film with genuine sports sequences, you would come out highly disappointed. Despite its genre, Bigil comes across more as a potboiler than a sports flick.