In 1997, wildlife filmmakers Krupakar BS and Senani Hegde were held captive by forest brigand Veerappan for two weeks.
When Netflix’s new documentary, The Hunt For Veerappan, came out on August 14, several audiences pointed out that one major incident had not been touched upon at all. Much before the forest brigand kidnapped Kannada matinee idol Dr Rajkumar, he had taken two Mysuru-based wildlife filmmakers hostage. In 1997, Veerappan and his aides had barged into the house of wildlife filmmakers Krupakar and Senani at the edge of the Bandipur National Park, under the misconception that they were government officials and that kidnapping them would be of use to him. After 14 days in his captivity, Krupakar and Senani were let go, an account that they later published as a book.
The Hunt For Veerappan makes no mention of this, so we called in on Krupakar as to why the duo are not featured in the documentary. “We chose not to be a part of the documentary. We were approached some time ago, and the team was in touch with us throughout the making of the documentary, but we made it clear to them that we would not discuss or appear onscreen to talk about the Veerappan episode. We do not want that to be a part of our identity. That was a small incident that happened, which doesn’t hold much meaning,” says Krupakar.
More importantly, though, the wildlife filmmaker says that the problem with documentaries like this is that multiple “sources” are spoken to and not all of their versions are trust-worthy. “I know for a fact that some of the narratives dished out are far from the truth. Having seen some of the events first hand and having heard reliable accounts from some people, I know what was happening with Veerappan and the manhunt for him,” he adds.
Krupakar, however, adds that the makers of The Hunt For Veerappan have, no doubt, done a lot of research before presenting their version of events. “Within the realm of the interviews they’ve done, it’s a decent effort and they have presented several facts. It’s a young team and they have put in a lot of effort, but overall, I do not think that the documentary is impressive. Since most of the narrative was from the perspective of the police officers who served on the STF, they would obviously look at hyping their efforts. Also, I thought that one of their big misses was that Veerappan’s right-hand man Sethukuli was not even mentioned. He was a major force in Veerappan’s gang. Most importantly, they went a little overboard in describing Veerappan as a revolutionary, which glorified him,” says Krupakar.
Interestingly, Krupakar adds that Netflix has been chasing him for the adaptation rights to his book with Senani about their time with Veerappan, Birds, Beasts and Bandits for several years. "We are not interested in all of that and, hence, have not given anyone the rights," he signs off.