Bigil Review (SPOILERS): If One Vijay is Good, Two is Better, and Three is Best!

What a big silly ungainly movie. I gave it a day to simmer in my head, and I am still not sure I fully followed the plot. But I will do my best to untangle!

Whole plot in two paragraphs:

We start by establishing Vijay 1 as one of those good gangster types. A bunch of kids trying to save their college from being torn down run away from goons hired by the politicians to Vijay 1’s territory. Vijay protects them and beats up the goons, all with a smile on his face. And then rushes off to a wedding, we learn his girlfriend Nayanthara has now had 6 weddings, and every time he shows up and smiles at her and she backs out at the last minute. So, good-hearted goon, fun love story where he refuses to marry her for her own good but she doesn’t want to marry anyone else, nice nice. And then he goes to a train station to meet Kathir, coach of the Tamil Nadu state woman’s soccer team, and the team. He promises to take care of them while they are in town overnight, but then his car is ambushed by goons and Kathir is killed. The team is distraight, who can coach them now? And Kathir reveals that Vijay will be their new coach! And tells the state association official (but not the team) that Vijay used to be a soccer player. FLASHBACK. Vijay 2 is a young soccer player. The son of Vijay 3, an aging don who turned to violence to protect his people but wants his son to take a different path. Vijay 2 meets Nayanthara when she grabs the cup he just won to beat up an eve teaser. He is in love immediately, and so is she. The first shadow on his life comes when he fails to be selected by Jackie Shroff for the national team, but even that is cleared up when Vijay 3 goes to talk to Jackie and begs him to reconsider. Vijay 2 is going to win the national championships, come home and marry Nayanthara, everything good. But then as he is taking the train away, Vijay 3 is ambushed and killed by his gangster enemies, Vijay 2 jumps off the train and picks up his fallen knife and is transformed into Vijay 1.

Backstory established, we come back to learn more about the female soccer team. Vijay 1 took his criminal money and funneled it through his friend Kadhir into soccer training for the poor. Kadhir taught everyone, and eventually discovered he had a really talented team of girls. Vijay consulted with him on each player, who to pick and how to train them. And now this team is going to the national championships for the glory of Tamil Land. Vijay also arranges for Nayanthara to travel with them as team doctor. At first the soccer folks aren’t willing to accept Vijay 1 as coach, but Jackie Shroff is there still and stands up for Vijay 1 since he knew him when he was Vijay 2. Vijay 1 is attacked the first night and the team is angry with him, but he wins them over by forcing them to do a stupid drill that teaches them to be a team. And then by beating them at soccer, 1 on 11. Just as that is falling into place, Jackie calls him in and threatens to disqualify his team. At which point Vijay 1’s gundas come in to announce they have learned it was JACKIE behind the attack. Jackie reveals his evil, when he met with Vijay 3 he asked for a bribe, told Vijay 3 that is how the soccer federation works. So Vijay 3 kidnapped and tortured him until he let Vijay 2 be on the team. Now Jackie is going to keep defeating Vijay 1 in vengeance for what his father Vijay 3 did to him. And then we have a strange little detour where Vijay 1 travels back home to convince the two star players to rejoin the team, one who got married and her husband stopped her playing and the other who stopped playing after an acid attack. Vijay 1 convinces the husband to “let” her play, that is how to be a real husband. And he convinces the acid attack victim to be fearless. The team now united, they win! And then Vijay and Nayanthara get engaged and everyone dances. But the night before the final match, two of the players are kidnapped and drugged. Vijay frees them and chases after the man who organized it, the same gangster who killed his father, only to forgive him and beg him to live a better life for his own child. They win the final match after all (and Vijay lets the married player take the winning shot even though she is pregnant). In the end, Vijay 1 has returned to being Vijay 2, running a soccer camp for the neighborhood kids and bringing peace.

This movie is sold as “female empowerment”, but it’s not. Although it’s also not NOT female empowerment. Kind of a draw so far as I am concerned. On the one hand, Nayanthara is an awesome strong woman who refuses to marry someone besides the man she loves, and who coolly picks out and goes after Vijay 2 (while letting him think he is going after her). On the other hand, the married player is convinced to join the team by convincing her husband, not just telling her “leave your marriage and do what you want and let him like it or lump it.” The female players lose a match against Vijay even though it is 11 of them against one of him. But on the other hand, everyone would lose a match against Vijay, it’s not a boy-girl thing, it’s a hero thing. My favorite part is the kind of hidden one. Vijay and Kadhir didn’t start out to raise up women with a soccer team, they started out to raise up poor people with a soccer team and the most talented poor folks happened to be women. This whole story started because they were gender blind.

And none of the players have a romance, not even with Vijay. And they are a variety of skin tones and body types (okay, the darkest one is also the largest one, but she has a real character too). And there are no punches pulled in the matches, they take the falls and the hits, and they wear shorts too. So yeah, that’s all good. Or at least, not bad.

Image result for bigil team

What Tamil filmmakers don’t seem to realize is that they always have a basic underlying message and the other messages are just topping on the cake. Forget female empowerment, this is a movie about a noble gangster standing up for the poor and oppressed, and about trying to find a path out of the cycle of violence. Good enough of a message for me! The extra little bit dusted on top is nice but not necessary.

And, also, its a well done movie! The game scenes make sense, so do the action scenes. Vijay has some great one liners. Jackie Shroff is (as always) effortlessly evil. Nayanthara is a kick. And AR Rahman wrote a few great songs. It’s missing some stuff, missing longer songs and more big dance numbers, missing more of the romance, I could even do with more fight scenes. And, of course, less naked Jackie Shroff (always less naked Jackie Shroff, should be the first lesson in any film school). But what is there, is nicely done. If you like Vijay, if you like music, if you like triumphal sports movies, check it out!

11 thoughts on “Bigil Review (SPOILERS): If One Vijay is Good, Two is Better, and Three is Best!

  1. Yay! I’m glad you liked this! I went the first night with a few of my friends and we had so much fun.

    So watching this movie and reading what you mentioned about the married player reminded me of something. My grandmother’s sister (great aunt or grand aunt? – I’ll just go with aunt) once was telling me and few of my cousins a story that stuck with me. She and my uncle were cousins so they knew each other before they got married. When they were engaged, she went to him to basically say she wanted to keep studying and become a nurse after their marriage and asked if he’d be okay with that. He was okay with it except, after they got married, the family was not okay with it at all. And he didn’t fight for her to stay in school. The thing is, he was the rebel of the family. The youngest, the first to leave their village, got into a career his family didn’t approve of…he had a history of going against convention and getting away with it. So I could understand why my aunt thought he could helped her with this and I think she still carries a grudge over it – understandably. I don’t think she had a horrible life or anything and I know there’s a lot of love between them but he didn’t fight for her. When I was watching that scene, I totally wanted the character to leave her husband but I also think I get what they were going for. In a very patriarchal society, women do need the men in their life to advocate for them. At least, I’d like to think of that scene more as a ‘hey guys – don’t be awful’ message rather then a ‘don’t ever end your marriage’ message.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yaaaay, glad you liked it too!!!!

      And thanks for sharing the story. I wonder if maybe there would be a way to combine the “hey guys-don’t be awful” message with a “leave him and go after your dreams” message? Like, what if she had left with Vijay, telling her husband that this wasn’t what she wanted from life or marriage. And then her husband had shown up at the final match, indicating he had realized the error of his ways?

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      • See, now that would have worked perfectly! I’ll admit, I was a little disappointed that Vijay didn’t just punch the husband in the face when he was talking. So maybe have Vijay punch the husband, the player leaves him and goes to play. And then the husband sees her play on TV or something and realizes how important this is to her and he’s proud of her. He realizes how stupid he’s been acting and rushes to the game to apologize and cheer her on.

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        • Heck, we can even still have her be pregnant at the end! The team and Vijay are ready to support her as an single mother, she will be totally fine without the doofus. But when he shows up at the game and proves he has changed, she can happily go back to him knowing it is her choice because he earned it.

          On Mon, Oct 28, 2019 at 9:57 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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  2. Thanks for the review, you say “big silly ungainly movie” but in the comments you say you liked it, i am a little confused. FYI general opinion amongst my friends is BIGIL is not at the level of Vijay’s previous movies.
    I chose to watch the other Tamil Deepavali release, “Kaithi” staring Karthi. I will tell you, this one definitely was amongst the better Tamil movies in this Decade. Absolutely gripping from the 1st minute, and no songs.
    Anyways, my question to you is. There are news articles saying “BIGIL” collects 200 Crore in 5 days, i am wondering is that even real. when it takes Hindi movies (much bigger market) with A lister stars, a week to get to 200 crore, how is this possible for a Tamil movie?
    I ask because you have in the past delved deep into Box Office mechanics, so maybe you can share something that i have missed.

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    • My first suggestion would be that people are lying 🙂 This is why I only trust international box office figures, and those to just a limited degree. India (so far as I know) has no objective third part group to gather box office data so everything has to be taken with a grain of salt.

      The other thing, which you would know more about than me, is if it is possible that the ticket prices for Bigil were remarkably high. I know they are in America, but I don’t know about India.

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      • My Kaithi ticket on sunday was $12, i think Bigil should have the same price. I do know the Rajini & Bahubali movies released in my US city at $30 prices, but not these.

        PVR Theater online website has the tickets in Chennai for this and other movies at rs 360 for the highest priced ticket. Also i kind of remember Tamil Nadu having movie ticket price control, thus the government has put a ceiling on tickets. This definetly was the case till 2017 and i have no reason to think its not the case still. Looking at the price at the premium theater, i think it still is the case.

        Below news article says in Chennai (the biggest city of Tamil Nadu), the movie collected ~ Rs 5 Crore in the weekend, and totaling all the other Global locations listed i came up with ~ Rs 25 Crore. I agree the rest of Tamil Nadu is bigger territory than Chennai, but i cant imagine it being more than 3 times bigger. Somehow it all does not add up.

        Finally the article mentions a Rs 180 Crore budget. When Malayalam movies with Mohanlal are considered Super Hits with a total Box Office of Rs 20 Crore, how can this movie cost Rs 180 Crore to make, and if it did what were they thinking. I understand the ROBOT movies had bigger budgets, but atleast for that the graphics can be pointed as the cost driver, here i am clueless. I have to assume as you did, that they are lying to get the headlines.

        https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/variety/box-office-collection-vijay-starrer-bigil-crosses-100-cr-mark-in-three-days/article29811941.ece

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree with this whole review basically, except obviously you’re wrong about Jackie’s naked scene.

    I too feel ambivalent about the feminist message, because in the way it was intended I think it kind of failed, but I did really like the totally matter of fact and non-objectifying way the football team was portrayed. Not one glamour shot or moment of them being presented as desirable to Vijay. I don’t think that would happen in a “western” film unless it was for children.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I need to have a “rank the order in which you want to see these old men naked” post in order for us to have a crowdsourced answer to the “how gross is Jackie really” question.

      Wow, you are right about the “western” film. Although a western film would also have made one of the players into the lead character, which means she would have to have a variety of looks and probably a love story too, because that’s what happens with lead characters. So I guess the laser focus on Vijay was kind of a benefit in that way? It meant the women could just be soccer players and nothing else?

      On Wed, Oct 30, 2019 at 3:15 PM dontcallitbollywood wrote:

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      Liked by 1 person

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