A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Bigil is a Bollywood sports action movie about redemption and revenge that sees the world of women's soccer collide with a criminal underworld. It is in Tamil but with English subtitles. Being a Bollywood movie, there is plenty of singing and dancing, along with farcical comedy. But this results in a mixed and confusing tone as the rest of the movie is a violent melodrama. Michael Rayappan (Joseph Vijay) -- the central character -- has a history of violence. He is regularly drawn into large-scale fight sequences that involve lots of stabbing and slashing. While the violence is plentiful and shown in slow-motion, there is a lack of blood and gore for the majority -- but not all -- of it. The most intense violence comes when a man is rejected by a young woman, so he throws acid in her face. Her immediate injuries are shown in detail. Later a woman is found to have been forcibly injected with cocaine in order to have her fail a sports drug test. Another character is injected soon after. There is no sex, just some light flirting between two characters. A character drinks when depressed, but when this occurs, anti-alcohol messages are shown on screen.
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What's the story?
BIGIL tells the story of Michael Rayappan (Joseph Vijay) a local crime boss who looks after the people living in the nearby slums. When his close friend -- and coach of a women's football team -- Kathir (Kathir) comes to visit, Kathir is gravely injured during a gang fight and can no longer coach the team. With a big tournament imminent, it's down to Michael to lead the team to glory.
Is it any good?
The mixture between out-right comedy and heavy drama is misjudged in this sports Bollywood tale. This is especially evident in the movie's more violent sequences. Take for example, the scene in which the action switches from an old woman driving a neon-lit airplane down a street while wearing LED sunglasses, to a character being stabbed three times in the neck. The women's soccer team sub-plot also makes little sense -- the team are apparently successful, yet require Michael aka Bigil (Vijay) to turn them into winners. The fact that they are crucial to the big pay off at the finale -- despite only being introduced towards the end of the second act, with their motives hurriedly depicted -- is testament to how badly paced the movie is.
The acting and direction within the soccer games is incredibly unconvincing, bordering on parody. While this could be excused if the movie maintained its comedic tone, with the violence and melodrama that dominate the story, it just doesn't work. Add to that the song and dance routines and the result is a combination of stories and tones that fail to gel together.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the violence in Bigil. How did it make you feel? Does the fact that it's largely bloodless or that humor is used make it less shocking? Do some types of media violence have different impact than others?
How are women portrayed in the movie? How do some of the female characters go against traditional gender stereotypes? How can stereotypes in movies and on TV impact kids' development?
Discuss the character of Michael. Were his actions justified by his intentions? Was he right to use his criminal past to save the team?
What did you think of the soccer scenes in the movie? Why is it so hard to make sports look believable in movies? Can you think of any examples of when it's been done well?
- In theaters: October 24, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: March 17, 2020
- Cast: Joseph Vijay, Nayanthara, Jackie Shroff
- Director: Atlee Kumar
- Studio: Screen Scene Media Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 179 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: April 16, 2020
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