'Bigil' review: A treat for fans, assault on senses, disservice to football and women

'Bigil' may please Vijay fans, but fails as a sports drama, dedicated to women

Bigil-Vijay-Film-Promo Promotional still for the film Bigil | AGS Entertainment

"I don’t know what to say, really. Three minutes till the biggest battle of our professional lives all comes down to today. Now either we heal as a team or we’re gonna crumble, inch by inch, play by play, 'till we’re finished...."

Any Given Sunday

"I don't want them to gain another yard. You blitz all night! If they cross the line of scrimmage, I'm gonna take every last one of you out! You make sure they remember, forever, the night they played the Titans...."

Remember the Titans

"Behind every successful woman, there is a man."


Sports dramas have the ability to leave a lasting impression on viewers. The sweat and pain of the underdog, the disappointments, the near-impossible task of reaching the final, and the inevitable pep talk moments before the final battle, the final victory, the jubilation, it is hard not to cheer for a well-made sports drama.

Bigil is a female oriented sports movie, dedicated to all women!

Bigil is also a festival movie. It ticks all the boxes of a festival movie. Bigil begins with the hero saving the day for a few college students who are protesting against the demolition of their college. He then breaks into a song-and-dance routine and breaks the fourth wall to wish his fans a happy Deepavali.

The movie then moves on to the love interest of the hero and a few scenes that are intended to be funny.

Bigil is a female oriented sports movie, dedicated to all women!

The sports can wait though. When the hero's brother, who is the coach of state football team, is hospitalised after an attack by the baddies, he needs a replacement. The team has to head to Delhi for the national the next day. Well, no prizes for guessing! The hero was a fine football player in the past, before a tragedy fell on the family and he was forced to take up knives.

We get some sports action in the flashback sequence. But women's football can again wait!

Despite the initial hesitation, the hero takes up the job. Easy! No appointments needed, no consultations required, because in the world imagined by director Atlee Kumar, procedures are for amateurs.

When the women's football action begins post the interval, predictably there is no acceptance for the new coach. But he wins them over, and wins matches for them, saves them, protects them, guides them, motivates them, mansplains to them, makes them wear T-shirts with his name on them for the final match... what more can a hero do in a female-oriented sports movie that is dedicated to all women!

For Vijay fans though, the movie could be a treat. As always, Vijay is the saviour, an entertainer, an adorable lover boy, a great dancer, a football player with unmatched skills, a charmer of children, protector of the girl who he calls sister (because, what is a good Vijay movie without some brother-sister affection) and a thug with a heart of gold.

Bigil also tries to showcase the corrupt practices in sports academies, and how, despite possessing dollops of talent, many sportspersons are overlooked for selection because of corruption and politics. But this is unconvincing considering the fact that one of the players from Tamil Nadu, who was supposed to get into the national team, is played by Yogi Babu.

The movie, however, fails as a sports drama because of its scant regard for the game. A man who hasn't touched football for several years can become a coach one fine day; players can be physically assaulted by the opposite team in a match that is telecast nationwide and the referee can take the side of the attackers; players can be brought in to a state team on the whims of the hero; a player who hasn't played for the past three years can directly get into the game as if she has been practising till yesterday... the list goes on.

Bigil is dedicated to all women, says its tagline. But the women in Bigil are for the hero to woo, tame, rescue, motivate, mansplain to and sympathise with. The outspoken one is to be tamed, the overweight one is to be motivated through body-shaming; there is a girl who needs to be rescued, another needs to be motivated, and the rest of the girls in the team, whose names are barely mentioned, are for the hero to be sympathised with because all of them come from impoverished backgrounds.

Not that Vijay fans give two hoots about Bechdel test. Nontheless, Bigil, a female-oriented sports film dedicated to all women, won't pass the test because the film is not about women, but about its leading man. He beats the Tamil Nadu women football team alone, because why not. Much of the time in the training montage is dedicated to a dance, because how else can women train if there is no dance. The matches become ego clashes between two men, and an opportunity to settle some old scores between them.

So, in the final moments of the movie, we get to see the players donning T-shirts with the name 'Bigil' on them because a team is not about individuals with different skillsets coming together for a common goal, but is about 11 'Bigils'.

The indispensable pep talk in the movie is a personal assault on players, especially on the overweight player who is body-shamed and called names. How else can you moralise a beaten team if you don't demoralise them further?

Bigil is a female oriented sports movie, dedicated to all women!

Vijay is sure to please the fans as the young footballer, the strict coach and a goon with the heart of gold. He excels in the action sequences, and stunt director Anal Arasu leaves a mark in the introductory action scene.

Nayantara, playing his love interest Angel, has plenty of screen time but fails to bring out her charisma in an underwritten role. Kathir, who plays the younger brother, is underused, while Jackie Shroff and Daniel Balaji are one-note villain characters. The characters of footballers are poorly sketched and stereotyped.

While A.R. Rahman's music is nothing to write home about, cinematography by G.K. Vishnu is impressive, especially the dance sequences.

If you are Vijay fan, Bigil may not disappoint you, but for the others, it might end up as an assault on the senses.

Film: Bigil

Director: Atlee Kumar,

Cast: Vijay, Nayanthara, Yogi Babu, Daniel Balaji, Varsha Bollamma, Kathir, Reba Monica John

Rating: 1/5