Veerappan began life in a small village, Shangapadi, on the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka border, the eldest son of a poor peasant with five acres of land. As a boy, he took the villagers' cattle to graze in the surrounding forest. Veerappan's father supplemented his family's income by hunting, accompanied by his eager son. By the time Veerappan was 14, he knew how to handle a gun and was also the area's best hunter. A distant relative introduced him to the ivory trade: by the age of 20, Veerappan was the richest and most influential man in his village. His involvement in a village feud led to him killing two men of a rival faction. Since then, barring a brief interval when he was captured while on a gun-buying spree in Bangalore, Veerappan has ruled over that forest, killing over 200 elephants and 138 men, including 32 policemen.
But the man who emerges from this biography is a sentimental, shrewd, god-fearing godfather, who wakes up at 5 am to pray over his weapons and doles out money and vengeance to villagers. He is convinced that he is invincible, that his destiny is to become prime minister and destroy evil men such as police and forest officers who kill innocent villagers in "encounters," steal their goats and rape their women.