Quick Gun Murugan will hit the screens by the end of August. We predict that it will make waves in the Independent movie scene. We had a brief chat with Shashank Ghosh, the film’s director, and Rajesh Devraj, the writer.
When did the Quick Gun Murugan promos first air on Channel [V]? Whose brainchild were they?
A Q&A with Shashank Ghosh :
1993, mid-year. They were the creation of Rajesh Devraj, the writer.There were three in the series; why not more, given how popular they were?
They were created for a purpose which was to give Channel [V] an identity in the year of launch. They did the job. The team then went on to create many more memorable characters like Postman, Aunty 303, Udham Singh, the Jaaved characters.
On to the movie. When did the idea for the movie first come up? Whose idea was it?
The idea for came from the then-head of Star TV Asia, Gary Davey, in 1994.How many of the original team are involved with the movie?
Rajesh Devraj, the writer, Suresh Manian, who worked with Devi [Devraj] on the Tamil end of the scripts, me, the director and Anand Surapur of Phatphish Pictures, the producer. Anand was part of Channel [V] in its initial stages and he was responsible for the final decision to get the project of the ground. He also was instrumental in casting Dr Rajendra Prasad as Quick Gun and taking the film to another level in terms of special effects.How easy or tough was it to take the original concept, designed for a series of short promos, and convert it to a full-length movie?
I think Devi should answer that, but I’d say it wasn’t a piece of cake; to take three gags and then convert them into a sustainable story required a lot of balance and hard work. Although I am sure Devi will say I gave him the hardest time. [Smiles]What language(s) is the movie in?
It is shot in English and Tamil, but is match-dubbed for full length Hindi and Tamil versions also. Why took the movie so long to come to the screens? It was ready quite some time ago, right?
Sixteen years from first draft, ha ha! Two-and-a-half years in the making. As to why it took time.. It has 2 versions in edit; an Indian one and an international one, which is radically different. In addition it has three language versions which were supervised by the direction team along with a kick-ass dub team. Each has its own flavour and I have been told that one can watch any of them and get as much fun out of each. A new concept movie generally faces a lot of obstacles and this one had its fair share of them. These emanate from lack of conviction; after all asking an investor to place a lot of money behind something that has no reference in the market is a big ask. Thankfully the core team with Anand Surapur stood by it steadfastly.Do you think that Quick Gun Murugan will still make an impact beyond his original fans?
Yes, I believe we have updated the character and the film and it should do well. Damn! I sure hope it does well.
Channel [V]'s ground-breaking work — making Indian popular music cool — is done. There's no question now that youngsters are very happy to think Bollypop first and always.
Much like Channel [V] in that time, today I think Indian audiences are willing to sample new fare; guys like Vishal Bhardwaj, Anurag Kashyap, Imtiaz Ali, Nishikant Kamat, Sudhir Mishra are all doling out a new film sensibility that can’t be dismissed as marginal. So I think we are at a point where there is a sufficient audience to justify a concept film that stretches beyond yesterdays Bollywood formula. As for Quick Gun, it is all masala anyway. [Grins]Rajesh Devraj
talks about Quick Gun: How easy or tough was it to take the original concept, designed for a series of short promos, and convert it to a full-length movie?
I started out with this absurd thought: in a country where cows are sacred, surely a cowboy has a sacred duty? So the basic plotline — a lone vegetarian cowboy battling against an evil fast-food tycoon — suggested itself quite easily. That said, writing the movie was really tough for me, because this was the first script I wrote, about fourteen years ago, and at that time, I had no clue how to go about it. The process was tough, extending the idea wasn't; if anything, my problem was that I had far too much material, far too many ideas.How many versions did the script go through?
Two drafts at the time I wrote the script, and then, when the movie went into production many years later, I was given time to do a quick rewrite - basic fixes, no more.What inspired the character? Could you tell us a bit about how you put him together?
The character is inspired by Tamil cinema, of course and a bunch of other eclectic influences. I developed Quick Gun originally as a cartoon, a comic strip character — I had ambitions of getting into cartooning at one point in my life — I did some sketches of the character, worked out his look and style, doodled some gags, but didn't take the idea further till a couple of years later, when I suggested to Shashank that we could make promos based on the characterChannel [V]'s ground-breaking work — making Indian popular music cool — is done. There's no question now that youngsters are very happy to think Bollypop first and always. Do you think that Quick Gun Murugan will still make an impact beyond his original fans?
You forget that Shashank and I started out in promos. Our work was not to ‘make Indian music cool,’ but to find a voice, a style for the channel, which we did by digging into stuff considered trash or infra dig at that time. These ideas are fairly mainstream now — on TV, in books, magazines, art and even Bollywood itself (Om Shanti Om was Bollywood spoofing Bollywood for a mass audience). So yes, there should be an audience out there for this stuff. The rest really depends on what Shashank has done with the story.
(This article is excerpted from the latest Forbes India 28 August, 2009 issue which is now available at news stands and book stores. You can buy our tablet version from Magzter.com)