If Ali G, Borat and Bruno could successfully be scaled up from a TV sketch to a full-length feature, so can Quick Gun Murugun, right? Yes. Especially because Dr. Rajendra Prasad has lived this role.
“They made him a past tense. Now, he’s back to make their future tense,” the trailers promised. The man who once famously said, “Modhala sambhar, aprama nee” was back. This time, with a movie of his own. He surely deserved one after the likes of Shah Rukh Khan and Mahendra Singh Dhoni tried to steal his catchphrase.
We, the fans, smacked our lips at the prospect of getting more dosas of this masala that seemed like it could give Bollywood a run for its funny. If Ali G, Borat and Bruno could successfully be scaled up from a TV sketch to a full-length feature, so can Quick Gun Murugun, right? Yes. Especially because Dr. Rajendra Prasad has lived this role.
Not an easy thing to do when you are wearing tight bright orange pants, a big belt with the head of a cow, a gun-holster, shiny green embroidered shirt, leopard-print waistcoast, cowboy hat and a pencil-drawn moustache over a cake of make-up.
Yet, the legendary comedian makes Quick Gun Murugun rise above caricature and transforms him into an adorable old-fashioned Indian cowboy torn between a righteous sense of purpose and a credible sense of pathos. This is also the reason the film is less funny than we expect it to be. But, it turns out to be an earnest, heart-warming spoof that makes us smile every now and then at the charm of these characters and their language, rarely resorting to physical comedy, slapstick or innuendoes.
Having lost the love of his life, the brooding hero, Quick Gun, carries her picture in his locket and finds his purpose: to defeat the evil schemes of capitalist Rice Plate Reddy who, with his set of rowdies, is taking over all the vegetarian hotels and turning them into non-vegetarian ones. Shashanka Ghosh translates Rajesh Devraj’s script into a comic book, and the violence, further stylised with visual effects, is employed to spoof the Sambhar Cowboy genre. But what makes this rather predictable film likeable is the layering of pop-culture references. It’s the kind of film that is simultaneously a throwback to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, Ramayan / Mahabharata, Gabbar Singh, Jaishankar or Superstar films, and seamlessly at that (close your eyes to listen to the background score to appreciate the unlikely fusion).
Full marks to the design team, cinematographer R.A. Krishnaa and the music director Sagar Desai, for bringing this strange milieu alive. It’s great material to build a franchise on, now that we are acquainted with the gun-toting gentleman with great regard for ladies and contempt for rowdies.
There are quite a few zany scenes of inspired wackiness. Such as how the bad boys serially kidnap mummies and threaten to cut their cable TV, or the other in the middle of a rather serious scene when Quick Gun asks his dying brother, “Who did this?”
And, there’s that fantastic flying monkeys stunt sequence at the Institute of Coconut Tree Climbing and the surreal moment when Quick Gun snoops around the Ministry of Death to find a bunch of angels being trained in dance. Quick Gun and Gunpowder (Shanmugharajan) walk away with the best lines in the film while Nasser has a blast with the dialogue delivery (watch out for his dig on Big B).
Anu Menon, Rambha and Raju Sundaram are aptly cast and make us grin with their sheer presence. As a result, Quick Gun Murugun works as a series of 15-20 gags, constructed as an excuse for the characters to mouth their punch-lines, and strung together by genuine comic talent and a paper-roast-dosa-thin plot with no masala. You end up waiting for the next joke more often than laughing at this celebration of old-movie corniness.
But, are nostalgic digs alone enough to power a feature-length film? Depends on your temperament. Go with a kind heart, I say. After all, this film is the first of its kind. Mind it.
Quick Gun Murugun
Director: Shashanka Ghosh
Cast: Rajendra Prasad, Rambha, Nasser, Raju Sundaram
Storyline: A South Indian cowboy returns from the dead to take revenge on his enemies and promote vegetarianism
Bottomline: Sooper pitcher illai? Almost.