Kollywood’s Imsai Arasan is back. This time with an Eastern take on Hollywood Westerns. Chimbudevan talks on the making of “Irumbu Kottai Murattu Singam”

Cartoonist-humourist turned comedy writer-director Chimbudevan made quite an impact with his maiden mega-hit venture, Imsai Arasan 23-aam Pulikesi, and though his second film, Arai Enn 305-il Kadavul met with lukewarm response, it projected him as a maker of calibre.

“It may not have been a money-spinner such as … Pulikesi… but … 305 … wasn’t a failure either,” clarifies Chimbudevan. “After my debut people expected my second film also to be a full-length comedy. They didn’t expect serious, preachy stuff from me,” is the reason he cites.

Chimbu is now busy with Irumbu Kottai Murattu Singam. The stills are intriguing and the costume a little too different for a Tamil film! “I’m reviving the genre of Hollywood Westerns which cameraman and director Karnan attempted decades ago with hero Jaishankar,” he explains.

Chimbudevan’s childhood fascination for films such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Fistful of Dollars and For a Few Dollars More that had the casual, invincible, gun-toting Clint Eastwood, and his league that comprised the unforgettable Eli Wallach, Lee Van Cleef and Gian Maria Volonte on horseback, only increased when he got to watch the desi black and white versions of the cowboy franchise made popular by Jaishankar.

But please don’t tell us that Irumbu Kottai … will have women replicating sexy sirens such as Jothilakshmi of yore in the female take-offs like Revolver Rita, for instance, released more than 30 years ago with heroines on horses, playing dare-devils to the hilt! Chimbu grins sheepishly as he says, “Not at all! Neither Sandhya and Padmapriya nor Lakshmi Rai, the heroines of Irumbu Kottai … sport saris. Yet we don’t have skimp or sleaze. It will be a neat treat for kids and elders alike.”

Set in the 18th century and inspired by the spaghetti Westerns of directors such as Sergio Leone, this period film will be a thorough entertainer assures Chimbu. The subject has been in the maker’s mind for long, and he is reviving the genre after 38 years to be exact.

What about comedy, which is his forte? “Sure, you’ll have a lot of it. Irumbu Kottai … will be an adventure comedy with a lot of fantasy thrown in,” he smiles.

Irumbu Kottai …’s cast boasts of a battalion of veterans that includes Manorama, V.S. Raghavan, Mouli, Nasser, Saikumar, Ilavarasu, M.S. Bhaskar and Vaiyyapuri. Lawrence plays the hero. All had to learn horse-riding. “Today everyone is a trained rider,” he laughs. “And despite the fact that the actors both male and female had to wear thick, leather costume, which would have been agonising when shooting under the heat of the Sun, they have braved the odds and come up with cheerful, action-filled performances,” commends Chimbu.

Location hunting for the cowboy film must have been a taxing task in itself. “Even for …305il Kadavul we visited more than 800 lodges in the city before we zeroed in on a suitable one. So you can imagine how much of time and effort has gone into finding the right ambiences for Irumbu Kottai … We’ve shot in Andhra Pradesh, Nagpur, Pune, Palakkad, the forest areas of Puducherry, the hills of Mysore and in Ambasamudram.”

As it is a period film the diligence is even more. And besides art director Muthuraj, who has 41 films to his credit, and other technicians, Azhagappan, the cinematographer, ( Vaalmiki was his recent film.) is working really hard. The reason being that in a project of this kind lighting has to look natural. Plenty of CG work is also going into the making of Irumbu Kottai … “The CG firm, White Lotus, is doing a fine job,” says Chimbu.

It sounds interesting when Chimbu says that language of the centuries-old story will be the present-day functional kind. “But we have the tribals headed by the likes of M.S. Bhaskar speaking in a lingo that will sound very alien,” he says and adds, “I like to reiterate that Irumbu Kottai Murattu Singam, will be a fun trip for the entire family.”

Before we wrap up I wish to know why he goes in for titles that stretch a mile. “No particular reason. I give names which I feel convey enough about the subject and invariably they get a bit lengthy,” laughs Chimbudevan.