Indian kitsch, long synonymous with saints-and-elephants exotica, gets new life with Shashanka Ghosh’s irreverent caper, ‘Quick Gun Murugun’. The eponymous character was born a long time ago, for a promotional spot of Channel V, when Ghosh was the channel’s creative director. It had instant mass appeal, and like Uddham Singh, another of Ghosh’s own creation, the zany Tamil cowboy stayed on in our memory.
This is not entirely vacuous kitsch; it’s about vegetarianism, about big mac against dabba food, and good against evil, all packaged as a comic book-style, absurd Tamil/Hindi potboiler.
I went to watch QGM with some apprehension. Was it going to be just one long Channel V promo? Can one zany comic book superhero hold a film? Is it going to be just wit cracks and one-liners?
I’m so happy to be surprised.
Don’t expect to find layers of meanings inherent in the best of comic books. Don’t expect great music or great cinematography or even great acting. It’s an intelligent experiment; one that will tickle you enough so that you laugh out loud.
Holding forth in a blazing glory of pink, orange, green, silver and gold is Quick Gun (Dr Rajendra Prasad). He is a vegetarian, Indian cowboy who swigs whiskey and smokes cigarettes, and who considers it his duty to be a messiah of the cow—against meat and beef eaters, that is—when Rice Plate Reddy, a hysterically cruel, wrathful goon tries to force a local restaurant to serve beef instead of sambhar. Quick Gun, in love with his college sweetheart (Lola Kutty), whose photograph he wears inside his locket dangling from a thick gold chain (when he has surreptitious, tender moments with the photo, you won’t stop laughing). He takes on the non veg mafia inside the Coconut Tree Climbing Institute, and is eventually killed by a bullet fired by Rice Plate.
He reaches heaven, where he encounters dead people queuing up for rebirth, some waiting to register for moksha, and some just having fun. Quick Gun has to be born again, and he convinces the officer in charge of issuing rebirths to send him back to earth to take revenge on Rice Plate. He is reborn 25 years later, again as Quick Gun Murugun, in Mumbai where Rice Plate is trying to set up the world’s first non veg McDosa outlet. In the big bad city, he meets Mango Dolly (Rambha), a grossly overweight, blonde bar singer who happens to be Rice Plate’s mistress.
Other oddballs drive the plot—among them is Rowdy MBA, an archetypal IIT-IIM geek who has turned riotous. Ghosh’s spoof on the MBA is one of the best things in the film. Don’t miss the former Kitty Bank dude in a gun fight on a Mumbai railway station. Get the drift?
Much chaos and mayhem ensues in the second half, including something called “Tiffin Terrorism”, until Quick Gun finally takes his revenge.
In traditional comic book style characterization by the writer Rajesh Devraj, every character in the film is larger than life. The villain, especially, represents evil in its crudest form—driven by obscene greed and violence. Played by the very competent actor Nasser, the villain is unputdownable and hilariously brazen until he succumbs to a barrage of gunshots let loose by the superhero. Some of the one-liners are memorable: During a post-coital moment, Mango Dolly asks him, “How was it for you?” Quick Gun replies, “Next time, put less elaichi in the payasam.” Priceless.
The pièce de résistance, of course, is Quick Gun himself. He shoots bullets, and shoots them coldly, but he is a superhero who cries; who is timid about matters of the heart. Like some good Indian boys, he loves the idea of being seduced, is drawn to the barbie doll with big boobs, but at the same time he is also guilty of betraying the unattainable college sweetheart. And he is painfully chivalrous— “Leave the ladies, I say,” he fumes every time he sees a woman being harassed.
You either get Quick Gun or you don’t. But just watch the film for the experiment it is. There aren’t so many out there.
Quick Gun Murugun is released in theatres today.