Quick Gun Murugan
Cast: Rajendra Prasad, Naseer
Direction: Shashanka Ghosh
Something happened to us in the ‘90s. A lot of which is rightly credited to the then Finance Minister (and the present PM) Manmohan Singh, though curiously not as much to his under-rated boss, PV Narasimha Rao.
India began to economically leap out of a soft-socialist, porous curtain. The insecurities of the urbane Indian toward the West gradually gave way to a certain swagger about being who you were.
Doordarshan ceased to be our only source of entertainment and the world at large. MTV, and later Channel V (with a similar logo), imported into our homes, multiple advertisements of the desi cool. It isn’t acknowledged enough how these two TV stations alone gave many Indians a sense of self, beyond a sense of humour: We’re like this only.
Quick Gun Murugan, one tumbler whisky, one plate masala dosa, was one of this New India’s early mascots. Shashanka Ghosh was the creative director; Rajesh Devraj, its uncannily brilliant writer and concept guru.
Fifteen years since, Bollywood is a thing of discotheque-cool; our peculiar English isn’t considered poor anymore, only naughtily different; and Quick Gun Murugan is a full-length film. This low-budget picture, amateurish in portions, could well remain a minor Sholay for what’s now called the MTV generation.
This gentle soul of the spoofy Sambar Western (Rajendra Prasad; Quick Gun forever) is committed to vegetarianism, and his dead lover in his locket (Anu Menon). Even non-vegetarian jokes don’t go down too well into his system. And a woman, buxom to the southern Indian taste, Mango Dolly (Rambha), just can’t get into his red leather tights.
This cowboy wants to save cows, I presume, from turning into fillings in the dosa. You instantly take a shine on him, to a moment where you could fill in the pet words “Mind It” in the monologue, even though he doesn’t say it on cue himself. Rice Plate Reddy (Naseer) of the McDosa’s chain is the non-vegetarian, evil archenemy. Rowdy MBA (Raju Sundaram) is the gun-totting corporate henchman.
Clearly the plot ain’t the point. This is true for Westerns, truer still for its parody. The background score sometimes starts off with an Indian flute rendition of The Good The Bad The Ugly theme. Quick Gun literally bites the bullet. His rivals are nearly equal gun-masters. Self-indulgence is supreme. Sure, there are scenes that occasion fatigue.
Yet, it’s an achievement how the makers have turned a 60-second vignette into a full-length, full-blown farce, and importantly, succeeded in an almost undivided attention from their audience. This is a genre Indian cinema isn’t the most proficient at.
The film strews along the way its own subtle takes on business-suits, Mumbai’s traffic woes, red-tapism... The idiom remains cockily wild; the grammar, entirely original.
Ghosh’s directorial debut Waisa Bhi Hota Hai Part 2 was a similarly hilarious collection of crazy caricatures. I still can’t take those pub-brawling Sardarjis from that film off my mind. It was definitely funnier in parts. This one is so much funnier as a whole. Go for it, I say!