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Chimbudevan directs a new cowboy film in Tamil

Last updated on: November 20, 2009 14:26 IST

'People of all ages will like Irumbukottai Murattu Singam'

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Shobha Warrier in Chennai

Chimbudevan, a cartoonist-turned-filmmaker made his first film Imsai Arasan 23aam Pulikesi for Shankar's S Productions. The film was a huge success. So impressed was Shankar with the film that he produced Chimbudevan's second film Arai Enn 305il Kadavul (God in Room No 305). Unlike Imsai ...the film didn't do too well.

Now, Chimbudevan is back with his third film, a cowboy one at that, in Tamil titled Irumbukottai Murattu Singam.

An interesting aspect about Chimbudevan's films is the unusual lead actors. If it was Vadivelu in the first film, then it was Santhanam and Kanja Karuppu in the second. His choice for his latest film too is unusual -- choreographer-turned-actor Lawrence.

Kalpathi S Agoram's AGS Entertainment that produced successful films like Thiruttu Payale and Santhosh Subramaniyam is producing this big budget movie.

Back in Chennai after shooting the film extensively in unexplored locations, Chimbudevan reveals more about the film to rediff.com's Shobha Warrier.


Image: A scene from Irumbukottai Murattu Singam

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'I get a lot of help from the cartoon medium in developing characters'

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You are a cartoonist turned film-maker. Did you visualise your characters in the cartoon format first?

Though both are two different media, I get a lot of help from the cartoon medium in developing characters. For example, Pulikesi was a cartoon character created by me who later became my first film's protagonist. So yes, when I create characters for films, it does help that they were already alive as cartoon characters.

When you draw cartoons, you expand on the character so much that you know the character and even his thoughts too. Being a cartoonist has been useful to me when I create characters for cinema too. It also helps me in creating the story board. I draw the entire film on story board. That is how I convey what I have in mind to the technicians.

Similarly, a cartoonist needs to keep his dialogues crisp. So, while editing the dialogues of the film too, it helps me make it crisp in fewer words. A cartoonist is socially aware and he tries to lace the message with humour.


Image: A scene from Irumbukottai Murattu Singam

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'The old black and white cowboy films had such a huge impact on me'

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Is it necessary to impart a social messagein your cartoons as well as films?

It is not necessary. But if you can do that, your work will turn out to be good. If you can impart a message without irritating the audience then why not? That is the value of your creation. Your message is your originality. Though the social message has to be be subtle, the humour has to stand out. 

I have followed the same pattern in my films be it Pulikesi or Aran Kadavul or even in my latest film. In Pulikesi, I have spoken about the political system throughout. I have also touched upon caste, drinking, advertisements, etc, in passing. Only if you look deep into the story, will you see the message.

What is the inspiration behind Irumbu Kottai Murattu Singam?

In Tamil Nadu, comic books are not developed that much though it is there to some extent in Kerala. That is why comics in English like Superman, Spiderman, DC Comics, etc are translated into our language in Sivakasi and then sold here. I have read a lot of cowboy stories in those comics. You see cowboys in Texas talking in Tamil! They are one of the mild influences.

But the old black and white cowboy films had such a huge impact on me. That includes the cowboy films of Jaysankar too. That is where the spark came from.

There are not many boys in the world who are not influenced by the cowboys of Texas. It is the style that attracts you; their attire, hat, gun, horse and the travel.

Image: A scene from Irumbukottai Murattu Singam

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'The story takes place in the 1850s in Tamil Nadu'

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Was it easy to convince the producer to make such a film?

That is one thing I have to stress here. When a story like this has not been attempted in the past 30 years, a producer has to have conviction in the story as well as in the director, to agree to produce such a film. It is costly to make such a film. The producer has to understand what you have in mind.

Of course, there is risk in such a project. But in my case, Kalpathi S Agoram agreed to not only produce the film but gave me full freedom too. In that way I am lucky that I got Shankar to produce my first two films then, and Kalpathi S Agoram now.

Where does the story take place?

Like there are Mexican cowboys, Thai cowboys, German cowboys, and Italian cow boys, this one is a Tamil cow boy! It's a fantasy, so I would say it takes place in a fantasy land. The story takes place in the 1850s in Tamil Nadu. Whatever was there in the cowboy culture in Texas, I have incorporated in the film. For example, there was no electricity then, so they used oil lamps.


Image: A scene from Irumbukottai Murattu Singam

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'You will not see a sari or a veshti in the film'

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How does the landscape look?

It is Tamil. The world of the Indian cowboy is created from our imagination. We can't show things like in a true western. We can't show our hills with trees also. We shot in Palakkad, north Pune, interiors of Andhra Pradesh, etc. There are no trees but the landscape is not very bare too; it is a kind of semi-arid nature. Ninety per cent of the film was shot at such places and we created cowboy villages there.

What is the tone of the film?

Brown.

Who are the characters in the film?

The story needed many characters. Other than Raghava Lawrence who is the singam (lion), there is Lakshmi Rai, Padmapriya and Sandhya in the main roles. Then we have Mouli, Manorama, Delhi Ganesh, Ramesh Kanna, etc. There are red Indians too in the film though they speak in a different dialect.

Lawrence is the brave lion in the iron fort. The story is about a man who brings people together and helps them re-capture the area taken over by another group.

Padmapriya is a village girl while Sandhya is a tribal princess and Lakshmi Rai is an action girl who belongs to the opposite camp.

Throughout the film, you will not see a sari or a veshti (dhoti); only cowboy attires. So, the viewers will get to see a new world.


Image: A scene from Irumbukottai Murattu Singam

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'Throughout the film, you will see Lawrence tossing the gun'

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Why did you choose Lawrence as the hero, and not a well known star?

Most importantly, Lawrence looks like any ordinary man. Cowboys have style and I felt if I had a choreographer as the cowboy, he can add style to the character. Throughout the film, you will see Lawrence tossing the gun. You should see it to understand how beautifully he has done that. He practised for four months to get it right.

Will watching the film be like reading a comic book?

It is an adventure comedy, a fantasy, like what you saw in my first two films. Children and adults both love fantasies as they kindle one's imagination. So, I feel people of all ages will like my film.


Image: A scene from Irumbukottai Murattu Singam

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