Features
Lampooning Legend
Abhimanyu A catches up with Anil Banerjee, the brain behind 'Munshi' as the much popular show completes 10 years of uninterrupted infotainment.
On Nov 16, 2010

 

‘Munshi’, the less-than-five-minute satire aired on Asianet, which takes a sarcastic angle to view current affairs, has completed over 3,600 episodes and is still going strong.

The show, which began on September 11, 2000, soon carved a niche of its own and earned a huge following. ‘Munshi’ often illustrates the shallowness of the state of affairs in the State and elsewhere, takes a dig at controversies, and all this, wrapped in subtle humour.

This trendsetter, led to similar series on other channels as well, but most programmes failed to make an impact as much as ‘Munshi’ did. The team made it to the Limca Book of Records in 2007 for the longest uninterrupted run by a television show.

‘Haajiyaar’, seen carrying an umbrella; ‘Thirumeni’, the Hindu priest; ‘Kariyaachan’ with a perpetually donned neck brace; ‘Motta’ with a rooster held in his arms; ‘Sakhavu’, a comrade who also addresses everyone as ‘Sakhavu’; a School student, who is ‘evergreen’ with a ‘Pazham-pori’ in his hand; Panicker, mostly seen in formals or sporting a blazer; and the Munshi who delivers the final punch line mostly in the form of proverbs, are the characters that give the viewers the sense of a ‘friendly-neighbourhood’. A harmonised characterisation that sets out a balanced secular atmosphere, with characters having different religious and political outlook, gives this program a collective sense of completion.

Currently, KPS Kurup dons the role of the erudite ‘Munshi’, Shreeju appears as the ‘school student’, Ayyappan plays ‘Kariyaachan’, Sreekumar enacts ‘Panicker’, Rajendran portrays ‘Haajiyar’, Madhu Pulavettam plays ‘Sakhavu’ and Hari plays ‘Motta’. Of this, Kurup, Shreeju, Ayyappan and Sreekumar have been a part of ‘Munshi’ right from the first episode.

Anil Banerjee, the brain behind this project who feels that ten-years is a long time, can only hazily recollect that the first episode was based on a short story by Kiliroor Radhakrishnan. “The concept of giving a visualised treatment to pocket cartoons was the idea that led to ‘Munshi’. It was initially based on short stories and other pieces of fiction. When we began ‘Munshi’, it was not about politics or current affairs. Only after 300 odd episodes that we decided to deviate to the path of politics”, he said.
Munshi, Asianet, Trivandrum
Screen-shot of the climax shot of the 2838th episode of 'Munshi' (Image Courtesy: Youtube.com)

Shot at a very rustic location along the banks of Karamana River, Peyad, an unpretentious backdrop adds to the flavour of ‘Munshi’. “We wanted to give a rural touch to it and so we chose that location. There is hardly any road that has been built along this route. It is impossible for four wheelers to tread the path. The whole crew, with all the equipments reaches the location on two-wheelers,” says Anil Banerjee.

The team behind ‘Munshi’ had also launched a website, last August. The site, ‘alakkucompany.com’ was the team’s experimental venture into the online space. ”We have received a good response so far,” says Anil who seems to have a never-ending affection towards satire.

This love of his can fairly be justified because, as long as politics exist, controversies exist and as long as controversies exist, satire will exist. Let’s hope that Munshi too, will stay on for years to make us think, with a smile. After-all, it’s about daring to speak the truth. Like ‘Munshi’ once said “Sathyam paranjaal, saathaanum naanikkum.”

abhimanyu.a@yentha.com

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This is an awesome 5min. Political satire at its best..
Scorpion Girl, on Nov 17, 2010 02:55:32 AM
 
 
@Scorpion girl: True... the 10+ years factor speaks for itself.
Abhi, on Nov 17, 2010 11:30:05 PM
 
 
Beautiful portrayal of one of the best pieces aired in Malayalam television. It is a wonder because many television shows that started off well, had later on crumbled to lesser quality stuff. Munshi is a treat. Hats off to Banerjee and team.
Tania, on Nov 18, 2010 01:17:55 PM
 
 
@ Tania : True. Consistency is not easy to maintain.
Abhi, on Nov 18, 2010 09:05:53 PM
 
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