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I stole a menu from an Indian restaurant for words that I use in Minion talk: Pierre Coffin

Filmmaker and voice artist of Despicable Me series Pierre Coffin talks about the journey of creating Minions, which have become a rage the world over.

Updated: Jul 31, 2018 17:26:13

By Henna Rakheja

French filmmaker Pierre Coffin is best-known for the Despicable Me films and the spin-off, the 2015 Minions movie.

Bello! Me want banana! Bank yu! Poopaye! Heard all this before? This is Minion talk. These cute yellow characters, who first aided the supervillain Gru in Despicable Me and then got a movie of their own, all speak in one voice — that of the Despicable Me series co-director Pierre Coffin. Among all the words that make up the mishmash language of the Minions, there are some that are inspired by Indian foods. That’s one of the things we learnt from Coffin. Excerpts from an interview conducted around the Indian television premiere of Despicable Me 3 on Sony Pix:

READ | I’m in total awe of Bollywood, says Pierre Coffin, the voice of the Minions

How did the Minions come to use Indian words like ‘Paneer Tikka Masala’ and ‘Kashmir’?

I love Indian food and [I] go, maybe three times a week, to an Indian restaurant. It’s this place where I literally stole their menu and took all the names of their dishes and actually placed them in every one of my movies. Like ‘Punjabi’ or ‘Chicken Korma’… I just put that in. So people don’t really know that it’s in there just because it feels like a nonsensical word, but in a country like India, people would recognise these words. I [have even used] other words because I’m half-Indonesian and used Spanish words because 3/4th of the population understands Spanish.

I [then] asked my friend (the owner of the Indian restaurant), ‘Do you have any words that I can use’ and he suggested ‘Popadum’ and ‘Garlic bread’. There are so many words that people don’t know. Sometimes I say nonsensical things, because I don’t [use words] out of the meaning but out of just the melody or the sound of a word. I’ve got this whole list of Italian, Spanish words.

 



Do you know that the Minions are a craze in India and are ruling the merchandise world?

Ooh! No, I’m not aware of this. This is crazy. I’ve always had mixed reactions to all that... just because it kills a little bit [of] what we are trying to do in the movie. It puts [focus on] the merchandising aspect that we as filmmakers don’t really think about while making the movies.

When you started the Minions journey, did you think it would become so big the world over?

Oh, no, not at all. The Minions were secondary characters. In the first movie, Despicable Me, there were Gru and his daughters. And we just created those creatures [Minions], like the bad guys in James Bond movies that always have a bunch of henchmen. We put a character to them that pleased a lot of people. And Eric Guillon, our designer, created this design that even kids can draw, and that I guess people have made it their own.

 

How do you come up with Minion words that are emotive?

It’s totally challenging. Most [of the] times I found that I had to actually write them up. I never improvise. I found out over the years — by [doing] the voices for these guys — that you don’t understand the words but you do understand the melody of their speech. So if they’re angry or doing something funny or sad [you understand it].

Which is your favourite Minion?

I have two favourites — Bob, because he speaks his mind in a very sweet way; and the other one is Stuart (the one-eyed minion in the movie) because he doesn’t care, doesn’t speak much and that’s inspired by me.

Interact with the author at Twitter/@HennaRakheja

First Published: Jul 31, 2018 17:25:53

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