Watch | Why Rajinikanth is re-releasing his ‘Baba’ now: Director Suresh Krissna explains

Look | Why Rajinikanth is now re-releasing his ‘Baba’

APJ Abdul Kalam had just become president of India. Nokia 3510 was the phone that people flaunted. And music composer Anirudh was still in school.

That year – 2002 – was also the time when Rajinikanth’s superstar Baba hit screens. The hype for this Tamil movie was real as this was the actor and director Suresh Krissna who came together after hits like Annamalai and Basha.

With music by AR Rahman and starring actors such as Manisha Koirala and Goundamani, the film told the story of a carefree non-believer in God who then turns to spirituality.

Baba released to much fanfare, but failed to impress at the box office. However, it caused a lot of discussion and controversy, especially because of the scenes where Rajinikanth smoked and referred to the Chief Minister.

Twenty years later, Baba is again in the spotlight. It will be re-released – in a new avatar, packed with color and music upgrades – in December (probably December 12, Rajinikanth’s birthday).

So why is it being re-released? “I had the same question myself when Mr Rajini sent me his hard drive a few weeks ago,” reveals Suresh Krissna, sitting comfortably in his office in Nandanam, where posters of his Basha and satya, “He told me, ‘Watch the movie now.’ I had not visited again Baba for many years, and when I did, it felt nice. Rajini thought that a reissue of Baba could work, especially with today’s audiences that are big on fantasy-focused content, as evidenced by the success of Kantara and Karthikeya. At the time, I felt the film didn’t get the place it deserved. That will be it now.’

A new avatar

For many younger fans of Rajinikanth who have the Baba hysteria in 2002, this will be a new movie, Suresh Krissna assures. “After all, Rajinikanth hasn’t changed much,” smiles Suresh, “in terms of content, it will be just as fresh as when it was first released.”

But that doesn’t mean it will be the exact same movie – the makers have been working to adapt it to today’s demands.

While the sequences are color graded, the sound is also mixed and mastered in Dolby Atmos. “The sequences featuring the Himalayas are color-graded in a way that suits the modern palette of viewers used to watching today’s movies.” The original movie was three hours long and following the current trends of having a shorter movie running time, Baba will also be reassembled … to less than two and a half hours. “We want it to be a fast paced movie and believe it will work today.”

Rajinikanth at a recent dubbing session for the re-release of 'Baba'

Rajinikanth at a recent dubbing session for the re-release of ‘Baba’

How it all came together

Suresh Krissna remembers the day he was called, actually summoned, to meet with Rajinikanth in 2002. The director was in Bombay that day to meet producer Pahlaj Nihalani for a discussion about a Hindi film. “It was 11 am when I got a call from Rajinikanth, who wanted to meet me at the earliest. Pahlaj held Rajini in such high esteem that he arranged for me to catch a flight back to Chennai immediately.’

Baba, which was a very ‘different’ project from the Rajinikanth films of the time, the actor brought the idea to several people including writer Sujatha and political analyst Cho Ramaswamy. They would meet at Rajini’s Kelambakkam farm where the actor, rather excited, would tell the entire storyline he had written and his intention behind the project. “This story idea came to him when he was in a deeply meditative state, and he wanted to share it with the world in the form of a movie. Rajinikanth has always had an uncanny sense of storytelling and he realized that he was the best person to write and produce this film. It was a passion project for him.”

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Suresh Krissna may be known for his blockbuster movies with Rajinikanth likes Annamalai, Veera and Bashabut still made lighter movies like Ah and Sangamam which still have fans even today. Where does he rate Baba in his filmography? “It holds a special place in my heart,” he admits, “it can’t be put in any category. I still think about how this movie didn’t go over well with audiences. I remember this particular shot in the movie where an elephant suddenly stops in its tracks, turns around and blesses Rajinikanth You may not believe it but the elephant For real did it that day. There was something very special about it Baba.

Graphic: Albert Francis

Graphic: Albert Francis

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