Superstar Rajinikanth will be celebrating his 66th birthday on 12 December 2016. One of the birthday gifts will be the re-release of his digitally remastered Baashha, the classic 1995 blockbuster directed by Suresh Krissna and produced by veteran RM Veerappan of Sathya Movies.
Baashha was a landmark film in the career of Rajinikanth. The thread of the film was out of a potential scene discussed by the late Mukul Anand with Rajini during the making of his super hit 1991 Hum which featured Amitabh Bachchan, Govinda (in addition to the superstar). As per trade sources, among all of Rajinikanth's films, Baashha is considered to be the most viewed in theatres and on television.
The film is packaged to be the ultimate mass entertainer and tells the story of Manikkam, a Chennai autorickshaw driver with a heart of gold who will do anything for his family. But his past as Manik Baashha, a deadly Mumbai-based gangster catches up with him. Almost all current Tamil heroes have made their own versions of Baashha, which truly is the ultimate mass masala entertainer.
The director of the film Suresh Krissna had told this writer a few years ago in an interview: “Baashha was designed as a family entertainer revolving around the biggest superstar of our times Rajinikanth. It had all the essential commercial ingredients — romance, comedy, action, good songs, sentiments, punchlines and was released for the auspicious Pongal (1995). Everything fell into place and the film became a mega blockbuster.”
The film had the (then) glamorous Nagma as the leading lady, along with the late Raghuvaran playing the deadly bad guy. The music of the film by Deva was one of the highlights. Fans of Rajinikanth liked the movie more for its punch lines, especially the popular dialogue — “Naan oru thadava sonna, nooru thadava sonna madhiri.” (What I say once is equivalent to saying it a hundred times.)
Baashha has a historical place in Tamil Nadu politics. Legend has it that Rajinikanth wanted to celebrate the 175th day of the film in style and asked police permission to hold a drive with 175 autos, which was refused by then government headed by Jayalalithaa. At that time there were rumours that Rajini will float his own party. But egged on by his close friend GK Moopanar of Tamil Manila Congress (TMC) who broke away from the parent Congress party, he openly supported and campaigned for the DMK-TMC alliance which trounced ADMK in the 1996 assembly elections. Remember Rajinikanth’s famous campaign speech on Sun TV: “Even God cannot save Tamil Nadu if ADMK comes back to power”.
Now nearly 20 years later, much water has flown under the bridge. A more mature and practical Rajinikanth is a wiser man today and has the best of relationships with all political parties in the state. Sathya Movies has grand plans for the re-release of the digitally mastered Baashha, which they feel will even today may take a good box office opening. They are even planning an early morning show of the film on Thalaivar’s birthday for the fans. Will the re-release of the most viewed film in theatre and television recreate the old magic? Watch this space.