Baasha, the 1995 Rajinikanth film that went on to achieve cult status among fans, was recently screened at Fantastic Fest, Austin.
Sometime in June or July 1995, when the rain gods were kind to Hyderabad, an actor and director, with a few hits behind them, were relaxing at the Banjara, Hyderabad. They went out for long morning walks, ate breakfast together, brainstormed a few ideas, and then met up again for dinner. They stayed there for a month. The actor was Rajinikanth, the director Suresh Krissna. They’d already collaborated on super-hits Annamalai and Veera, and they were in Hyderabad ideating the script of a film that continues to live in minds of cinephiles.
Even those at the recently held Fantastic Fest at Austin, said to be the largest genre film festival in the United States.
#BAASHA is everything. Rolling chair kick, electrified machete, sunset handshake, clip on sunglasses, power hip pose, Terminator theme, tweeted @foamyrokks.
@ajwimsatt said: “Everyone must watch #Baasha if they can. What a supremely entertaining movie! I just saw it at #fantasticfest”.
The organisers, in fact, wrote to director Suresh Krissna, telling him that the hall was filled with non-stop claps and whistles. But, Suresh has stopped being surprised by the reactions Baasha elicits, be it within the country or among a primarily American audience that has never been exposed to the Rajinikanth magic on screen. “When making a movie, you never think it will go on and on, and live on in people’s minds. But, with this film, soon after release, I knew it was not an ordinary but a fabulous film. Eventually, every film of Rajini sir’s got compared to this, and it became some sort of a milestone. Technology and newer audiences have kept it alive in public memory and taken it to another level,” he says.
Baasha is an example of how a loophole-free script can lift a film. Suresh had developed it in just a month. Starring Rajini and Nagma in the lead roles, the film saw the Superstar double-up as an auto-driver and a don.
“Rajinikanth sir and I would discuss moments, ideas, and then develop it on the set,” explains Suresh, “It was like a bouquet of very effective moments strung together. We would never lock the script beforehand. I enjoyed the experience. It also reflected the chemistry between directors and actors. All suggestions were considered and debated without ego hassles. He would sometimes call at midnight, saying ‘I have an idea’.”
By now, everyone’s favourite moment in the film is the “Ayya, ennoda paer Manickam. Enakku innoru panerum irukku,” [Sir, my name is Manickam, but I am also known by another name] which comes just before the interval block. Suresh has spoken often about how the film took off from this one moment. The clues given before add up, taking the reveal to another level. “I’d rate Baasha as a fine example of a good script. It has every commercial element, and a powerful story.”
Another reason for Baasha to strike a chord was that after a long gap, people got to see Rajinikanth in a role that also had shades of grey, and oodles of style. “I never doubted whether people would accept that character. Rajini sir has the kind of persona that endears him to people,” says the director.
Of course, one question that every filmgoer has is, ‘when will Suresh and Rajinikanth team up for another film to extend their hattrick of hits?’
“That’s something you will have to direct to Poes Garden,” laughs the director.
Also Read: Fans Celebrate Baasha Re-release.
The Suresh Krissna interview is a Silverscreen exclusive.