September 5, 2002
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Rajni's world of fantasy
Some reasons why you should watch Baba

N Narayana Raju

It is fun to see films like the Rajnikant-Manisha Koirala-starrer Baba, especially for those who are used to see films of Satyajit Ray, Felini, Herzog or, for that matter, even Stevan Spielberg. As long as the viewer does not view the cinematic presentation in an aesthetic sense, but as a medium for living fantasies.

While the entire film seems like Rajnikant's world of fantasy, there are some situations which can be anybody's fantasy. The actor has a real rags-to-riches and nobody-to-a-great-personality story. From a bus conductor to a cinematic legend in his own right and having an overbearing political influence, he embodies anybody's dream. He is also known for his benevolent character. He is not arrogant because of his riches. His arrogance is of a different nature --- a commanding position to influence Tamil Nadu's political scene.

Apparently, Rajnikant is not happy with the present political system in Tamil Nadu. His dream of an ideal socio-political system and fighting anti-social elements is often portrayed in his films. He also portrays himself as a human being unable to overcome earthly pleasures. For instance in Baba, in spite of coming to terms with philosophical pursuits, he is unable to quit smoking (what would happen to his stylish acting that fans adore were he to not smoke is a different issue). His gait is more sinuous than ascetic!

Baba is the story of an atheist, destined for a sudden twist of fate, as he is taken to the family guru, who lives in the Himalayas. He is taught a mantra (chant) that he can wish seven times to fulfil his needs. He wastes his first three wishes testing them. The fourth time, he wishes for a million rupees, which he gets as he saves a rich man's child. He gets a cheque that shows the amount as 10,000.00 (the right number of zeros, but a wrong punctuation at the wrong place). Here, Rajnikant demonstrates selflessness by using it for others.

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His fifth wish is a facelift of his neighbourhood and the sixth saves the life of the husband of a Japanese girl (whom he treats as sister). On his seventh wish, he becomes the Chief Minister. However, he decides to leave for the Himalayas to join his guru, but the assassination of the presiding Chief Minister makes him come back --- a signal that he might enter politics.

Manisha-Rajnikant in Baba Rajnikant has scripted Baba. But it seems that the crew have neither understood the actor nor his script. Choreographers, the special effects team and stuntmen have failed Rajnikant. Right from his earlier films, there would always be some nativity in the dance numbers. But in Baba, he is made to dance like Michael Jackson even in a number where he has to invoke a Goddess' indulgence.

However, given the context of the film, one must ignore these and simply view Rajnikant's world of fantasy. Forget the technicians who have failed him. Rajnikant is naοve and honest, at least in his cinematic approach.

Baba is watchable just for that.


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