Every Time it is on TV I Receive at Least 20 Texts

Rajini_Topten_Stills_006CHENNAI: It’s been two decades since Baashha first released. And yet, when you quiz Suresh Krissna about the autumn on ‘94 when they shot the film, he doesn’t hesitate for a second. “There was something very visual about every frame in that movie, that’s why I remember it so well. People sometimes wonder if I actually remember or if I’m making it up,” he says with a laugh. In fact, such is the power of Baashha, that every time it is played on TV (and it does enjoy frequent airplay) he still gets “at least 15-20 texts from people, saying they saw it again and enjoyed it.”

After the KB and SP Muthuraman era, very few people have done four films with Rajinikanth. Krissna holds that distinction. “It all started with Annamalai and then Veera,” he recalls. “The way those movies ran gave Rajini confidence that doing this movie with me would work. And so we started shooting Baashha in August,” he says. Shot in less than five months, the movie went on to complete a whopping 175-day run in theatres besides influencing pop culture for years to come. “Whenever people talk to me, they don’t remember the other films. It’s always Baashha,” he says with a mocking grimace.

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Suresh Krissna

Did he ever imagine that it would have such a cult following? “Not at all,” he says with a laugh. “In fact, if you had read some of the things that the reviews said..” he trails off. So what worked? “One factor is that Rajini has always been a villain. What people liked was his villainy, but for quite a few films before that he was doing comedy, love, commercial stuff. That Rajini was missing, and the second half of Baashha had that Rajini. It was a throwback to those days,” he explains.
Though they initially talked about him playing a bus conductor, the character of a don in hiding wouldn’t have worked, he says, “The auto driver was the commonest man around. And Rajini liked the idea. How well it has worked,” he marvels. Even today, auto drivers who recognise Krissna have only one thing to ask of him. “They ask me to make another film with Rajini just like Baashha. But sadly, that’s not possible,” he says.

Which brings us to long-pending chatter about a sequel. “Why not? It’s definitely possible, but Rajini needs to get over his mental block against sequels. He still feels that sequels won’t work in Tamil films, but anytime he changes his mind, I am ready!” he says with confidence.

Screen Scare

The scene in which Manickam convinces a college owner to give his sister a college seat, all seen from behind a screen with no sound, was inspired by Big B. When Hum was being shot, Rajini had a casual conversation with Amitabh Bachchan and Govinda about how two brothers were talking behind a screen and one convinced the other with just the force of their emotions – no dialogues. I remembered this scene well and suggested we use it in Baashha, as they never had it in Hum.

Star Power

The sheer power generated by Rajini brought a feel and emotion that only Rajini could do. He knows that he is not a great dancer, but the way he carried himself in the Naan Autokaaran.. song was stunning.

Onscreen Chemistry

Rajini and I share this chemistry. There was no ego between us. He never interfered as it’s a small line between him interfering and constructive criticism. He knew his own audience pulse better than me. If he wanted something for his image, I let him have it. If I wanted something for the script, he let me have it.

K Balachander will remain always alive in us

26suresh‘During Diwali, many films with big stars are released. KB’s film needed no stars. ‘A film by K Balachander’ was enough to draw the crowds.’

Director Suresh Krissna pays rich tribute to the late K Balachander.

Suresh Krissna is known for his movies like Annamalai, Veera, Baasha, and has worked with top stars like Rajinikanth, Mohanlal, Kamal Haasan and Chiranjeevi.

He pays tribute to his mentor K Balachander, who passed away into the ages on December 23, under whom he worked in his early days:

KB (as K Balachander was fondly called) is no more but he will live on through his movies.

Almost all the films he made bore the stamp of his genius. He was unique in his approach to subjects and his narrative style and that is why he was in a class of his own.

During Diwali many films with big stars are released. KB’s film needed no stars. ‘A film by K Balachander’ was enough to draw the crowds.

I was fortunate to have worked as his assistant for seven years and in 14 films. His classics like Ek Duuje Ke Liye and Sindhu Bhairavi were made during that period.

What made him unique? What was that special quality that made him a genius?

There were many incidents I can quote but there are some moments I can never forget…

The first surprise was when KB did the love story, Ek Duuje Ke Liye, in 1980. He was 50 years old, an age when many said you cannot make a youthful love story.

It was a remake of his Telugu film Maro Charitra, released a year earlier. L V Prasad, another legend of Indian cinema, had bought the rights and wanted KB to direct it in Hindi.

I was earlier assistant to L V Prasad and then joined KB for I knew both Hindi and Tamil.

I am not exaggerating, but the way KB worked in the outdoors in Vizag was unbelievable!

His speed and enthusiasm was unmatchable. He was a livewire, moving from one shot to another. He had a childlike enthusiasm; he wanted to capture each and every shot in the best possible way.

He was a taskmaster when it came to performance. He would not compromise on it. He wanted the actors to perform in the manner he had conceived.

There would be a lot of improvisation, especially when a fabulous actor like Kamal Haasan was in a scene. KB had a tremendous liking for Kamal Haasan.

Kamal Haasan, in turn, knew that if he put in that extra effort, his mentor would like it.

It was a treat to watch a great director and actor working in unison. The efforts of both resulted in Ek Duuje Ke Liye being one of the many great movies they worked in together.

The film was completed with a change in the climax as suggested by Prasadji. In the original Telugu version, the heroine is raped before she and the hero jump from the mountain and die. In the Hindi version, however, there was no rape.

Prasadji felt that there was no need to get the heroine raped when she was going to die anyway.

And Baasha lives on…

Director Suresh Krissna revisits the making and success of Rajinikanth’s epic film, which released 20 years ago this day

There are good Rajini films. There are great Rajini films. And then, there’sBaasha.

15MP_BAASHA1_2278629gThe story of an ordinary autorickshawallah with a past — one in which he was a dreaded don — hit screens on Pongal day, two decades ago. And it still finds viewers whenever it is screened on TV. Ask any Rajini fan, and he/she would tell you that Baasha is unforgettable.

“It was shown on television a couple of weeks ago and I got congratulatory <a id="FALINK_2_0_1" class="FAtxtL" style="color: #1c7dff !important;" href=says Suresh, who has also penned his thoughts on the film in a book titled My Days with Baasha. “The movie was like a magic spell; things just fell in place. If I knew how it happened, I’d be doing a Baasha every day.”

It was during the shooting of the Hindi film Hum in Ooty that the seed of ‘Baasha bhai’ was born. It was the early 90s, and the three actors — Amitabh Bachchan, Govinda and Rajinikanth — were discussing a sequence. They thought of a scene in which Govinda is trying to become a policeman and is denied a chance; only to subsequently get the job when Amitabh walks into the interview room and convinces the authorities. The three explained this to director Mukul, who liked this scene but felt that it didn’t gel with his screenplay.

“During a casual conversation, Rajini mentioned that scene to me… I thought it would suit the superstar,” says Suresh.

But due to other commitments, it didn’t reach the scripting stage. They even did another movie after that (“Veera, a film I wasn’t in favour of doing, but Rajini felt a comedy would work after the commercial Annamalai that we did”) but that ‘room sequence’ kept popping up now and then in Suresh’s head.

Then, when the release of Veera was announced, the world became privy to the word ‘Baasha’. “Rajini had already thought of this title and I loved it,” he adds. “Of course, we had no clue about the storyline. We just said we’d do a film titled Baasha.”

And that was it. The ‘room sequence’ came into their discussions yet again and after a series of meetings in Hyderabad, a storyline emerged. “We decided to release it for Pongal 1995. That meant that we had just five months to finish work.”

Thus the shoot of the film began. “One of my favourite sequences is the underground scene in which the don shows his anger for the first time. I vividly remember that just before canning that scene, I whispered into his ear, ‘Sir, this is the most vital scene. It should win the audience. Please give your everything.’ He just looked at me and once we went for the take, he did just that…. gave his everything. The anger, the fierce look in his eyes… I just couldn’t say ‘cut’ to that particular shot because he kept looking at the camera with so much power. I sent him a bouquet later that day, saying, ‘My Baasha is born’.”

It’s well known that superstar Rajinikanth has a knack with titles; in fact, even his latest release Lingaawas a title he had suggested. It was no different with this 1995 super-hit. “I read somewhere that he had a friend called Baasha and that’s why he suggested it,” says Suresh, “ Later on, we realised how well it worked; it had a Hindu-Muslim unity angle as well.”

He says that the screenplay, the actor’s screen presence and music worked in its favour. Raghuvaran’s villainy added a lot of weight to it, he feels. “He (Raghuvaran) was not an action man; he could not fight 10 men. But the way he looks and his dialogue delivery… were excellent. For any hero to bring out his heroism, you need a strong villain. And Raghuvaran fit that role perfectly.”

The punch lines in the film — Na oru thadava sonna nooru thadava sonna maari (If I say something once, it’s as if I’ve said it a hundred times) would certainly be among the most favourite among audiences. This dialogue — again suggested by Rajinikanth himself — was initially coined with the word ‘vaati’ instead of ‘thadava’. “We wanted a powerful dialogue, obviously, and came up with ‘Naa oru vaati sonna nooru vatti sonna maari’. We rehearsed with it. But just before the actual shot, we felt that there was something missing and decided to use ‘thadava’ instead of ‘vaati’. The minute he delivered it to the camera, there were claps all around.” Soon, everyone in the set was mouthing the dialogue — from the light men to the assistant directors. “And we knew we had a winner in our hands.”

Whenever the dreaded don utters this dialogue, he’s surrounded by members of his ‘gang’ — his faithful companions include actor Janagaraj and a couple of others including a Singh. “We wanted to communicate the anonymity of the protagonist,” he says. “We wanted to say that his loyalists will always be there with him… it was all done to add to the mystery.”

Today, 20 years later, Suresh’s only regret is that the team did not preserve everything that was shot. “We had to edit out many scenes as it was lengthy. There were many good scenes that we didn’t use in the final version you watch on screen. I wish we had preserved them; it would have given audiences so much joy today.”

He wishes to bring back the ‘Baasha’ legacy with a sequel now, but with Rajini not in favour of sequels, Suresh isn’t sure if that’ll ever happen. “He is not very keen. My thought is, ‘Why not?’ It’s been 20 years, yes, but Baasha can still be born again in a different avatar.” We’re sure fans are waiting.

K Balachander will remain always alive in us

On the sets of Ek Duuje Ke Liye

On the sets of Ek Duuje Ke Liye

‘During Diwali, many films with big stars are released. KB’s film needed no stars. ‘A film by K Balachander’ was enough to draw the crowds.’

Director Suresh Krissna pays rich tribute to the late K Balachander.

Suresh Krissna is known for his movies like Annamalai, Veera, Baasha, and has worked with top stars like Rajinikanth, Mohanlal, Kamal Haasan and Chiranjeevi.

He pays tribute to his mentor K Balachander, who passed away into the ages on December 23, under whom he worked in his early days:

KB (as K Balachander was fondly called) is no more but he will live on through his movies.

Almost all the films he made bore the stamp of his genius. He was unique in his approach to subjects and his narrative style and that is why he was in a class of his own.

During Diwali many films with big stars are released. KB’s film needed no stars. ‘A film by K Balachander’ was enough to draw the crowds.

I was fortunate to have worked as his assistant for seven years and in 14 films. His classics like Ek Duuje Ke Liye and Sindhu Bhairavi were made during that period.

What made him unique? What was that special quality that made him a genius?

There were many incidents I can quote but there are some moments I can never forget…

The first surprise was when KB did the love story, Ek Duuje Ke Liye, in 1980. He was 50 years old, an age when many said you cannot make a youthful love story.

It was a remake of his Telugu film Maro Charitra, released a year earlier. L V Prasad, another legend of Indian cinema, had bought the rights and wanted KB to direct it in Hindi.

I was earlier assistant to L V Prasad and then joined KB for I knew both Hindi and Tamil.

I am not exaggerating, but the way KB worked in the outdoors in Vizag was unbelievable!

His speed and enthusiasm was unmatchable. He was a livewire, moving from one shot to another. He had a childlike enthusiasm; he wanted to capture each and every shot in the best possible way.

He was a taskmaster when it came to performance. He would not compromise on it. He wanted the actors to perform in the manner he had conceived.

There would be a lot of improvisation, especially when a fabulous actor like Kamal Haasan was in a scene. KB had a tremendous liking for Kamal Haasan.

Kamal Haasan, in turn, knew that if he put in that extra effort, his mentor would like it.

It was a treat to watch a great director and actor working in unison. The efforts of both resulted in Ek Duuje Ke Liye being one of the many great movies they worked in together.

The film was completed with a change in the climax as suggested by Prasadji. In the original Telugu version, the heroine is raped before she and the hero jump from the mountain and die. In the Hindi version, however, there was no rape.

Prasadji felt that there was no need to get the heroine raped when she was going to die anyway.

But when Prasadji saw the full edited version of the film, he felt that it lacked the emotion of the Telugu original.

So he requested KB to change the climax to make it like the original where the heroine gets raped.

The film was in the final editing stage by then. To shoot the scene meant we had to go back to Vizag from Chennai. KB told him not to worry, he would get it done.

KB went to the editing room and preformed the miracle. All he did was change a few shots, interspersed it with close-ups, and in a matter of minutes he had changed the scene from no rape to rape!

That was the work of an absolute genius! None of us could stop talking about this incident for a long time… Even Prasadji commended KB’s editing sense.

Another interesting incident was when Ek Duuje Ke Liye was premiered in Bombay. KB did not come for the premiere. I was there at Roxy Cinema. The cream of the Bombay film industry had come — Raj Kapoor, Manmohan Desai, Yash Chopra.

After the movie ended, there was a standing ovation. Manmohan Desai stood on his seat, clapped and whistled!

Afterwards there was a party at the Oberoi Hotel. Raj Kapoor was seated at a table having a drink. One of the men seated at his table came and asked me if KB was around. I said no and introduced myself as his assistant.

He took me to Raj Kapoor’s table where Raj Kapoor was all in praise of the movie. He appreciated even the minute details of the picture and praised KB sky high. I was so happy.

Then came the bomb — he was totally against the tragic climax of the film!

He said, “Such a brilliant film but why the tragedy?” He went on and on about it.

It was late at night but I had to convey Raj Kapoor’s observation to KB. I went out of the hotel, found an STD booth and called KB sir. I apologised for the late call and told him what Raj Kapoor had said.

KB coolly answered, “Suresh, what Raj Kapoor felt is very correct. For that matter, all the audience will have the same feeling — why the tragedy? But it is that feeling that will be the reason for the film’s success.

The tragedy will be key reason for the success! Wow! What an observation!

The next day, when the film was released, it was exactly the tragedy that made people come again and again to the theatres, making it an all time classic.

KB knew the pulse of his audience perfectly.

There are many more things I could talk about. The way Sindhu Bhairavi was made, the way he and Illayaraja worked to create that Carnatic musical classic. Brilliant scenes, brilliant editing, brilliant performances, how that film evolved is a subject I can keep talking about…I can even write a book on that film!

Many people ask me why, coming from the school of K Balachander, I have not made a film like his.

I answer immediately, “There is only one KB and the films he made nobody can make. Definitely not in the way he made them. He was way beyond us all.”

Filmmakers will come and go, actors and directors will come and go, movies will come and go, but there are some names that will remain as long as there is cinema.

KB will remain always alive in us.

Suresh Krissna behind the lens for TV serial

imagesTitled ‘Arangetram‘, with acclaimed director Suresh Krissna behind the camera, the title song has Lyrics by Pa.Vijay with music from ‘Thenisai Thendral’ Deva. Actress Sivaranjani is set to play the role of Vijayalakshmi with Actor Shyam essaying the role of her husband. ‘Arangetram’ will begin airing in Puthuyugam from 26th May and is slotted for telecast Monday to Friday at 8 .00 pm.

The young and beautiful Vijayalakshmi who works in a well known Software company lives a free and happy life. Things seemed to get even better when she gets married to the man of her dreams. Just as she is about to begin her new life, something she never imagined happens. Her life goes upside down when she is sexually assaulted by four unknown men. She is left torn physically and emotionally.

In a society that blames the victim rather than the culprits, she is left without help. To bring the culprits to justice, to prove she has done nothing wrong to go through hell on earth, she takes things in her own hands. Vijayalakshmi turns a new leaf as a bold warrior, fighting for justice and making sure that no other woman has to go through this.

Sources timesofindia