Baashha is one of, if not the most iconic Tamil movie of all time. We’ve all watched it a bazillion times. We know every song and every line of dialogue. But how many of you are familiar with the behind the scenes stories of this movie?
Here are 5 fun facts you didn’t know about Baashha!
1. There would be no Baashha without Hum
In 1993, Suresh Krissna, the director of Baashha, got an idea for a MASS scene from a buddy of his who was at the time, working on the Hindi film Hum. The idea was initially pitched for the movie Hum but was rejected by its helmer, Mukul S. Anand. What’s the idea, you’re wondering? Well, Amitabh Bachchan would be alone with a police inspector in the inspector’s office. He would then say “My name is Shekhar. But I have another name.” After which we will cut to his brother looking on from the outside, wondering what’s being said inside. It is this unused idea that eventually grew into Baashha.
We all know the iconic scene. Manickam approaches the college dean who tells Manickam’s sister Geetha that she’ll only be given a seat in the college in exchange for sexual favours. Manickam tells his sister to wait outside. He puts his hands on the table, looks down at the dean and says, “My name is Manickam. But I have another name.” We then cut to Geetha’s perspective, as she wonders what her innocent brother is telling the man (the monologue is muted) causing him to sweat in fear. We’re left wondering too.
2. Baashha was supposed to happen sooner than 1995
In the first point, we talked about how Suresh Krissna’s friend shared with him an idea for a mass scene. Well, Suresh Krissna loved it so much that he immediately contacted Rajinikanth, eagerly wanting to expand the idea into a complete script and then shoot the movie. Rajinikanth loved the idea too, but he told Suresh Krissna to push that aside first. While we don’t have Rajini’s exact words to Suresh Krissna, in recent years, the director has mentioned in various interviews that Rajini told him this: “Our combo just shook the landscape of Indian cinema a couple of years ago. Let’s make a throwaway comedy next, simply to cleanse the audience’s palette and remove any and all expectations.”
This is where the silly, throwaway comedy Veera comes in. Rajinikanth also went on to make other films as well. Then in 1995, the pair reunited and blessed the world Baashha, which went on to forever change the landscape of Indian cinema.
3. Ra Ra Ramaiya almost wasn’t in the film
While Na Autokaaran is perhaps a catchier, more mainstream song, over the years, it is Ra Ra Ramaiya that has stood the test of time. It is a truly iconic piece of music. However, believe it or not, the song almost wasn’t in the movie. While shooting the second half of the movie — the flashback, where we see the fully realised BAASHHA — Suresh Krissna suddenly felt like there should be a song sequence for the Baashha character. But Rajinikanth brushed off the idea, saying something along the lines off, “It doesn’t make sense. It’s fine if Manickam sings and dances. But Baashha? Baashha is supposed to be a big don. It would be weird if he sings and dances.”
It’s a very fair point. But Suresh Krissna felt confident in his idea. So he spent every waking second convincing and annoying Rajinikanth about it. Eventually, Suresh Krissna came up with an idea. “What if it’s a birthday celebration?” he said. “What if, during the birthday celebration and the song sequence, there’s an assassination attempt.” Rajinikanth was finally swayed. Suresh Krissna immediately told lyricist/poet Vairamuthu to start working on the lyrics for a song. The rest, as they say, is history.
4. Raghuvaran initially declined the role
While Baashha is a Rajinikanth movie and he’s in the spotlight a vast majority of the time, the movie wouldn’t have been as good, without the equally iconic Mark Anthony played to perfection by Raghuvaran (RIP). The man is just dripping with charisma in every scene he’s in. But did you know, that Raghuvaran was initially adamant about starring in the movie? When approached by Suresh Krissna, Raghuvaran said it would be ridiculous to cast him in a mass movie opposite Rajinikanth as he’s incapable of doing fight sequences — it’s just not the kind of actor that he is. However, Suresh Krissna convinced him that his character would not be doing much fighting with Baashha, but instead, it will be a battle of the minds. Upon hearing this, Raghuvaran readily hopped onboard.
5. The producers said “hell no” to Rajini being tied and beaten up
It’s perhaps the second best scene in the movie, definitely the most emotionally exhausting one. Around the one hour mark, Rajini’s character Manickam gives himself up to the local gangster in an effort to protect his younger brother. The gangster ties Manickam to the pole and beats him to a pulp. It’s an important scene in the movie. Without it, the big moment where Baashha hits back wouldn’t have been as effective. Can you imagine the movie without that scene?
Initially, the producers of Baashha put their foot down and told Suresh Krissna that he isn’t allowed to shoot that scene. The producers were worried that fans around Tamil Nadu would riot and burn down the cinemas during that scene (at the time, Rajinikanth’s star power had reached heights never before seen in South Indian cinema). The producers were adamant, even after Suresh Krissna explicitly mentioned that there will be a sequence shortly after in which Baashha hits back. It was Rajinikanth himself who finally managed to convince the producers, saying that he would put his own money on the line if anything goes wrong. The producers agreed.