is a late response of a Tamil movie fan.

Reading this mail would be bit time consuming activity but definitely gives a picture about the kind of “shake to and fro “, matinee idol does with fan's heart. On the 55th anniversary of India's Independence, the major problems facing India are: 1. Corruption 2. Old people acting like teenagers 3. North Indian actors speaking Tamil This is the impression I got after watching the new Rajnikanth movie Baba, which was released on August 15th. Rajnikanth had not acted in a movie after the super-hit Padayappa and that was three years ago. As a result, Tamil Movie fans were forced to watch movies like Alavandhan, Hey Ram, Panchathanthiram, and Tenali. All these movies explored subtle nuances of the human psyche using character conflict resulting in some powerful human drama and their resolution required Kamal Haasan to kiss young actresses. So when Baba was released, we, Tamil movie fans were excited and became insane. 21-year-old Vijaya pawned his mother's jewellery to buy tickets on the first day. Another person, Mr. Parasuraman, requested the doctor to perform a cesarean operation so that his child's birth would coincide with the release of the film. One of the first things the baby did after coming out was to ask for a beedi, which the baby caught in his mouth after flinging it up in the air. I saw the movie on the first day itself here in the San Francisco Bay Area because I saw Chandni Bar the previous day and needed something strong to offset the depression. Chandni Bar is a hard-hitting look at the life of beer bar girls and their family. It is the kind of movie where the director's idea of humor is when a local goonda comes into Tabu's house and asks her uncle to stand up. When the uncle thinks of shaking hands with the visitor, the visitor stabs him many times to death. The story of Baba, penned by Rajnikanth himself, goes like this. Baba is a child born to a middleaged couple by the blessings of Babaji, a 2000-year-old Y2K-compliant saint living in the Himalayas. Baba grows up to be a young atheistic ruffian played by a middle-aged Rajnikanth with the help of industrial strength makeup. In the first half of the movie, he drinks, smokes and fights with the son of the Deputy Chief Minister, because the interval of the movie has been scheduled couple of days later. Even though Baba is a goonda at heart, in some issues he is very naive, like for example, love. He falls for his neighbor, Chamundeshwari, played by Manisha Koirala (not the body double) with the help of a dubbing artist. The dubbing is so perfect that Baba thinks she is a Tamilian. The fact that Manisha's mother's role is played by the Malayali actress, Seema, would have triggered the attention of any Intelligence Agency. A Malayali mother, a Tamilian father and a Nepali daughter; if this had happened in the United States, F-16s would be escorting Manisha's family to Guantanamo Bay. One day a beggar who is actually a saint comes to Baba and tells him that his fake beard is constantly falling off. So they both decide to go to see Babaji who is in the Himalayas. Baba follows him even though the beggar is Sayaji Shinde speaking Tamil. They enter a nearby tunnel in the mountains in order to reach the Himalayas but actually end up in Switzerland because the Indian Government denied them permission to shoot in Kashmir. According to the Government, various people from Pakistan were shooting there already without permission. The official policy was to deny permission to anyone who specifically asked for it. This is the answer to all those critics who have been saying that the Government is not doing anything in Kashmir.

In Switzerland, Baba meets Babaji, the 2000-year-old saint who gives him seven boons. Baba would have tried the boons immediately but for A.R. Rahman, who interrupted him saying, “I have composed these songs, many of them over the phone from London at unearthly hours.” So Rajni breaks off to sing a few songs with Manisha Koirala while the rest of the cast go back to apply more makeup, especially Goundamani who has to act as a teenaged cool dude. After verifying some of the boons (including a thrilling three-hour scene where a kite chases Rajni), Baba becomes a believer. Soon Baba had to face something very evil, something that no Tamil Hero had ever faced before -- Amrish Puri speaking Tamil. He was brought in by the evil Chief Minister, Bharat Dabholkar and his evil Deputy, Ashish Vidyarthi, both speaking Tamil to grab Baba's Divine Powers (elder brother of Austin Powers). But all these people were no match for Rajni. He delivered some dialogs with political overtones such as: “I will not forget the salt I have eaten of Tamil Nadu because it did not have iodine.” Sitting right behind me was a Rajni fan with a towel around his head, 'Baba' style. For each dialog Rajni uttered on the screen, he whistled with such force that often people had to collect his internal organs from various corners of the theater and return it to him. Seeing all these North Indians in a Tamil movie I was reminded of a Hindi play, which some students of my college performed during one of the college Youth Festivals. I studied in Kerala and the only Hindi that we were familiar with was the one spoken by the Krishi Darshan anchor. The play was set in Bombay. A bunch of strangers are playing cards. They introduce themselves and find that all of them are from Kerala. So one of them suggests that they all speak in Malayalam instead of struggling with Hindi. For the rest of the Hindi play, they spoke in Malayalam. The judges of the play were last seen standing in front of an oncoming train. Similarly, I thought Rajni would suggest that they all speak in Marathi. Instead he decided to renounce the world and become a sanyasi. But as Baba along with his sanyasi mates were going back to Switzerland, the person he had chosen as the Chief Minister gets shot. At that point people expected that he would turn around. But he did not. He turned back after 30 seconds because the camera was not set in slow-motion mode. The End. At this point I was willing to see Chandni Bar again. To the usual ingredients in a Rajni movie, like style, political punch lines, the much-expected introductory song, coriander and MTR sambar powder, the filmmakers tried to add some spirituality and it was not well cooked. If you are cooking spirituality, you are supposed to wait for three whistles in the pressure cooker according to an old jungle saying. The story and screenplay of the film was by Rajnikanth himself. Director Suresh Krissna in an interview said that, “When he narrated the story to me, I was amazed by his vision and clarity.” The media thought that Suresh Krissna was referring to the story of the film, but it turned out that he was talking about Rajni's contact lenses. In Tiruchirapalli, an unruly mob ransacked the theater and ran away with the film rolls. The mob also damaged a special screen erected for the release of the film at the Sri Ranga theater at Jayamkondam and burnt giant cut-outs of the matinee idol. This was their way of saying, “We saw this movie and lost our money, so please don't watch it.” A 24-year-old woman committed suicide allegedly dejected with her husband for not taking her to Baba at the suburban Korattur area. She reportedly rushed to the kitchen and set herself ablaze after dousing herself with kerosene. She died of severe burn injuries at a hospital, police said. This is a story which can be made into a movie with Nandita Das playing the role of the woman, Raghubir Yadav as her husband, and Bobby Deol as the can of Kerosene. If she had seen the movie, she still would have committed suicide.

But at the end of the movie, when Baba turns back to face the people in slow motion, the words that came up on the screen sent a chill down my spine right into my Muladhara Chakra causing my Kundalini energy to rise up. The words read: “To be Continued.” If anyone knows the location of that tunnel to Switzerland, let me know. I plan to go there to meet Babaji and ask for just one boon, “In the next movie, give us the Padayappa Rajni back.”

"A well-wisher of Tamilnadu"