August 15, 2002 
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And you wonder why Rajni is a star?
Watch Baba to know how a movie will run purely on style

Ganesh Nadar

South Indian superstar Rajnikanth deserves a Nobel Prize, if not for literature, then for imagination in his latest film, Baba.

The story takes you from a railway station in Mumbai to the lanes of Chennai, right up to the Himalayas. Rajni displays a fascination for the railway station in this film.

An ageing Rajni is paired opposite an ageing Manisha Koirala. And as the film progresses, she adds on the kilos until she attained generous proportions. The audience, for their part, loved her.

The film has cameo appearances of established actors: Prabhu Deva, Nasser and Ramya Krishnan, to name a few. In his earlier movie Padayappa, Ramya Krishnan plays villain. Here, she appears in a shot to tell Nasser that Rajnikanth looks like Padayappa. Sharad Babu (who acts in most Rajni films) and Radharavi add to the list of guest stars.

Rajni seems to be dissatisfied with the local villains and, therefore, introduces Hindi actor Amrish Puri in the last two reels to add to the villainy. Sadly, it falls flat.

Comedian Goundamani has been given a lot of dialogue, which is unusual as Rajni likes to mouth most of the dialogues himself.

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Each song in the film has been choreographed by different people and the dividends are for all to see. In one song, Rajni dances like ace dancer Prabhu Deva. He tries his best, but fails. Prabhu Deva, who choreographed the number, would do better to make Rajni dance like Rajni and not like himself.

The songs are quite good, if you avoid looking at Rajni trying to dance. Performance-wise, Rajni is good. His dialogue delivery is excellent and his mannerisms, which have won him the huge fan following, continues to enthrall. Can you walk like Rajni? Talk like Rajni? Smoke like Rajni? Drink like Rajni? Fight like Rajni? You cannot. Rajni has his own style.

And Baba is meant for fans who like his style. The film will run on style alone.

Like every other Rajni starrer, this film has a clear political message, too. The film shows Rajni bashing up the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister. And the dialogue, uttered in all his films, is here too: 'Don't fall at my feet. You know I don't like people falling at my feet. We don't have to become the Chief Minister to do good. We can help by being good men and the CM will do good.'

In the end, he comes on strong with, 'I will not forget the salt I have eaten of Tamil Nadu. I will not run away. I will be with you always. I will not ignore the call of the times.' A hint So we are left wondering when time will call him to the post of Chief Minister.

A dialogue which hasn't invoked the ire of the actor-turned-politician M G Ramachandran [MGR] fans is, 'Even our Puratchi Thalaivar [revolutionary leader] was cheated,' where Rajni hints at MGR while watching the old Tamil film Alibaba And The 40 Thieves on television, starring MGR himself.

M N Nambiar, Sujatha, Vijaykumar are the other veterans in the film.

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