Baba back on Rajini’s birthday — Hit or miss?

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A little over two decades since its first release, Rajinikanth’s Baba comes calling at cinemas in a relatively new avatar, refurbished and reinvigorated

Baba’s comeback has set off expectations that the 2002 box office dud will rise up from the dead like a phoenix on December 12, Superstar Rajinikanth’s birthday

Baba’s new avatar comes at a time when Hindutva-hued films are major hits, like Kantara and Ponniyin Selvan, which dwell on Hindu spirituality or culture

Similarly, Brahmastra too has resonated with the audience. The forthcoming Telugu film Hanuman, likewise, has oodles of pre-release hype about its Hindutva core

This is not the first time a film has been re-released. Rajini’s Baasha, Sivaji Ganesan’s Karnan and the 1980s’ rage My Dear Kuttichathan had new avatars

But those films were big box-office hits originally, unlike Baba which did not entertain Rajini fans or make profits for its producers and distributors the first time

Baba originally released on August 15, 2002. When it dashed expectations of a mega hit, Rajini is said to have compensated the distributors for their losses

Like Baba, another of Rajini’s spiritually-themed films also become a big dud even though it was released as his 100th film with huge fanfare

Rajini donned the garb of saint Sri Raghavendra in his 100th film produced by K Balachander’s Kavithalaya and directed by his favourite director S P Muthuraman

But fans want their hero stylishly snapping fingers, running his fingers through his dishevelled hair, thrashing villains, and performing showy tricks with cigarettes

So, when they were treated to a Rajini exuding spiritual tranquillity, as a calm and composed ascetic, Raghavendra, no wonder, became a great letdown for them

Baba was based on a story written by Rajinikanth himself. The dialogue was penned by noted Tamil writer S Ramakrishnan jointly with Gopu-Babu

Unlike Raghavendra, Baba featured Rajini at his usual best in macho gimmicks and magical dialogue delivery. And yet it did not strike a chord with fans.

Baba was so devastating that Rajini cooled his heels for over two years until P Vasu came along and restored his mass appeal with Chandramukhi in 2005

Now the same Baba is being dusted off with deletions and additions to tone up the film’s quality. Will it just be an encore of its failure or hit the bull’s eye this time?