That is essentially what all superheroes stand for. But in terms of a narrative you need a strong emotional core. The greatest of superhero movies have proved that. If Spiderman was born out of the death of Peter Parker’s uncle, the very premise of Batman is the increasing crime rate in Gotham City that takes the lives of Bruce Wayne’s parents. When director Nikhil Mahajan offered me Baji, I was surprised because I am not the most physically attractive actors around, a feature you inadvertently associate with a larger-than-life superhero. I never sported a six-pack, but have concentrated on character-oriented performances instead. But then I thought, why not?
We just announced the film this Tuesday. Baji will be my first Marathi film after seven years and Amruta Khanvilkar plays my love interest. What fascinated me was that this superhero was quintessentially Indian. I was blown away by just the one-line idea that Nikhil had mailed me. Baji is made of Marathi mitti. He is from a village straight out of folklore. It is more along the lines of, say, Phantom or Zorro than the other western superheroes we are familiar with, who protect us from oppression. The dressing for Baji’s character is a mix of modern and traditional — no matter what kind of contemporary clothing he is in, there will always be the Marathi feta on his head, along with his sword, bow-arrow and white stallion.
The director and I consciously decided not to use special effects because technologically we can’t match Hollywood standards. Baji can’t fly, but we will make it up in the emotional department. There is romance, along with action of a very raw kind. The intention is to create a superhero from our land who every one of us can connect to.
We start shooting for Baji in the first week of February in the Konkan region and other parts of Mumbai.