Over 15 years after its farewell to television, Baywatch returns in all its slow motion glory to the big screen. The movie based on the series, starring Dwayne Johnson, Zac Efron and Priyanka Chopra, will be released in India on June 2. Seth Gordon’s movie rekindles memories of the small-screen lifeguards, who were instantly recognisable by their sculpted bodies, impeccable hair, fiery red swimsuits, and suggestive CPR procedures. The sun-soaked drama remains a pop culture phenomenon, widely popular in the United States of America as well as in India.

Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron in Baywatch.

Created by Michael Berk, Douglas Schwartz and Gregory J Bonann, Baywatch was premiered on the NBC network in 1989. David Hasselhoff starred as head lifeguard Mitch Buchannon, alongside Parker Stevenson as Craig Pomeroy and Shawn Weatherly as Jill Riley. The show gained iconic status in the 1990s not only in the US, but in 148 other countries, including India, Kenya and Malaysia. The show went on for 11 seasons, including the spin-offs Baywatch Nights and Baywatch Hawaii, before coming to an end in 2001.

After seasonal ratings placed the show 74th out of 111 other shows at the time, NBC halted the series. But the showrunners had other plans. They decided to take the syndication route and divided broadcast rights to multiple stations instead of a single network. Some cast members stayed on, while new characters, such as Pamela Anderson’s CJ Parker and Yasmine Bleeth’s Caroline Holden, were introduced.

Baywatch Season 1 opening theme.

The slow motion sprints might be indelibly associated with Baywatch, but they have triggered their fair share of parodies. Son of the Beach (2000) is one such satire. Replete with double entendres and sexual innuendos, the show is led by an ageing pot-bellied lifeguard Notch Johnson, who is based on Hasselhoff’s Mitch.

Son of the Beach.

The feature film adaptation retains the main characters from the original, but is an all-out comedy. In Baywatch the movie, Mitch Buchanan (Johnson) and the brazen new recruit Matt Brody (played by David Charvet in the original and Efron in the film) come together to save the bay from a local conspirator. Priyanka Chopra makes her Hollywood debut as the villainous Victoria Leeds.

Priyanka Chopra in Baywatch.

The movie has been cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification with an A rating along with verbal cuts, according to a report by the DNA newspaper. The bikini shots have been untouched.

The R-rated reboot that was released on May 25 in the US has sunk at the box office and been slammed by critics. Even Hasselhoff wasn’t impressed. “It’s funny, it’s pushing the envelope, but it’s not Baywatch – and I say that with a great amount of respect but a great amount of work that I put into Baywatch,” he told Mirror Online.

Indian audiences, at least there is Priyanka Chopra.