This post is an invitation to all who read this, regardless of your familiarity with Telugu or Tamil, the two languages in which the film is released, to go and watch S.S. Rajamouli's new Telugu movie Eega / Naan Ee. This animation aided fantasy has everything going for it to become a national phenomenon. It is the story of how a fly takes revenge. Do not be surprised if midway through the film you find yourself clapping and cheering – for a fly.
I have seen only one of director Rajamouli’s earlier films, Magadheera, and I am puzzled to date why that didn’t turn into a national phenomenon. I hardly speak any Telugu, and I understand less of it than a preschooler does. Further, though I had been waiting for this film impatiently, the fact that I have not watched any of Rajamouli’s other films (and I know that they are not only contemporary cinematic landmarks but also pack in a massive social punch) should give readers a sense of my objectivity.
A quick look at my understanding of the story of the film before I start lisping, stuttering and drooling. Boy loves girl who does micro art and social work. Girl plays appropriately hard to get. Big bad business tycoon sees girl and has to have her. He tries to win her over with money for her social work. In the meantime, boy’s attempts to win girl seem to be paying off. Big bad business tycoon notices and gets really mad. Girl finally acknowledges her feelings just as big bad tycoon decides to kill boy for being a hurdle in his path. Boy dies. He is reborn as a fly. He takes revenge with the help of girl. More or less end of story.
Now on to the film. Make sure you are in early so that you get the context of the story and the context of the closing titles at the end of the film. They rock. The first part of the film is a standard love story with a villain thrown in. Though I was aware of what the movie was all about, the turn it took from the death of the boy who becomes Eega (fly) in his next reincarnation left me gasping for breath. First off, the computer generated imagery and the visual effects are world class and blend in seamlessly with the real life characters, shots and scenes. The innovative David-Goliath storyline and the familiarity of the setting (who has not been annoyed “to death” by a persistent buzzing fly!) break the mental barrier that one has about an animated character interfacing with real life characters.
The screenplay is the second reason that I strongly recommend this film. It is not like the animation is better than anything you might have seen elsewhere, but it is the script that draws you so relentlessly into the story that you do not have time to reflect on the fact that you are watching an animated fantasy. From the very moment that the animated fly comes into being, the film is a roller coaster of innovation and humor. The fly has no dialog but comes into being as the protagonist without effort, and the script makes you a participant as you actively start listening to the dialog that doesn’t exist. In addition, the opening sequence and the burglar sequence halfway into the film are neatly brought to a closure at the end of the film. There is action and there is a bit of gore, but it doesn’t intrude and you actually enjoy it since it is the victory of the fly that you are celebrating. The film sticks to the formula action thriller format even at the cost of being just a little too long, and yes, the end of the story is a little wanting. But these are very minor blips in an otherwise superb production.
The humor is brilliantly balanced between the cerebral and the slapstick. The filmmaker tips the hat to many great moments from south Indian cinema, through dialogs, incidental clips, and music. The acting is great, especially when you consider that they were filming it with the most important character, the fly, not being really present. Sudeep, the villain, and Samantha, the girl whose boyfriend became a fly, work wonders, bringing the animated Eega to life with their realistic portrayals. Nani plays his namesake Nani, the fly in his previous incarnation, and is refreshingly real and charming. The supporting cast does what it is meant to do, and leaves the three main characters free to tell their story. M.M. Keeravani’s music is subtle and enhances the magic of the Eega character.
The third and perhaps the most important reason that this film should be seen by all is the unusual telling of an oft-repeated story. It is the story of the underdog, a small, helpless and insignificant individual who is seeking something that lies halfway between vengeance and justice. Most of us will easily be able to identify with this situation. How the fly manages to triumph against the mighty Sudeep’s high tech attempts to prevent him from achieving his goal will have you nodding your head to yourself. Even the vengeance angle becomes an ethical compulsion as you start identifying with Eega. When the film reaches its intermission with Eega writing out “I will kill you” on Sudeep’s windshield, you can actually feel the auditorium going, “Go, get the bugger, we are with you.”
To say anything more would end up diluting your viewing pleasure, and there are more than just a few clappable moments in the film, along with some amazing special effects. The scene with the glass shards and Eega flying at Sudeep is a masterpiece. Here is a film where two unlikely aspects of a superhero have worked a miracle together – first, it is an animated character, and second, it is a puny fly. It is a film that closely mirrors the state of the world today, with an arrogant system convinced that the individual is incapable of harming it in any way. It is a film about the ultimate victory of good and love over the powerful evil.
Go watch Eega. It is a beautiful and uplifting experience that will restore your faith in love and goodness.
Here is a glimpse of what is in store - the official movie trailer.