July 6, 2012
Sudeep, Samantha, Nani
If you look at Eega at a very superficial level, you may consider it just a fun and light-hearted special effects-driven fantasy. But there’s more to it than just that! S.S. Rajamouli’s film about a man reborn as a fly to take revenge on his murderer is funny, has a completely unusual concept, is a reminder to all of us that height is not might, and the special effects are path-breaking for Indian cinema (with a fraction of the budget of the average Hollywood film, I assume).
Eega takes us through the story of Nani who loves Bindu and is murdered by businessman Sudeep who in turn lusts after the pretty girl. Nani returns as a housefly on a mission to protect his sweetheart while also determined to murder Sudeep. How can a teeny insect achieve that? For the answer, let’s refer to the lyrics of one of the film’s many foot-tapping songs: “Can’t a tiny spark too small to be seen, unleash an inferno that could burn down a forest?”
Acting in a film of this genre comes with its limitations. Samantha is sweet looking and acquits herself reasonably well. Nani barely gets any screen time but for what it’s worth, he’s good too. Kannada star Sudeep, however, dominates the proceedings from start to finish and though he could have over-acted the part of the bad guy, he does not. So he is a lecherous, arrogant, murderous, paranoid and cowering fellow by turns, and looks admirably convincing through all his battles with a computer-generated fly! Of course it doesn’t hurt that he’s such a good-looking man.
The focal point of Eega (meaning “fly”) is the manner in which an insect defeats a strapping human being who has crores of cash, scores of employees and a palatial house at his disposal. Have you ever had a fly buzzing in your ear? Can you imagine a fly flying into your eye? Do you realise how easy it would be to keep a tiger out of a building in comparison with the humble housefly? Think about all these questions and you will know that in the battle of the wise, size is irrelevant. The eega’s ingenuity in this film is amusing and eye-opening. Where the film falters though is when it moves away from the size-does-not-matter premise by showing the eega building up its muscles and managing to pick up needles with its minuscule ‘arms’. Silly, no? Fortunately there’s not much of that happening … fortunate, because it’s not half as entertaining as watching the little creature use its brains to outwit its able-bodied human foe.
Besides, the eega in the film is a product of top-notch special effects. He does not look 100% like a real-life fly, but since humour is the selling point of this film in which an insect dances, that does not matter. It matters even less because he’s quite a handsome chap, this CG version of a bug with eyes an attractive shade of red! The film scores on the comedy and action front. What I missed though was the poignancy that could have been better achieved in the Bindu-Nani romance after the boy’s death … You know the way Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze made us weep playing the leads in Ghost? Eega manages to tug at the heart only occasionally, like when the eega first communicates with his human girlfriend in sign language, but I wish I wish I wish there was more where that came from! I suspect that the reason for this failing is that I couldn’t relate to the Bindu-Nani romance before his death. I mean, she’s supposed to be in love with him but doesn’t give him a single hint for two whole years?! Not only did that hark back to the old days when our films made a huge deal of pyaar ka izhaar karna, it was also highly unconvincing considering that Bindu otherwise comes across as a straight-talking girl, neither old-fashioned nor the sort to play games.
In the overall analysis though, Eega is a thoroughly enjoyable film that breaks new ground for special-effects driven Indian cinema. Way to go, Mr Rajamouli!
Rating (out of five): ***1/2
Footnote: Happily for film buffs like me, Eega has been released in Delhi NCR (my home city) with English subtitles. A big salaam to the producers for having the business sense to do so, in a country where our film industries have yet to get their act together on this front while Hollywood has wisely made it standard practice to release dubbed Hindi, Tamil and Telugu versions of their films in India. Personally, I prefer subtitles to dubbed films. Not everyone shares my tastes though, so I do wish all our Indian film industries would get active with both dubbing and subtitling. Right now, it’s possible they may only draw a niche audience of dedicated film buffs, but over a period of time I bet they will create a market among non-traditional audiences too. Unfortunately, we are far far from that stage. Even subtitling rarely happens! So again, a big salaam to the producers of Eega!
Censor rating: U/A
Running time: 138 minutes
Photograph courtesy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eega