Oh, how much Eega speaks to the skeptics. A Telugu film with a freaking bug
as its hero? With a Kannada
actor, as the anti-hero, occupying as much screen-time as the fly? A Telugu
film without a single star to speak of? A Telugu
film which centres around a tragedy (anyone who's not living under a rock knows the hero dies, which is what the fly incarnation is all about)?
Fans (from what we gather, they pack as mean a punch as any other self-respecting fan club) of S S Rajamouli have something to gloat about now - Eega actually transcends most things that go against it, and much credit goes to the man at the helm.
Turning a filthy insect into a protagonist you laugh and cry with, Eega is a rollicking entertainer movie that also accomplishes something else - pushes the boundaries of the Telugu film industry's imagination. Which, as many will agree, is not a very big step, and ironically is.
And that is why Eega, should it succeed, is a mighty vindication of the triumph of the underdog. There cannot be a more powerful David vs Goliath story than Eega, the film. We're not referring to merely the story about a little bug getting the better of a mighty villain. As a product, the only gimmick the film resorts to it its concept, relying for its cast (except for Samantha and Nani) on faces that we've usually seen in the sidelines (except for Sudeep, who we Telugus only ever saw in a damp RGV squib 2 years ago
We repeat - this is the kind of movie in which a Taagubothu Ramesh, who is around for barely a few minutes, gets the kind of hurrahs that are usually reserved for a Brahmanandam.
The fairy tale is pretty well-known by know. Nani (Nani), who is in love with Bindu (Samantha), was finished off by the villain Sudeep (Sudeep - in a superlatively awesome performance), who hankers after her as well. Sudeep is a billionaire-playboy (yes, almost Tony Stark
, but without the suit of metal and the heart of gold) who now slowly attempts to ensnare the innocent Bindu. Only, there's a fly in his life, seeking revenge.
For the first quarter or so of the film, it's a sweet romance being set up, very Disney-like. There's a pretty girl being wooed by a goofy suitor, with a cackling evil prince looming in the background, and a goose-pimply music score lending body to the love story. It is a tale well-told, but it all only serves to make you restless for the real deal.
Which is worth the wait. When the fly breaks open into the world, the director has some fun, taking the bug through a park and into kids' games - with as much enthusiasm as a child reciting a poem she has just learnt.
He needn't have.
Because Eega's action sequences are sensational, in terms of their conceptualization. The animation is good, but it is merely a platform for the stunning vision behind them. Check out the scene in which a pair of dangerous-looking birds, while chasing Eega, fly through objects and get stuck in telephone cords, and you'll know what we're talking about. Also, the director generally uses his creative liberty pretty well, even fitting the bug with a helmet and getting it to work-out in its own gym.
Much effort has gone into defining the emotions of the characters, two-dimensional fairy-tale spinoffs as they are, and making them all someone you root for. So much so that the evil Sudeep is actually enjoyable to be around, just because his helplessness and vulnerability touch a chord with you.
Eega is not without its flaws. The pace slackens in the second half, and the bit with the tantrik was a little avoidable. Plus, the violence can get slightly graphic in one or two places - not a good sign for a movie that has potential with families). And yes, maybe you shouldn't compare the movie with standards and genres that are out of our context.
While Nani is around only for about 20 minutes, Rajamouli has an incredible amount of fun with Sudeep, who is all over the frame. Sudeep's villain is a man frustrated and maddened by his everyday battles with the pinhead-sized household pest, and the actor portrays a range of emotions rarely seen before in our on-screen baddies. It's a role that we're used to seeing Prakash Raj in; and yet, watching a fresh face, who's also younger and great to look at, play it is a pleasure.
Samantha looks good and wears nice kurtis, but has a limited range of expressions to work with. She's pleasant, though.
The music is an asset to the movie as well. Nene Naaneene, of course, is a beautiful number, and Ga Ee Ga Ee comes in at the right time.
Overall, Eega is a charming movie that deserves a watch, both for its style and its substance. More important, of course, is how Rajamouli has changed the way we look at flies.