Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Eega (2012)

Loveable goofball Nani (Nani) has had a consensual stalking relationship with charity NGO lady and hobby micro artist Bindhu (Samantha Ruth Prabhu) for about two years now. Just when Bindhu finally takes pity on Nani and a more mainstream romance is in the air, disaster strikes.

Business man/gangster boss Sudeep (Sudeep) takes himself to be absolutely irresistible to women, so when he sets eyes on Bindhu, he is quite convinced it's only a question of using his invisible charm on her to get her into his bed. Consequently, when Sudeep realizes that Bindhu is actually very much in love with Nani and couldn't care less about some sleazy clown in a suit, he does the only thing a man of his ego can do when thwarted in love: he murders what he thinks of as his rival, hoping to use Bindhu's mourning phase to slime himself into her heart.

Before anything horrible can happen in that regard, though, Nani is reborn as a rather tiny fly. Nani quickly stumbles upon Sudeep and remembers what the sleaze-bag did to Nani's former life and his love for Bindhu, and mutely (flies can't speak and the film doesn't go the expected route of having Nani speak his thoughts via an off-screen monologue) swears to kill Sudeep. But what can a fly achieve against a man?

Turns out a fly can achieve a lot if it applies itself appropriately. Nani begins an epic campaign of driving Sudeep mad, while his foe takes increasingly desperate and ridiculous counter-measures. At one point Nani discloses his flydentity to Bindhu, who proceeds to quite gleefully support him in his murder plan, building him goggles against insect spray and even tiny weapons, and helping him get in shape in a fly training montage. Still, Sudeep is such a gigantic jerk, he's not going to make things easy for the inter-species couple (still legal in Germany!).

The most loveable element among many loveable elements in S.S. Rajamouli's Telugu film Eega is that the film does not simply coast on the utter craziness of its set-up. Unexpectedly (if we can pretend not to have read the completely deserved amount of praise the film got from movie writers far and wide), Eega takes its crazy high concept and then proceeds to think it through quite rigorously, producing a film that is still plenty crazy and often very funnily undermining revenge cinema standards (because machismo automatically becomes funny when it is applied to a fly), but which never takes the lazy way out when it comes to creating its narrative and world.

Eega is also a perfectly paced movie, spending just the right amount of time on its charming yet standard Indian cinema beginning that ends in death at the point where most films of the country (quite independent of which of the local movie centres they come from) would have had some whacky plot twist to keep its lovers apart for just a little - or two hours - longer. After that, it's, as they say, all thriller, no filler, with one imaginative, absurd, and - dare I say it? - even moving scene coming directly after the other.

A large part of the film's sizeable charm lies in the ability of its main actors. Sudeep and Samantha Ruth Prabhu both are able to continuously change track from the humorous to the (melo)dramatic and back again without it ever looking like they need to make an effort, while also staying despicably sleazy, or intensely adorable, respectively.

Turning the core duo into a trio is the CGI fly Nani (I have to admit human Nani didn't make much of an impression on me one way or the other), and he's as expressive, changeable and silly an actor as his human co-stars. I never thought I'd root for an insect in a movie, but how could I resist a CGI fly that goes through as rigorous a training regime as this one does, and has an air battle against possessed sparrows? Oh, didn't I mention the possessed sparrows? They are awesome.

Speaking of the CGI, Eega opts for digital effects that leave behind attempts to look realistic for character:  Nani-fly looks more like a character created for a Pixar movie than an attempt to design a digital fly, a decision that may snub the part of the film's audience that insists on realism in its films about goggle-wearing super-flies, but leaves the rest of us with a hero full of charm and personality.

I could now gush for a few thousand words about Eega's best moments (like the scene where Sudeep discusses the possibility of avenging animals with his henchmen who know that stuff from the movies, or the one where…), but that seems rather like explaining a joke instead of telling it, so I'll end here with one of those mainstream movie critic kickers. How about "Go out and watch it!"?

No comments: