Eega, A Brilliant Exception To The South Indian Pot Boilers
By Meena Yeggina
It’s been a while since I’ve seen a Telugu movie, although not because I hate my native tongue or because I don’t enjoy Telugu films. I do. A good Telugu movie always brings my spirits up. However, Telugu movies (for that matter any movie) with ribald humor, sexual innuendo and biased treatment of women not only revolts me but saddens me immensely. I can tolerate, even laugh with a senseless movie but cannot stand a politically incorrect movie. When a talented musician like Devi Sri Prasad takes pride in a song like “A Ante Amalapuram” and a talented director such as Rajamouli has to take shelter in item songs to run his movie (except Maryada Ramanna), then something is wrong with Andhra psyche. Some critics blame South Indian influence on North India to ruin the intellectual genre of North Indian films with senseless pot-boilers. I feel insulted but when I see any random Telugu movie, it hurts me more both as a human being, woman, and mother of a teenage daughter. The sycophancy, the utter caste/sexist/vulgar nature of the tasteless films, and worse, the notion of doing all this in the name of heroism is sickening.
It is a statistical fact that the number of rapes in India have increased directly to the proportion of the increase in item songs. According to a study in Hyderabad done by the Sociology Department of the Central University, rapes increase immediately after the release of any new film (Hindi or Telugu) with a hot or item song as they call it. Entertainment does not stop in theatres but extends to streets. Gang rapes and abductions are on the rise and these item songs add to the rate. It’s true that 80 percent of Andhra women stopped going to the theatres. Hits, as they call them, are mainly endorsed by men. Yes, these are probably 100 crore films, but both audiences and producers have a moral responsibility both to their family, in particular, and society in general. As writers and journalists we are supposed to research every fact. Doesn’t one as a producer/director who has so much visual influence on its audience have to do this as well? But again, sadly, demand does fuel supply and vice versa..
I am sorry, I diverted (a lot). But my point of this staggering introduction is this: After seeing Eega, my spirits and hopes for the quality Telugu movies has come back, albeit a little. Rajamouli’s films are in general, lusty, filled with sexual innuendo but have been definitely different in treatment of them. Eega is definitely an exception to his “general masala with a difference” rule. After his Maryada Ramanna, Eega is another such beautifully narrated movie. Very cleverly and early on, the director establishes the fact that this is merely a story told by a father to his young daughter to get her some sleep. With this he takes some extraordinary creative liberties as a director (Flies dont come out of eggs but from live maggots to pupa and it takes 7-10 days to become full fledged flies; A fly writing in the English language with such mental alacrity is impossible as is a fly gaining muscle with exercise plotting and planning to take revenge on his enemy, etc.). But if Simba can do so much in The Lion King so can our very own desi Eega! And what a cute one too!
The story of Nani and the Eega are so endearing that you cannot stop a wide smile spreading warmly on your face whenever either of them enter. Nani with his sweet love for his Bindu stole the show in the first 20 minutes. HIs perseverance and undemanding love finally captures the heart of Bindu, a micro artist who after two years finally gets ready to accept his love. The tender love scenes between these two are fresh and very heart-warming.
Enters Sudhir, a lusty, mean and self-centered man who falls head on for Bindu. But realizing that she likes Nani, he kills him, just like that. Our Nani’s soul or life source creeps into a fly (the birth of which was depicted incorrectly, as stated previously) immediately. I dont understand why Rajamouli purposefully ignored the facts surrounding the birth of fly or not. When he even details us the 4000 lenses in the fly’s eye sometimes, why such an easily available fact about birth is missed by him is a mystery to me. I am not sure but this is definitely a misrepresentation of fact but for some reason could have been deliberate.
From here on the story turns and twists and becomes a revenge story with an expected yet satisfactory climax.
I liked this movie. It’s fast paced and tightly delivered. The transition from real life footage to animation is so smooth that you would hardly notice it. The technology used is world class. Also, the story and treatment are fresh. In Maryada Ramanna Rajamouli proved that he can use any man and make him a hero and with Eega he establishes that if a story is told well, even a fly can become a hero.
You just can’t help being swept away with Eega’s emotions: his sorrow, his anger, his frustration, and his amusing body language all come across very well. I especially enjoyed how he rubs his feet in glee or gets ready for combat. My daughter can never stop singing the song “eega, eega, eega,” the heroic theme song which played during Nani’s several conquests as the Eega. And oh my gosh how can I forget the compelling “thief.” He deserves such a special mention. His rehabilitation program through love is simply superb. I think these scenes with the sweet donga are the highlight of the film. Clean, healthy, and real humor with no ribald jokes on obesity, homosexuality, casteism, sex, religion or region. Reminds you of you Hrishikesh Mukherji’s clean comedy. However Eega is much richer in its comic sense and technological creativity. Performance wise all of them did good but Sudeep just ruled the roost. He is just too versatile. And of course the dear little Eega. Samantha did great too for a Telugu film. Nani is good for the first twenty minutes of the film and I am glad Rajamouli did not keep embedding his face on the Eega now and then just to remind us of him. Another small uncomfortable fact: a fly dies within 20 days. So if Nani is coming back as an Eega, he has to die every 20 days. This, again, is impossible but well, we love to have him back, at least in our fiction.
Overall, Eega is a brilliant film to watch with your family and you will be exhilarated. His exercises to empower himself to face his enemy are extremely endearing. Overall, Eega, as it indulges in victory dances giving free rein to its emotions expressing through postures and its thin arms to convey its feelings without uttering a word, will surely remains a hero in every watcher’s heart.