Last year, S. S. Rajamoul’s enthusiastically maximalist Tollywood action epic RRR made a huge splash. If there is any justice in this world, this will lead to more people checking out his absolutely bonkers 2012 film Eega. I have not had this kind of cinematic experience since Split Second.
Eega positions itself as a bedtime story told to a child who demands novelty, and novelty is certainly what she gets. Once upon a time ….
Bindu (Samantha) works for a charitable organization and devotes her off-hours to making miniature works of art and avoiding the non-stop attention of men. For a long time, her most persistent suitor is her neighbor Nani (Nani), an affable stalker who refuses to take a hint. In this movie, that quality turns out to be a virtue. Bindu does come to love Nani in return–a quality Samantha does not really convey convincingly–but this plot development, alas, attracts the ire of the wealthy, prominent Sudeep (Sudeepa). Sudeep is technically a legitimate businessman, but he has the aura of a crime lord–which is to say that he’s as ruthlessly amoral as most CEOs but, you know, sexier and more openly attached to murder as a problem-solving strategy. Sudeep falls for Bindu, and when he finds he can’t command her complete attention and adoration, he flies into a jealous rage. It’s time, he decides, to eliminate his rival, and he accordingly kills Nani in a scene that Quentin Tarantino would rule out as too obviously infused with a foot fetish.
Luckily, Nani’s soul–which looks like a little like starlight and old Capri Sun commercials–immediately reincarnates as a housefly. Fly-Nani then begins a mission of revenge.*
And then we just … watch about an hour and a half of a villain being tormented by a fly. Despite having no dialogue and being composed of mid-tier CGI, Nani the fly is remarkably expressive and, all in all, a rather adorable action hero whose determination shines through. He even reunites with Bindu! More importantly, he writes I WILL KILL YOU on Sudeep’s windshield, almost causes a Final Destination-style death, gets custom-made goggles and tiny fly weaponry (the benefits of having a human girlfriend with a fondness for miniatures), engages in industrial sabotage, gets his own musical number, and does a victory dance.
It is impossible to overstate how much this movie commits to its tiny fly hero. Above all else, Eega is an ode to thoroughness. If you came here for a movie about a man vs. an aggrieved sentient fly, you’d better believe you’re going to get absolutely everything you could possibly get from that premise. And then some. (Even pathos!) It’s absurdity leveled up to the near-sublime. Everything pre-fly reincarnation is disposable, everything afterwards is jaw-dropping. If you can only watch one revenge fantasy starring a fly, make it this one. Please.
* Clearly the fly in Breaking Bad was reincarnated Gale.
Eega is streaming on Netflix.