SS Rajamouli retrospective: Eega – a housefly’s fascinating revenge

Seriously, how much damage can a housefly do to a strong adult man? A lot. Eega can be termed the perfect movie in SS Rajamouli’s career. It won’t be even wrong to say Rajamouli’s storytelling ability was formed fully while making this film. His career could be divided into before Eega and after Eega. Rajamouli was already a success story when he made Eega, as he had gained the reputation of a director who can’t give a flop. He made movies to suit the sensibilities of the fans of Telugu cinema till Eega. With the Nani, Samantha Ruth Prabhu and Sudeep-starrer, Rajamouli truly took his first step towards transcending boundaries and various other barriers.

Eega is a retelling of the classic David and Goliath story. The hero in this film is outmatched by the villain not just in size but in all conceivable aspects. Because the hero is a housefly and the villain is Sudeep (played by Sudeep), towering over 6 feet in height. Sudeep is a megalomaniac with a grandiose self-image. He believes that he can make any woman under the sun fall in love with him with little effort. And the very existence of his being gets a rude shock when he finds out Bindu’s (Samantha) cheeks turn pink in excitement when she looks at Nani (played by Nani).

When this happens, Sudeep’s ego gets a reality check on multiple levels. He’s hurt that Bindu prefers an average joe over him. It hurts, even more, when he realises that his manliness is outdone by a simple, happy-go-lucky, not to mention broken, average joe. And yes, he snaps and how.

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Sudeep strangles Nani with his bare feet because he wants to “feel your life slip away.” If anybody could perform that line better than Sudeep, it could only be Shah Rukh Khan. After his death, Nani is reincarnated as a housefly. And for the next few minutes, SS Rajamouli gives us an idea of how the world might look through the eyes of a housefly. And Nani soon learns about his past life and gets into the business of saving Bindu, which means Operation “Kill Sudeep” is a go.

The scene in which Sudeep kills Nani is one of the best performances of Sudeep’s career. He simply becomes a force of evil, which is raw and refreshingly novel. Sudeep’s character invokes a strong sense of fear in the audience, especially those who have grown up watching him play the hero. Evil indeed gets all the best lines.

Sudeep has performed the character without any self-doubt or inhibitions. He brings the character’s vileness home in the climax scene when he tortures Bindu and Nani. Sudeep’s performance is so compelling and large because of the impact that Nani creates in the first 30 minutes of the movie. He’s so seamlessly charming in every frame.

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Eega could also be described as SS Rajamouli’s first Tamil movie as it was shot in Telugu and Tamil simultaneously. The film’s appeal was also increased by the cross-industrial pairings. The movie was led by Sudeep, a big star in Kannada cinema, helmed by a top Telugu director, and the main characters were played by Tollywood’s A-listers: Samantha Ruth Prabhu and Nani.

When Eega was released in theatres, it became a huge hit across the southern states. Despite making all the right noises, the film failed to get the attention of audiences in the Hindi belt. It’s said in 2012, the movie made as little as Rs 1 crore in the north circuit. One can only imagine how this film might perform in the current market condition. Take, for example, Kantara. It has made such a splash across the country purely on the goodwill it generated with critics and the audience. The success of Kantara shows how the audience from different languages and cultural backgrounds have overcome their self-imposed hurdles to celebrate and reward good films from every corner of the country. And Eega is one of the trailblazers in initiating this momentous shift in our movie-going culture.

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