I don't know why I haven't sat through a full-length Indian film until now. I don't have a good reason, just like I don't have a good reason for still not seeing Schindler's List. Though I have decided I'll finally watch that film with my son when he's 12 (he's currently less than one). Thanks to Fantastic Fest, the randomly selected Eega became my first Indian film.
Here's a brief plot summary of Eega courtesy of Josh Hurtado:
Nani is a simple, sweet guy in love with Bindhu, a micro-artist and the head of a non-profit organization. Unfortunately for Nani, local real estate and construction magnate Sudeep is also smitten with Bindhu. Sudeep usually gets what he wants, and in this case he's not going to let Bindhu get away. The only way to make that happen is to get rid of Nani, but killing him doesn't quite get the job done. Reincarnated as a fly, Nani plots and executes his revenge with spectacular flair.
I'm hoping one word stood out for you in that description, and it's the word "fly," which is "eega" in
Hindi Telugu. Let's walk through the experience of watching Eega, shall we? We shall.
First of all, it's told as a fairy tale from a father to his little daughter. Why he thinks it's appropriate to tell this odd love story, which involves cold-blooded murder to his daughter is never explained. Nani is definitely naive, Bindhu is lovely and Sudeep is evil. More importantly, there is significant product placement with Diet Coke and Jaguar. It's at this point when I realize there is nothing subtle about this (and potentially all) Indian films. Beautiful women talk in whispers. The style of the film switches moods so quickly. There are even wacky animal noises to accompany a comedic moment. Keep in mind it's only for one moment. It's not like animal noises make a comeback in the finale.
[OK, we need to pause for a second. What I am about to tell you is 100 percent true. I'm at a coffee shop, and a fly just landed on my computer. It stuck around. It started to follow the pointer on my screen. At this point I decided I was imagining this. So I moved the pointer to specific parts of my screen. The fly followed. This lasted for two very long minutes. It's easily the second most coincidental thing that has ever happened in my life. Think about it. I'm writing about a fly movie that barely anyone has seen, about a fly who can fully communicate with humans, and a fly lands on my computer screen and has a moment with me. I'm bewildered. And now back to your regularly scheduled article...]
There is only one musical number in Eega. From what I understand this is low for most Indian films. Later in the week at Fantastic Fest I saw Commando: A One Man Army, an action film with multiple songs, including one that is pretty much just a love ballad music video in the middle of the film. Nani is eventually killed and reincarnated as a larvae, then full-grown fly with background music hitting you over the head with the lyrics, "He's back!" First the fly gets stuck in a game of cricket while learning the ropes, and eventually shakes out of a spider web. The tone when with the fly is pretty serious at first. It's not meant to be a joke. Plus, the special effects are pretty dang impressive.
I almost forgot, Bindhu and Sudeep wear regular clothes to bed, not pajamas. What does this mean? Are Indian social politics such that you can't show pajamas in films? Do they actually not wear pajamas in India?
The highlight of the film for me is the training montage. I'm a sucker for sports movie montages (just ask the entirety of Rocky IV). Nani the fly has to get stronger to probably reek havoc and revenge on Sudeep. Luckily Bindhu builds him tiny weapons and constructs a workout gym. The fly eventually builds visible muscles. Eventually the film starts to run a little long when a wizard shows up out of nowhere, helping Sudeep understand why a fly is bugging him. When Sudeep says, "There is something more shocking than a fly trying to kill me," he's wrong, but I still love him for it.
Eega is a big, beautiful, colorful film that I can't believe exists. I know that I laughed at things that an Indian audience doesn't even know has crazy comedic elements. Talk of murder, love and flies breeze by with 90-degree tonal changes that aren't allowed to be part of American screenplays. Eega is my first taste of Indian, but it won't be my last.
Note: You can watch Eega online right now for the very reasonable price of $1.99.
MORE FROM AROUND THE WEB: