Sunday, February 8, 2015

Eega, directed by S. S. Rajamouli

India (Telugu), 2012
145 min, speculative, revenge, satire, comedy
Directed by S. S. Rajamouli

Nani has been trying to attract Bindu's attention for two years, and although she hasn't expressed it he thinks she likes him. Bindu works for an NGO focusing on children's education and creates micro art in her spare time. Sudeep is a manipulative bastard of a CEO who believes that he can get any woman to sleep with him in a blink of the eye.

When Sudeep sets his eyes on Bindu, he becomes enraged because she pays attention to Nani instead of to him. He kidnaps and murders Nani, with the intention of capturing Bindu in her weakened emotional state. Unfortunately for him, Nani is reborn as a fly and comes to wreak havoc upon his murderer.

But how can a fly take revenge on a human? And how can Nani make Bindu understand who he is?

Watch the first half on youtube: 

Buy from Amazon: 

EEGA Special Edition Telugu DVD Fully Boxed and Sealed - 2 Disc set

Satire or serious?

My husband is convinced that this movie was made very seriously because it follows what he describes as the "standard format" for Telugu movies: very masculine hero, very feminine lead actress, high proportion of special effects, sidekick that does not make sense with the film...

While I bow to his greater knowledge of Telugu films (his fieldwork is in Telangana), I find it hard to believe that scenes such as this one were not made with a bit of tongue-in-cheek: 

The fly is wearing a tiny little mask and goggles. And exercising. Bahahahahaha

In my opinion, this is in the best tradition of satire: taking a normal story to its most extreme version. I'm not sure if the makers of this film meant to critique the Indian popular film industry, but that is how I understand it. 

Men in Indian film 

The first 30 minutes of this movie highlight the ways that men, especially heroes, are portrayed in Indian popular films. Bindu, the female lead, is stuck between a rock and a hard place: Nani is the kind of creepy stalker who has been following her for 2 years despite her showing no interest in him, and Sudeep is the super smooth I-can-get-any-woman-in-bed-with-me, murderous entitled rich guy with severe anger management issues. Whereas Bindu is portrayed as a normal woman who is very capable and enthusiastic about her job. 

Um, can Bindu not have to pick between these two creepers? Where are the normal men?

This is something I have seen time and again in Indian films: for some reason, pestering the woman is considered to be the best way to get her to be with you. So I guess catcalling is super attractive?

Here's another example: Sharukh Khan's character in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge

I believe this would fall into the category of "loveably awkward" in the Hindi film understanding of life? I would call this something else: harassment and following her without permission. Even after she tells him to leave her alone, he continues to push himself into her space and make conversation, and tries to convince her to accompany him alone in a car. If you're still not sure why this should be labelled as harassment, take a look at this article

The saddest part of this clip is that this movie is extremely popular and Sharukh Khan (who acts pretty much the same in EVERY MOVIE) is one of the most loved film stars in India. 

Going back to Eega, this form of obnoxious masculinity seems to be the basis for the rest of the story. Sudeep continues to harass Bindu through the entire movie, leading to the final scene in which fly-Nani must save his erstwhile girlfriend from the evil villain. 

What's more, Bindu falls in love with Nani when she realizes that he's been reborn. There are a few dating scenes that are played for laughs. But in reality, this is a sad position for her to be in. Is she going to spend the rest of her life with a fly? And don't flies have really short lifespans? 

Bindu is in the movie to be the prize that Nani and Sudeep are fighting over. The interesting things about her character - her art, her work with the NGO - are just traits that provide opportunities for the male characters (Sudeep meets her through her work, she is able to make things small enough for fly-Nani). She has no life of her own, at least none that we are able to see. 

Hilarious satire

Despite the problematic treatment of masculinity and femininity, this movie is worth watching for the ridiculous plot and the well-done special effects. The actor who plays Sudeep is brilliant, just the person you would want for a villain (complete with an evil laugh!). 

I mean, who wouldn't enjoy a movie in which the villain tries to kill a fly by shooting it with a pistol? 

Like this review? Follow The Globally Curious on Twitter for more on international cinema and literature! 

No comments:

Post a Comment