Two parts ingenuity, three parts exploration of the old formula - these are what make up Telugu cinema's undoubted mastermind SS Rajamouli's Eega, dubbed into Hindi as Makkhi (I personally saw the Telugu original). He doesn't re-invent the wheel by making the audience care so much about the fate of a common housefly or its epic revenge tale against one man, but so much can be said for the execution of it. Clever, visual, riveting to watch and just marvelous masala, Eega takes a rather strange premise and turns it into one of the best films of last year.
The story is (as you might've guessed) one of rebirth. Nani (actor also named Nani) has been longing for Bindu (Samantha) for over two years, and just as she shows signs of being interested, Nani thwarted by our resident villain Sudeep (Kicchan Sudeepa ..or just Sudeep) who kills him. Just plain murders him, around 30 minutes into the film. Luckily, Nani gets reborn as a common housefly, and is ready to exact revenge on Sudeep, and stop him from creeping on Bindu, who now thinks she's lost the love of her life.
The premise changes a couple of things about this masala. We don't get that many songs (though the ones we do get are great), and the hero being a fly means we don't get that much of his romantic antics. For the lack of that, we get much more of Sudeep's excellent villainry. He exudes moral corruption, greed and icky lust for our heroine, so there is genuine joy in watching him slowly unravel in front of us.
I actually don't want to discuss the specifics of what happens after Nani's rebirth, because discovering all the twists and turns of the tale are the real joy of the story. To spoil them would be the spoil the film, which I definitely don't want to do - this post a full-fledged recommendation.
If forced to give a criticism, however, I have to say Nani's performance did not make me want him to stick around any longer than he did. He is your typical hyper young hero you see every so often in Telugu action masalas. Sometimes that can be very likable, but in here, Nani just doesn't quite work for me. He's too much of a buffoon, too hyper and goofy but never actually funny.
These might just be character traits that the actor cannot do much to fix, however, so I preserve judgment on him as an actor for a later role, but for now, I was glad to see the guy replaced by a CGI-fly.
Sudeep is just great as our striking-yet-slimy villain. His performance against the CGI really carries the film, as it should. He's on the right side of exaggerated, never as cartoony as the character could've been and he's just fun to loathe, and easy on the eyes as well. I pretty much loved him in this, and look forward to any future ventures he's in.
The CGI is for the most part seamless. There are only a few times where the fakeness of the graphics is so obvious you get a bit jerked out of the story, but for the most part, the graphics serve the story. The visual story-telling overall is pretty much top-notch.
The film has a fitting narrative device of a framework story - a kid asking their father to tell them a bedtime story - so it's not like the story needs to be realistic. And it really isn't, nor does it need to be. This is essentially an execution of a peculiar idea, and one that works surprisingly well. As such, it should be celebrated.
Samantha also does a good job as Bindu. Her part of the story is where the film goes on over-drive in terms of implausibility, but I think her performance sells it and while there are some aspects I find quite questionable (like the continued implied romance between her and Nani), she's very effective in the role. It's certainly more demanding than your average Telugu heroine part.
Whichever version (Telugu, Tamil or Hindi) you can get your hands on, Eega is a film worth checking out - for the peculiar premise, for the execution of that premise, for the awesome villainry or just because it's a film unlikely to be replicated any time soon. Whatever your reasons for watching the film may be, I think you'll enjoy it.