"If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito." - Dalai Lama XIV
Whether a mosquito or a fly, the presence of such a bug busily buzzing around you can be a troublesome - and sometimes dangerous - matter.
This imaginative reinterpretation of the standard love and revenge saga was so popular that it was dubbed in multiple languages as Naan Ee (Tamil), Eecha (Malayalam), and Makkhi (Hindi). For purposes of this post, character names are from the original Telugu version.
The film narrates the story of a spirited young man named Nani (Naveen Babu Ghanta) who is in love with Bindu (Samantha Ruth Prabhu). Bindu works at a charity and in the evening she pursues her passion as a micro-artist. She knows of Nani's love and is amused by his ardor, but she feigns a lack of interest.
Nani persists in his pursuit and soon an opportunity comes that allows him to freely express his feelings to Bindu. This time, she is inspired by his words. Just as she is ready to admit she loves him in return, they are forever separated by the wealthy industrialist (and closet bad-guy) Sudeep (Sudeep Sanjeev) who has been pursuing Bindu as his next romantic conquest. Seeing that Nani presents a threat to his plans, Sundeep eliminates his rival.
Or so he thinks.
Not easily put down, Nani reincarnates as a housefly. Nani seeks to avenge his death while protecting Bindu from Sudeep's nefarious advances.
For anyone who's had to deal with an aggressive housefly, the film can be an uncomfortable reminder that size doesn't always matter. What matters is passion and persistence. Nani evolves from a belligerent annoyance to a relentless pest clearly bent on taking Sudeep down.
Actor Sudeep does an amazing job portraying a man vexed by the hostile housefly. From swatting the air to reacting to the creepy sensation of a creature crawling across his skin, through Sudeep we begin to experience a tinge of insectophobia - or in this case, Naniphobia.
Whereas Sudeep wants to destroy housefly Nani, Bindu seeks to nurture him. She connects with him on a level that requires no words, a connection formed from a shared tragedy from a common source. This leads her to become an active accomplice in his revenge strategy.
As Bindu, Samantha connects with the tiny creature on an emotional level - pouring the love she holds for Nani into his reincarnated form. Their companionship is constant and, in one amusing scene, Bindu shares a cappuccino with housefly Nani at a local coffee shop, much to the chagrin of the wait staff.
As for the star of the film, director S.S. Rajamouli worked with Makuta VFX to create a cute, comic and creepy creature that looks remarkably realistic. Even with the humorous scenes of Nani the housefly bench-pressing cotton swabs and body building with the help of lightbulb filaments, there is very little to point at that gives the impression this is anything other than a bonafide Musca domestica - albeit a well-trained one.
Rajamouli helped bring a great deal of personality to this fearless flying creature by acting out the various scenes of housefly Nani for the VFX team. From the murderous rage displayed by ferociously beating wings to the physical reaction to a direct dose of insect repellent to the defiant shake of his abdomen, Rajamouli manages to leverage the mannerisms of the everyday housefly in new - and sometimes delightfully devious - ways.
But perhaps what makes this story most entertaining and memorable is Rajamouli's ability to tell a monumental story on a micro scale. Given the current political climate, this David vs. Goliath story seems less of a tale about taking down the enemy than it is about the strength of the seemingly powerless to defy powerful wrongdoers.
With Rajamouli at the helm, humble housefly Nani's story is no less than that of the heroes of his award-winning films Magadheera and Baahubali. Eega won two National Film Awards, five Filmfare Awards, and three South Indian International Movie Awards. Whether the original Telugu or one of the dubbed versions, the story of Nani is simply epic.
The following playlist features trailers for each version of the film and some CGI breakdown for select scenes.
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