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Insect kingdom

The buzz on screen

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A bilingual film that has cast the housefly in a starring role has become one of the most eega-ly awaited releases.

Hero meets heroine. They fall in love. Much choreographed dancing follow everywhere they go. Enter bad guy. Dread everywhere. Bad guy no like hero. Fighting happens. More fighting happens. Hero dies. In death, hero wants revenge. Strange spirit, or fancy light, depending on which way you look at it, grants hero's wish. But hero doesn't want to be reborn as human. Because then he'll have to wait 20 odd years for adulthood and revenge. He wants short life and quick revenge. Eureka! A 17-day-life-span housefly it is then. Eega (fly) is born. The revenge is on.

This is the plot from down south that is making coup-like moves in the direction of Kolaveri Di. Directed by SS Rajamouli, Eega is a forthcoming bilingual film (Telugu-Tamil ) that has, these past few days, generated a considerable buzz, pun intended, on social media networks.

"Vijayendra Prasad, my father and a renowned story writer in the Telugu film industry - he has written most of my films - came up with the idea of a housefly irritating a villain, " says Hyderabad-based Rajamouli when he talks about the bizarrely, peculiarly and fantastically twisted plot. "He first mentioned it to me 15 years ago. I've been thinking about it ever since and here we are now, " he adds excitedly.

"Ek machhar aadmi ko hijra bana deta hai, " the character of Nana Patekar famously intoned in Yeshwant (1997). Apparently what holds true of the machhar (mosquito) also holds true for the makkhi (housefly). With the exception of this dialogue, houseflies and mosquitoes have been horribly short-changed in Indian cinema. Even pests with wings, aka pigeons, have had it better.

Cinemas elsewhere have been more inclusive of the insect kingdom. Hollywood, in particular, has astutely positioned arthropods such that they take over the box office. Although more often than not the said insects are depicted as fierce, scowling and menacing creepy-crawlies, there is evidence already that they have other more memorable and benevolent character traits such as those found in Antie, the friendly and brave ant from Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), or even the upright Barry B Benson from Bee Movie (2007).

Having said that, for some inexplicable reason Eega most readily recalls David Cronenberg's nightmarish sci-fi horror The Fly (1986) where a scientist's invention turns on him and transforms into a fly. Rajamouli, however, hasn't seen the film. He says, "I've heard about it. It's interesting but completely different from what we have. For one, Eega isn't sci-fiction. You could call it a socio-fantasy".

Actually Eega could be called many things: a comedy of errors, a tragic-comedy, a tragedy, a spoof, a coming-of-age story, an unselfconscious caricature, a portrayal of the inner life and existential crisis of a fly, a paranormal activity, an X-File, a revenge drama/ comedy, a crime thriller. It's genrebusting alright.

Or as Anurag Kashyap, has said on Twitter, "If you must be irreverent then be like Eega or don't be irreverent at all". If that sounds aphoristic then you've clearly missed the praise jamboree doing the rounds of networking platforms.
"I'm thrilled with all of it. People are familiar with my work and the film in Andhra so I was expecting this response, " says Rajamouli of Eega's popularity. "But the attention generated in Tamil Nadu and even north India has been unexpected. The whole team is very excited and we're working with renewed energy towards the release. We're hoping for a late April/early May release but a lot depends on the delivery of the computer graphics, " he adds.

In the film we have grown men, murderous thugs to be more precise, going at it with mosquito racquets and flyswatters, guns, and adopting other miscellaneous strategies to get rid of the fly but always falling short. Clearly, insect repellents were in short supply at the time of the making of the film. This fly is way too fly, even The Matrix - there's a sequence where Eega dodges the bullet Matrix-style - got nothing on it. And much like The Matrix, it cannot be explained.

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