Seven years ago today began the first-day shoot of India’s most profitable movie franchise – Baahubali. The project was declared one of the biggest hits of the Telugu film industry on the day it was announced in 2013. Of course, when Baahubali: The Beginning released two years later, it surpassed all expectations. But, the project received such massive attention and hype from the beginning solely because of SS Rajamouli. At the time, his fantasy thriller Eega was still fresh in the memory of the public. Everyone wondered when Rajamouli could turn a mere housefly into a superhero, what could he do with a star like Prabhas.
In hindsight, Eega was a prelude to a new phase in Rajamouli’s filmography. It was a testament to the director’s storytelling skills and the tenacity to turn his wildest dreams into a reality on the big screen. Eega released today eight years ago and laid the foundation on which the Baahubali project stood tall nationally.
In Eega, Sudeep develops lust after meeting Bindu. He thinks scoring her admiration is easy given that he is good-looking and rich. But, Bindu is interested in Nani, a happy-go-lucky guy from a middle-class family. And Sudeep’s frustration knows no bounds when he finds out that he’s outmatched by an average Joe. And the obvious happens, given that Sudeep is an evil man. Sudeep kills Nani in cold-blood. And it is only 35 minutes into the movie. Now, who will protect Bindu from Sudeep?
SS Rajamouli takes all the tropes of a classic love/revenge/action drama and flips them. The movie became a success story the moment the director convinced Sudeep to play the villain. It was a classic case of casting against the grain. Sudeep till that point played this near-perfect man, who was kind, morally upright and a man who would never hurt a housefly unless it wronged a woman or his family. But, to see him play the embodiment of pure evil drunk on power and arrogance was a sheer revelation. Sudeep sank his teeth into the character and delivered an award-winning performance. He was one of the best villains of the last decade. But, he did not shine when Chimbu Deven cast him as the villain in Puli (2015). Because unlike Rajamouli, Chimbu Deven did not love his villain.
But, how will a housefly defeat a 6-foot man? Well, the key is to keep bugging the target to the point of paranoia. As the film progress, you see the bug chip away at Sudeep’s strong and powerful personality and make him cower in the corner. Rajamouli designed scenes playing up the strengths of the housefly, and it received the same love and cheers that is usually reserved for the biggest star of Tollywood.
Eega is Rajamouli’s perfect film. And it is perfect because it is original. The movie hasn’t lost its entertainment value over the years. It is still as fascinating as it was eight years ago.
Eega is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
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