“You could cast a net to catch a carnivore but you go under a net to escape a mosquito,” — these lines from a yesteryear film sum up the agony a housefly can cause to the man who killed it in its previous birth as a human!

Allowing yourself to be transported to a world of fantasy, and a willing suspension of disbelief are prerequisites, if you wish to enjoy this S.S. Rajamouli film. Death and after-life seem to fascinate him.

Yamadonga and Magadheera (Maaveeran in Tamil) exemplify the point. Rarely has a Telugu filmmaker been able to transcend the flavour typical to his region and vest his treatment with universal appeal. But Rajamouli accomplishes it with élan. The time and care he has taken to weave a racy and engaging yarn of love and villainy, with a housefly as the fulcrum, can be seen in every frame of Naan Ee (U/A), his first straight film in Tamil.

Rajamouli’s story-telling technique is his strength. And when narration is effective, the rest falls in place. With no big stars to bolster the promo campaigns, Rajamouli’s track record (so far every film of his has been a hit) and the visual effects that the film promised perked up interest. And now the film lives up to the hype.

Naani, who charmed viewers with his smile in Veppam, is back in Naan Ee. It may be a 30-minute role, but the magic works all over again. And Sudeep from the Kannada screen scores a perfect ten as the consummate villain. The role is clichéd all right, but he gives it an appealing individuality. The comedic slant to the part is bound to go down well with viewers. Naan Ee should usher in a success spell for Samantha, the petite heroine, in Tamil.

Senthil Kumar’s cinematography has been a highpoint of many a Rajamouli film. Here, together with the expertise of the special effects team he makes Naan Ee a visual splendour. Venkateswara Rao’s slick editing has helped sustain the pace, while ‘Crazy’ Mohan’s dialogue is another enhancing factor. Surprisingly, as a writer he also excels in the breezy romantic segment! Yet if you expect much of ‘Mohanism’ in the form of play on the word, ‘Ee’ (housefly), it happens only towards the end when he himself appears as a vet from Kerala. These days no Tamil film seems complete without Santhanam. A brief appearance, but his presence is enjoyable. (Don’t leave the hall when the final credits roll. Otherwise you could miss both Mohan and Santhanam.) Maragathamani (Keeravani) returns to Tamil after a gap and makes his presence felt with his peppy RR.

It’s love at first sight for Sudeep (Sudeep), a rich megalomaniac with a weakness for women, when he sees Bindu (Samantha). Oblivious of his sinister intentions, she makes her love for neighbour Naani (Naani) quite obvious and that’s enough to kindle Sudeep’s murderous instinct. He isn’t going to let an ordinary fellow be a suitor for the woman he craves for, and soon the buzz begins …

But why the extreme step so early in the film? Generally, a screen villain starts off with threats, doesn’t he? And his lust for Bindu has just about begun! Probably Rajamouli wished to keep frills to a minimum and expedite the entry of the housefly. So the only time you sense a lull is when the character of Tantra and his black magic attempts are brought in. The part seems to revive the Vittalacharya — a director who revelled in occult themes — genre of yore! Thankfully it is wrapped up soon.

In all probability, next time you see a housefly, you wouldn’t give it the look of disgust you generally do, thanks to Rajamouli! Let’s celebrate the figment of the creator’s imagination that has made the housefly appear as invincible as any of our muscle-flexing heroes. It’s a Super-housefly that can read, write, hear, fight … do just about everything!

Don’t look for logic here, you won’t find any. And at times the housefly’s heroism is too far-fetched. Incidentally, wonder why the U/A tag for a film where comparatively violence is more entertaining than gory! If you could enjoy Spidermen and Supermen flying in the air to pulverise Evil or Kids being shrunk and blown up, you can also enjoy a housefly going for the villain’s jugular!

Naan Ee

Genre: Fantasy

Director: S. S. Rajamouli

Cast: Naani, Sudeep, Samantha

Storyline: A story of re-incarnation and revenge, where a housefly takes on a powerful villain …

Bottomline: Probably the only time in your life you’d actually feel kindly towards a housefly.

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Tamil Cinema ReviewsOctober 18, 2011