Makkhi is the most fun I have had at the movies in a very long time. Insanely inventive and ridiculously mad, this reincarnation and revenge saga of a housefly is a winner from the first frame to the last, giving us two hours of unadulterated fun.
Released to rave reviews and huge box office as the Telugu Eega three months ago, Makkhi — its dubbed and not remade Hindi version — reinforces the fact that a film doesn’t need big stars or huge budgets to strike gold with the audience. Director S.S. Rajamouli — the man who can give Salman Khan a run for his blockbusters with box-office biggies like Maryada Ramanna, Magadheera and Vikramarkudu — takes the classic theme of reincarnation, but puts it on steroids, coming up with a wacky tale that keeps you glued to your seat.
Makkhi starts off as the love story of happy-go-lucky Jani (played by Nani) and Bindu (Samantha Ruth Prabhu), a micro-artist who also runs an NGO. Though Jani has been pursuing her for two years, Bindu ignores his advances, but savours the attention secretly. However, on the day she decides to confess her feelings, Jani is abducted and brutally killed by Sudeep (played by Kannada star Sudeep), who lusts after Bindu and is determined to win her over at any cost.
But Jani is not one to be rid of so easily. He gets reincarnated as a fly. His single-minded mission: to wreak havoc in the life of his murderer.
Makkhi is thereafter narrated from the fly’s pixelated perspective. Hatching out of its shell, Makkhi starts seeing the world differently. Cigarette butt to flower petal — everything is in XXXL proportions for Makkhi. The desire to seek revenge burns strongly within him, but is not supported by his physicality. Time and again, he has to save himself from being squashed between someone’s fingers or being trampled upon by someone’s feet.
That’s when Makkhi decides to start using his brains. Nearly drowning in a jar of iced tea, he uses the mint sprig in it to swim to safety; when nearly killed by a whiff of insect repellent, he throws himself into a bowl of water; he also causes a traffic jam by buzzing irritatingly in the cop’s ear!
Initially, Makkhi is able to do no more than buzz noisily around Sudeep. However, aided by Bindu — who discovers halfway through the film that this is her lost love reincarnated with wings and a snout — Makkhi takes his enemy head-on. He builds his body using ear-buds as dumbbells, wears goggles to spy on him better and always has a trick or two up his sleeve to flummox him at every point.
Bazooka to bomb to even a baba in menacing robes — Sudeep pulls out all the stops to squash his winged adversary, but there’s no stopping Makkhi. You root for a fly just as much you rooted for Shah Rukh and Salman in Karan Arjun or Sridevi in English Vinglish.
Two hours of a fly foxing a human calls for a giant leap of faith, but it is to the credit of Rajamouli’s tight screenplay that makes the absurd seem real, willing you to accept anything that he throws at you. Almost every scene is a highlight, pushing the boundaries of creativity and the limits of storytelling. Just when you think that the director has reached the end of his game, he fishes a super-smart one out of his hat.
Makkhi wouldn’t be the film it is if it wasn’t for the special effects. The computer-generated Makkhi just goes to show that even Indian cinema can pull off world-class technology at half of Hollywood’s budget. Our only grouse? We would have loved to see Makkhi’s antics in 3D.
Even as Makkhi hogs the limelight, Sudeep — seen in Ramgopal Varma films like Phoonk and Rann — does well in the role of the man tormented by a fly while Samantha fits well into her largely uni-dimensional role.
Senthil Kumar’s camera is the real star as it follows Makkhi’s journey through the nooks and corners of the frame — from a boiling kettle of tea to a car’s smoky carburettor.
In the end, Makkhi may feel a little over-the-top and a tad too long at even just two hours, but we suggest you stick around to see the super-fun animated dance at the end, where Makkhi signs off with a Terminator-esque ‘I am back’. And no, by the law of averages, he isn’t born a human.
I was the only one watching the film at the 9.45am show at Fame (South City) on Friday morning. In an age where even an RGV Ki Aag gets some audience, Makkhi deserves better. Far better.
Go. Buy a ticket. Fly high!
Telugu director S.S. Rajamouli talks about his mega blockbuster film Eega (released in Tamil as Naan Ee) which has been dubbed in Hindi and released as Makkhi.
Of all your films, why did you decide that Eega should be re-released in Hindi as Makkhi?
All the other films are star-based which means that I would have to remake them. I wouldn’t have been able to dub it in Hindi. Considering I spend about two years on each film, I have no desire to remake any of my films in Hindi. So, Makkhi was an easier proposition.
Where did the idea originate?
My father (Vijayendra Prasad) is a story-writer and he has written all my films. He has been telling us crazy stories all our lives. A long time ago, he had told me the story of a young boy who was killed and he came back as a fly to take revenge. After Maryada Ramanna (which has been remade as Son of Sardar), I wanted to make a small and quick film, so we revived the idea.
Did you think at any point there is a risk of the audience not identifying with Makkhi, not seeing it as the hero?
There is always a risk when you make a film. I wasn’t scared because I was confident about the story. What was a challenge was getting the look and the character of Makkhi right. I wanted the audience to understand when Makkhi is happy or angry.
What kind of research did you have to do to get the right feel for Makkhi?
I watch a lot of Pixar animation films to understand how they give personality to animated objects. When humans convey emotions, we use the muscles around our eyes. With Makkhi initially we thought we didn’t have much to play with. But then I saw the famous Luxo lamp animation that is now Pixar’s logo. The animator has managed to convey so much emotion with just a lamp! I also saw another film that has a table with personality. So, we figured that it should be easy to give a fly personality. This was the biggest challenge because I had worked a lot with special effects technicians in the past but animation was a new field for me. Thankfully, we got a great team who understood what I wanted.
How did Sudeep and Samantha deal with having a fly as a co-star?
One of my strengths as a filmmaker is that I can narrate a story well. So, I get actors to react the way I want. I remember when I was telling Samantha the story the first time, she was crying. She wasn’t reacting to the Makkhi but to the loss of her character’s lover. With Sudeep, it was a little easier because he is a director himself. So, he understood the challenges that he would face.
Alongwith Makkhi, your earlier blockbuster Magadheera (that starred Chiranjeevi’s son Ram Charan Teja and will be remade by Anurag Kashyap’s production house) also revolved around the theme of reincarnation.
I like reincarnations. When a story has someone coming back to life to complete a wish, the audience automatically roots for the protagonist. One of my first memories of the genre is watching Karan Arjun as a young boy in a hall in Hyderabad. That film had me crying and laughing and rooting for Karan and Arjun to kill the villain. I guess my love for the genre originated there.
Quite a few of your films are being remade in Bollywood. Have you seen Rowdy Rathore that is based on Vikramarkudu?
Yes I have and I completed enjoyed it. There is no greater feeling than seeing a film that I made being remade and raking in over Rs 100 crore at the box office.
But you have no wish to remake any of your films here?
No. I would much rather work on a fresh idea. I want to make a Bollywood film. There is no denying that. Any storyteller wants a bigger audience and a Hindi film is the best way to reach the maximum number of people in this country. I am currently working on my next script and if things work out, I would want to simultaneously make it in Telugu and Hindi.