Sudeep, Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Naani
By Anamika Chatterjee
IN INDIAN cinema, protocol demands that a dead protagonist be reborn as a human. However, in the fictional universe of SS Rajamouli, there’s no room for codes of storytelling. His hero dies early in the film only to be reborn as a fly. It isn’t a regular arthropod with insectly concerns, this is a fly that knows the business of revenge. Jani (Naani) is suffocated to death by Sudeep (Sudeep), who obsesses over the former’s love interest. Despite the constraints of our hero’s newly-acquired size, he’s determined to avenge himself and protect his girlfriend Bindu (Samantha). That’s the plot of a film anointed one of Telugu cinema’s biggest hits.
Makkhi has a clear agenda. It wants to entertain and manages to do so for considerable screen time. Until some scenes that don’t quite fly even in suspended disbelief. The girlfriend orders coffee in a restaurant and pours some in a saucer for Makkhi to drink. The waiter spots the fly and offers to replace the coffee. But the loving girlfriend insists, “Peene do na!” Nuggets intended to get a few laughs get squashed by their own heavy hand.
The film’s occasionally flimsy plot is supported by decent performances. Sudeep is convincing as the uber lustful millionaire. Samantha fits into her role as the girl-next-door. However, it is the animated fly that not only evolves as a character by itself, but also exhibits a full range of filmy emotions —romance, loss, tragedy, anger, bravado, even single-minded pursuit of revenge. In several ways, Makkhi is to this film what Rajinikanth has been to Tamil movies — an invincible superhero.
Visually spectacular, the film can be outlandish, and perhaps the only real villain of Makkhi is an insistence that it remain within the conventions of logic. If that’s not your concern, then this is as good as your fly-on-the-wall fantasy gets. With the promise of a sequel, of course.
Anamika Chatterjee is Deputy Copy Editor, Features with Tehelka.