I have never taken so much time to write a review. This is the most difficult one I had to write in a long time and probably the longest one too. Before getting in to the review, I have to talk about the director of “Super Deluxe”.
Thyagarajan Kumararaja (TK) is the name. His first film released in 2011. “Aaranya Kandam” was a film which most of them could not relate to or connect with, when it released. People didn’t have much idea about Neo-Noir films too. The only problem with “Aaranya Kandam” was that it released ahead of our times. The audience were not ready to accept such films and more so because it did not have big stars. But it still remains as one the best creations in Tamil film history. There was a huge cult following for the film and the director after its release. It’s also one of the films which did a huge business after the theatrical release through DVD’s and other platforms.
Everyone were so excited to see what TK was going to do next. But he never did one till 2018, until he announced “Super Deluxe”. Inspite of that, the cult following never ceased ….. it only increased, which is evident from the rousing reception his name received during the title cards for “Super Deluxe”. In one the recent interviews, he was quoted to be saying that “He never wanted to make a film for the sake of it. He was just roaming around with his friends all these years and having fun. He believes in letting things unfold on its own”. But then it was his fans who were missing him more. They were waiting so patiently for his second film. When such a director comes forward to make a film with talented powerhouse like Vijay Sethupathi and Fahadh Faasil, there is bound to be expectation beyond limits. Does Super Deluxe satisfy all this hype and expectation?
Multi narrative films have been there for some time now. The trend which started with “Pulp Fiction” never actually caught up with Indian film makers for a long time. However, after the huge success of the Malayalam film “Traffic”(which was also remade in several other languages), we have seen several such films oflate. “Super Deluxe” is also a multi narrative film which has 4 stories unfolding in a very leisurely manner in front of us and how their lives are interconnected at some point of time. Each story also stresses on lot of issues affecting the society currently.
Spoilers Alert!! A Rated Review (Movie is also A rated)
Mugil (Fahadh Faasil) and Vaembu (Samantha) are married (arranged) and live together in a housing board flat. Things are not rosy between them. In such circumstances, Vaembu meets up with up her ex-boyfriend one day and they end up making out. But the poor guy dies mid-way. Mugil who comes to know about this tries to help Vaembu out of this mess, provided she signs the divorce papers.
We also have Gayathri, who along with her son are waiting anxiously for the return of her estranged husband Manickam (Vijay Sethupathi). But to their surprise, he comes back as Shilpa, after undergoing a sex-change operation in Mumbai. This story is told through the eyes of their son Rasukutti (Master Ashwanth) who is keen to introduce his father to his friends at school.
Arputham (Mysskin) converts to Christianity after he get saved in Tsunami by holding on to a broken Jesus statue. His wife Leela (Ramya Krishnan) tries to keep the house in order. Then there are 5 school kids in their teens who bunk the classes to watch porn. Incidentally, one of the kid recognize that the actress in the porn film is his own mother. In a fit of anger, he breaks the TV and runs away to kill her. All these stories are connected with one another in a strange way. We also have a dirty cop Beril (played superbly by Bagavathi Perumal) who tries to make use of the situation for his own personal pleasure.
What makes Super Deluxe unique is the narration and the details which goes into each frame along with humongous performance by the actors. TK takes his time in establishing each character and gives the lead actors several scenes to flourish and bring their acting talent to the fore. Each and every character is well-defined, have a need to fulfill, a dream to live and a role to play in the overall template. The film takes its own time in unfolding that you find some scenes are stretched very long. Yes, the movie is infact 178 minutes long and could have been trimmed a bit. But the sheer magic of narration (scripted by TK along with Mysskin, Neelan K Sekar and Nalan Kumarasamy), presentation and performance keeps you glued to the screen.
Vijay Sethupathi is fanta-fabulous as Shilpa. The confidence in which he portrays the transgender character is unbelievable. Be it the voice modulation, the scenes in the police station, the scenes where he goes around with his son to the school and the beeda shop, he menaces the screen and displays varied emotions pulling your heart strings. I will be surprised if he does not bag the best actor award this year. A big credit goes to the make-up artist also, to have made his looks so authentic. This is by far one of the best performance by any Tamil actor in mainstream cinema.
Fahadh Faasil and Samantha are deadly in their own world. Fahadh is a very seasoned actor and has been part of several “New Age Cinema” in Malayalam. He puts all that experience to use here and gives a splendid performance. Watch out for the scene where he pretends to be drunk and explodes with his emotions inside the car. I have to give him credit for the dialogue delivery too. Samantha is brilliant as Vaembu and has several scenes to explore her acting skills. Mysskin and Ramya Krishnan also perform well. The scene where Leela begs to the doctors for treating her son in the hospital is a gem.
The biggest surprise in the casting is Bagavathi Perumal. With his looks and histrionics, you will be surprised that he has pulled out a shady character with so much of ease and élan. You will definitely wish to tear him to pieces at his very sight and utterance of each word. The BGM in these sequences add to the creepiness. The boys who play the roles of the school kids perform well. Master Ashwanth (as Rasukutti) is brilliantly cute. He brings out the eagerness and affection towards his father so blatantly that you would want to hug him yourselves in several scenes.
Technically, the film is beyond words. The cinematography (PS Vinod and Nirav Shah) is so beautiful that you will focus on each and every corners of the frame to understand how it’s so beautiful. Some of the shots reminded me of Sasikumar films, where the camera is kept in weird positions. For eg, in one shot you see the entire proceeding blurred out and only the foreground with some ants walking is in focus. In another scene outside a local hospital, the camera is somewhere inside the hospital and the entire action happens between the door frame far away for close to 3-4 minutes. BGM from Yuvan is silent in most places which adds to the proceedings and captivating otherwise.
A film with multi-narrative stories, brilliant performances by lead actors, talks about societal issues, sex and double meaning dialogues, several interesting metaphors (the one related to Tsunami being the best), sarcastic comments on various topics from sex to god, old Ilayaraja classics playing in the background, scintillating cinematography, makes you shed few tears, keeps you thinking sometimes, awkwardly funny in some sequences and yeah a scientific fiction element too and ending all this through a climax with a message for human beings ;) ….. fuck!! This is one hell of a concoction which you have to relish scene by scene, only in the theater.
Super Deluxe is indeed a fitting follow-up by Thyagarajan Kumararaja and he justifies his position as one of the most brilliant directors of our times. Just don’t miss this.
Rating – 4/5