Super Deluxe from Thiagarajan Kumararaja isn’t a grey noir film like Aaranya Kaandam. It is actually a partly satirical comedy that addresses the grey shades of human emotions. At one point in the movie, a character says that ten thousand years back we wore nothing and we don’t know whether we will be wearing anything after a thousand years. The context in which that dialogue comes in the movie says a lot about the idea Kumararaja wants to convey and the movie Super Deluxe is a unique, hilarious and effective exploration of that idea.
The trailer of the film actually gave us nothing about what the movie is about, so let me put the spoiler alert right away and warn you that this review may reveal some of the plot points. The story here is actually an amalgamation of multiple incidents that have some connecting links. A couple is trying to hide a dead body, three friends are trying to find a way to make money to replace a broken TV, a mother is trying to save the life of her son who actually tried to kill her and a transsexual man who has come to his house after the transformation. What all happens to these people and what connects all of them is the core of super deluxe.
In the second half of the movie, there is a nicely spoofed fantasy part. Even though I loved it as an isolated scene, there was a part of me that feared whether Kumararaja will mess it up by being overly wacky. But that fantasy element in the screenplay has a major role in presenting the concept Kumaraja wants to show us as it has characters that looked at the world from an outsider perspective. The couple story involving Mugil and Vaembu is a frequently hilarious episode that has this emphasis on the petty possessive feelings of humans. The Shilpa story deals with the idea of acceptance and it is perhaps the least dramatic story in the film. The story of the mother and son deals with both fragile God concept and also the moral hypocrisy within us. And the story of the gang of friends is perhaps the easiest one here and that also has an emphasis on certain ideas surrounding the fake morality.
Expecting a Vijay Sethupathi movie or a Fahadh Faasil movie in Super Deluxe will be a huge miscalculation. This is a film where almost everyone can confidently say that each actor was the director’s tool to convey something. In terms of screen time, it might be the three boys running behind the TV who may have got the better and they were extremely good as those characters. Fahadh Faasil’s Mugil is that morally conscious young husband and Kumararaja has squeezed out the best from him. His reaction after seeing the dead body and his conversation with the dead body were some memorable moments from the movie. And I loved the way he became the “bad actor” in one particular sequence. Samantha was also pretty effective as the less vocal Vaembu who was largely communicating through minimal expressions. The performance of Vijay Sethupathi isn’t loud here to grab any attention. Sethupathi as Shilpa is largely using the body language and voice modulation to create empathy for that character. The anger Shilpa shows in that police station sequence was extremely real and raw. I really laughed hard seeing the expression of Mysskin after that Teddy Bear dialogue. The performance of Bagavathy Perumal as the venomous police officer was fantastic. Ramya Krishnan as the self-made woman who cares for her son and Ashwanth Ashokkumar who played the role of Shilpa’s son were the other two memorable performances in the movie.
Here, Thiagarajan Kumararaja is trying to expose the hollowness in our concepts about God, about the good and bad, the right and wrong, etc. He uses scientific references like the parallel universe and the atomic structure to deconstruct all that. And all these statements happen only in the very last 10 or 15 minutes of a 175 minutes long film. He has sort of allowed his subplots to develop very organically taking its own time to become those memorable stories. Some are rich on humor while some are too much on the grey side. If you give importance to the interlinking of stories, you may find the chapter of Shilpa not blending easily with the other ones. But for the larger picture, Shilpa is an essential component. The cinematography style changes for each subplot and the most peculiar one was the one featuring the three boys. The cuts and Yuvan Shankar Raja’s background score keeps the movie on a very engaging zone.
Super Deluxe is entirely a director’s movie. I have heard Thiagarajan Kumararaja saying in an interview that his aim is to provide entertainment to the audience and trust me this movie has quality entertainment. This movie is not a lengthy showreel for Vijay Sethupathi or Fahadh Faasil. It is Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s display of his hold over the craft of film making.
This movie is not a lengthy showreel for Vijay Sethupathi or Fahadh Faasil. It is Thiagarajan Kumararaja's display of his hold over the craft of film making.