In your own life, you would have felt guilty about being responsible for someone’s current position & tried to mend it when an opportune time passed by; You would have vented your frustration or anger on a subject irrelevant to the stimulus causing the anger; Your opinion might not have been heard even when you’ve pleaded – the ‘No * multiple times’ response to it would have led to piling up your helplessness; You would have had to explain your position to someone intimate to avoid getting judged; And most definitely, you would have had a miraculous moment in life letting you appreciate the deed of God or an external force.
We get to see all of that from the different lead characters in Super Deluxe. The extent, the size of it might vary but the slices-of-life you get to see as the story unfolds is unmistakable!
The film could be seen as an able twin of Aaranya Kaandam, Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s much acclaimed 2010 work (It won him a National award for Best Debut Director) in the sense that it has characters that extend from it (We finally have a challenger for Kaalayan-Kodukkapuli pair), situations extending from it (remember the drunkard who abruptly passes away, there’s one such situation here too!), screenplay style (with the intertwined plot lines) and spectacular art-work (we get to see artistic houses and streets, long shots of oil-refineries and pylons, a Thiruttu CD shop with a nicely framed poster of Kill Bill)
Where the film succeeds is not in its similarities with Aaranya Kaandam but in its differences with it. After all, you don’t expect a promising debutant to come up with just an incremental version of what he showed earlier, right? The stories here are connected alright but they don’t necessarily come together and meet at one point – which makes the screenplay that much harder to absorb. There is fun aplenty in the way the character arcs get defined but there’s also the layer which presents a commentary through them – you get view-points however shallow they are on marriages, on how classifying by Caste is any different from doing so by language/country, you are made to think about the suffocating little space society has given to transgenders (this point comes home with all the force thanks to the path-breaking portrayal of the transgender Shilpa by Vijay Sethupathi), pushed to wonder how a strong belief of ours on something could have a wafer thin base & also get to be curious on how tiny we could all be in the bigger scheme of things
These layers are what make it worth a repeat viewing (which is highly recommended) but the writing (The director in collaboration with Neelan Sekar, Nalan & Mysskin) offers you the option of watching the film without getting hindered by the complexities thanks to the quirky situations the characters find themselves in & the dark humour sprinkled all across the narrative, some at the expense of logic. (you see a gangster gambolling around with a duffer of a teen and losing his mother’s beloved Television in the process)
The performers elevate the already towering experience – Vijay Sethupathi leading the way showing how quality can trump quantity. He needs just 3 scenes – one at his house, one in a police station & another in a subway – to steal the show from his competent companions. That doesn’t take anything away from them all. The Shilpa-Raasukutti bonding gets a special space also thanks to the special work of the kid playing Raasukutti. Fahadh Faasil & Samantha have paired scenes and to Samantha’s credit, she doesn’t let Fahadh have it all. She tops that with an impressive performance when forced to react in a way she doesn’t want to later in the film.
Mysskin gets a long worn scene towards the end (which might look lengthy but I was convinced it required to be that long given the impact it has on the character’s life). Gayathrie delivers a restrained yet remarkable show & Ramya sizzles in an emotional scene. The boys do a decent job of adding chaos to the order and in taking us back to our teens with a mix of some great jokes and some bland ones – just as we would have had then. PS Vinod & Nirav Shah provide frames that make us feel like we are seated in a Wes Anderson film only to be surprised when Kumararaja bowls us over with an abstract portion reminding us of another Anderson! It would be safe to say Yuvan Shankar Raja is still on top of his game given the variety and restraint he provides with the background score.
The coming together of all these pieces makes this a compelling three-hour watch. On my way back home, I was compiling the scenes together and getting happy being reminded of a significant bit here, an insignificant bit there and you know when a movie makes you do this, it’s a winner, Monday test notwithstanding – Box office stories are for the business. I hope we are not made to wait much longer for Kumararaja’s next venture – I would like to be reminded of more slices of my own life, through the peculiar universe & the artistic camera lens of his! Till then, like Gaaji says in the film, May the force be with you,TK!
Column written by Sivaram L.