Super Deluxe

Super Deluxe

Super Deluxe, to me, is a film about pleasure. And it provides the exactly that for the viewer. In a different sense maybe, but it does that. It begins with an act of physical pleasure, then shows what a kid can derive emotional pleasure out of (and that that is all he wants), later makes a point that people who are in the business of virtual pleasure are judged (but not those consuming it), and finally ends with three boys (tangled in a mess involving gangsters) heading for a theatrical experience of that virtual pleasure. The story in the trailer makes sense now. A man caught up in all that danger forgets about everything and decides to go for that one drop of honey – a kind of pleasure. There are plenty of other parallels drawn, and ironies handed out, with commentary on topics ranging from politics, religion and the system. Strangely none of these statements appear forced, for Thiagarajan Kumararaja is evidently painting a bigger picture. A picture of a better God, someone who doesn’t judge his creations and sees them all on one plane. He hasn’t even invited us for a discussion, he just presents his case and bounces. You do what you want with it.

The screenplay (with content gathered from three other writers) is replete with meticulously constructed scenes, each of which can work as short films on their own. The series of setups being my favourite sets of them all. I don’t think there’s any broad stroke in here, every sequence seems to be loaded with intricate details that contain a comment on the point the film is trying to make. Some of these “easter eggs” feel more like a part of the film’s philosophy than mere pop culture references. Four teenagers who are prepping up to watch a porn film, are pictured with track “Andhiyile Vaanam” playing in the background. Imagine it as an invite to what they are setting off to. Imagine how something created all those years ago fits so well inside a story written more than two decades later. The film’s design is to glorify such chaos and randomness. Do not look for patterns, pieces will fit at random (or is everything just one thing?), all you have to do is just lay back and derive pleasure as it comes. Existentialism for later. There’s one hard pill to swallow in the second half, which might come across as a very alien element (pun fully intended), but if you are as open to it as the boy is it is sure to be one immensely pleasurable scenario. This seems to be why the “alien element” seems to have found a liking to him – he is broadminded and willing to accept to what’s handed out to him. Can I push this further and consider this as something that the film wants the audience to be? I’ll never know. But I guess can do what I want with it.

The comparatively tangible aspects of the film, like the insanely steady editing (Sathyaraj Natarajan) and poised but striking cinematography (Nirav Shah and PS Vinod), appear spotless. The sound design is as active as the background score. There are constant clanking of metals from a nearby metal yard in a very uncomfortable scene set in a police station. The sounds of roaming cats surround the dialogues at a gangster’s place. There’s a lot happening everywhere you go. Just when I thought Yuvan Shankar Raja couldn’t top Peranbu this year, look at what he’s come up with. His timing is impeccable (equal credits to TK). This is an absolute belter of a score. It doesn’t fill the soundscape but it reaches out and shines when it has to. This is him in the same form as from Aaranya Kaandam. The costumes and the contrast they generate with the sets and backdrops, are why the imagery of this film will stick with you longer than usual. The production design even becomes a part of the staging, in an almost Wes Anderson-ish manner. The revolving door is a great example, in the scene where Vaembu (a terrific Samantha) and Mugil have to pull something out of a refrigerator in stealth mode. A T-shirt that says “fuck”, written up-side down in Tamil, might seem like a random quirky property at first, but watch how it is actually put to use. The characters are in a fix there, but we also manage to find our own source of pleasure in the same scene. Such elaborate detailing happens in films where there’s a larger vision at work.

Vijay Sethupathi is superlative as Shilpa. Keeping the heavy weight of his character aside, the man has genuinely delivered yet another good performance. His exasperation in the scene where he becomes sort of a second “divine intervention” in Arputham’s (a pitch-perfect, eccentric Mysskin) life, is going right up there in the ranks of his own filmography. These are two men who have changed identities (Manickam became Shilpa and Dhanashekar is now Arputham) and are going through cathartic experiences around the same time as each other. Shilpa realises her decision of identity does affect those around her, even on a non-judgmental note. Arputham’s existence is challenged as he comes across another person who’s gone through the same physical experience as him but has chosen to perceive it in a drastically different way. This story might only be tangential to the other stories that I identified as ones revolving around pleasure, but again, there’s the bigger picture at play.

Everyone has their own stories, and it would be beneficial to everyone if people stop seeing each other as belonging to one, same spectrum. Also, the spectrum keeps changing with the years, so why waste time on judging ourselves or anyone based on it? Everyone is as different as they are similar. But does that mean you can also see them as one? This “mystery of life” might remain unsolved, but this film has managed to give us the pleasure of thinking about it. Just stick out your tongue, and lick the honey! That’s where the pleasure is, and life is all about the pleasures, size no bar.


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Rajkumar Paramasivam
Rajkumar Paramasivam
1 year ago

Great one !! Reading the review was also a pleasure !!

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