Film Review: Super Deluxe

Super Deluxe is a pioneering film in the recent world of Tamil cinema. Thiagarajan Kumararaja has put together 4 stories in this masterpiece. We have a young, married couple, Vembu (Samantha Akkineni) and Mugil (Fahadh Faasil), who have to go through a situation that is a test of their marital relationship after things go awry when Vembu sleeps with an ex lover. For Shilpa (Vijay Sethupathi), it is coming back home to her abandoned family after years, and meeting her excited son, Raasukutty (Ashwanth Ashokkumar). She is a transgender woman who has to meet them for the first time after she’s been out. Four teenage boys, Gaaji (Vijay Ram), Vasanth (Noble K. James), Thooyavan (Abdul Jabar), and Soori (Naveen), are excited to watch porn, when things quickly go south when one of them finds his mother in the film they’ve rented. The mother, Leela (Ramya Krishnan), is a former adult film actor who is married to a now estranged Arputham (Mysskin) who converts to Christianity when he believes that Christ saved him from the Tsunami that took the lives of millions. He believes that he is the right hand of God and preaches the Lord’s word. Amidst all this, a corrupt SI named Berlin (Baghavathy Perumal) is notorious for abusing his power to sexually harass people.

The 4 stories don’t meet at a single defined moment. Instead, they cross paths at different intersections, and go on. The key theme to these stories is much bigger than each of the plots itself, and you can count on Kumararaja’s references of pop culture and black humour to take you through them. All the stories see the protagonists come face-to-face with their long held beliefs and question them. While some harsh realities are presented to the viewer, all stories are woven together in a tongue-in-cheek manner.

The characters are well-written. The actors do complete justice to them as well. Vijay Sethupathi comes through in his performance as Shilpa. The scenes between Shilpa and Raasukutty are unforgettable, pure, and emotional. Never before have mainstream actors played transgender characters in mainstream Kollywood that shows them in a human light. The discrimination in the story is real, raw, and what often happens in the world. It is satisfying that the film doesn’t portray transgender people with the (often derogatory) stereotypes that Indian cinema usually does. Here, Shilpa is her own person, with her own story, like anyone else.

Fahadh Faasil, who is already well known for this acting prowess in the Malayalam Film Industry, does a brilliant job playing Mugil, the husband who is acting out after finding out of his wife’s infidelity. Samantha has come a long way in portraying complex characters. Ramya Krishnan’s role as Leela is powerful, strong, and brave, and a testament to most single mothers who often break the stereotypes plastered on them by society. A very pivotal and relatable moment is when Arputham begins to question his faith in God when his son is injured.

Any more information on Super Deluxe would be robbing away the experience of watching it yourself. From a technical perspective, it is a treat to watch. The art direction brings out the beauty in the most mundane situations and locations. The blue walls of your house that you never bothered about, suddenly start looking aesthetically pleasing to you. Without Yuvan Shankar Raja’s background score, the film wouldn’t have the same effect. And the cinematographers, PS Vinod and Nirav Shah, do a brilliant job in bringing out Kumararaja’s vision.

Overall, Super Deluxe steals you away for the entire show. It’s a brilliant piece of work. Unfortunately, in the theatre, I heard a few mocking laughs and snickers during the scenes with Shilpa, who is transgender. Maybe a few more ‘Super Deluxe’s later that won’t happen; maybe people will learn to treat others the way that they want to be treated.

You can watch Super Deluxe at a movie theatre near you. English subtitles are usually available at multiplexes like PVR. Call them to find out.

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Teenasai Balamu is a full-time musician (GrapeGuitarBox) based in Bangalore. When she's not playing music, you can find her in her natural habitat drinking tea and laughing at memes on the internet. She's passionate about tea, pizza, sports, doggos, comedy shows, music, and putting an end to patriarchy. Motto: F*** Heteronormativity.

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