The thing with Kumararaja’s films is that they are spectacularly entertaining, aestheticallly pleasing and intellectually thought provoking all at once. Striking gold in even one of these is a high bar, but we all know that Kumararaja is on a league of his own, don’t we? Starting with a guy dying while having sex and ending with a guy explaining how sex is the beginning of life, Super deluxe takes you on a ride that you never would have imagined even in your wildest of dreams.
As described by Ayya and Berlin, Kumararaja has created a beautiful, wonderful and marvelous universe for his films with interlinking characters and themes. In this universe, all bad cops have a phallically named little boys whatsapp group where they share artistic videos with each other, gangsters refer to their handymen as komalis and kids just want their dads no matter what. In it’s core, Super Deluxe is about a bunch of characters questioning their life choices due to an unforeseen circumstance. Vaembu and Mugil change their mind about their failing marriage after a fart induced counseling from a dead body, a kid questions his thinking about porn movie actors after coming to know that his mom is also one, another set of kids have existential thoughts after encountering an alien, faith of a cult leader with his own religion is disrupted by a chance encounter with someone who shatters his core belief and a gender transformed dad made to realise by his wife and kid that the world isn’t so bad after all. With so much duality in all characters in a movie that is trying to say that the universe is a singular entity and connecting these extreme story lines staying true to it’s core is ingenious.
I saw Super Deluxe twice. Once just to enjoy the film as an experience and then again to cater to the film enthusiast in me to look for clues, metaphors and symbolism everywhere and my god what an experience it was! I was having a field day listening to the back story of the hidden diamonds, finding super deluxe easter eggs all over, looking out for alien references, color coding characters, linking intentional primer-qsue editing glitches to time travel, magic event spotting in walls and noticing that the text changes to real life at one particular instance, cat references for characters, running into Vaembu’s ex later in an unrelated scene, ice cream being the closure for every story.. The film is a treasure trove for people like me to analyse the shit out of it.
Though having a lot of ‘messages’ in the film, Super Deluxe isn’t trying to propagate anything to the audience. In fact, it makes us question our core belief about so many things by making it’s character question their own beliefs. And the normalisation of generally alienated things according to ‘tamil culture’ is a much welcome change to the usual morality being portrayed on screen. Getting laughs out of atypical characters and normalising them is a trait that kumararaja has mastered in his craft. Shilpa’s flaw isn’t her gender, but the way she thinks about it in the larger scheme of things. We first laugh at the frustration of the kid at his mom’s ex-profession as a porn actress but then the mom normalises the sitation by saying it’s not that big a deal. The stone that Arputham believed to be his god finally did give him a miracle, which also makes him question his faith. Mugil hates his wife for having an affair but he ends up asking her to do the same thing later to save their lives. As excellently summed up in the end, the movie questions the very definitions of right and wrong and our own core beliefs and morality. No other movie has made me think so much after watching it.
And how great was Yuvan in this! He also blended into Kumararaja’s universe with callbacks to aaranya gaandam at places, excellently remastered sexy Ilayaraja songs fitting aptly to the scenes, Nadhaswaram version of the infamous John William’s star wars theme and nail biting suspenseful music for the intentionally long sexual harassment scenes. It’s incredible how well Yuvan can score given the right platform. He proved this with Peranbu and now with Super Deluxe as well. Along with career best performances from almost everyone on screen, Super Deluxe is a complete package.
Super Deluxe is what you get when true cinema connoisseurs like Thigarajan Kumararaja are given a platform to tell their stories. Pure, unadulterated, raw, non-conforming cinema. With the universe established, now all we can do is watch as Kumararaja unfolds his magnificent stories to us happening in his universe. Super Deluxe asks the answer to the ultimate question of life, universe and everything, and staying true to it’s character, the answer is also hidden in the tag line in one of the movie posters shown in the movie saying ‘Super Deluxe is Life’.