Story & Narration
Technical Aspects & Music
An unconventional, mostly rewarding cinematic experience!
Thiyagarajan Kumararaja’s latest offering is a whimsical, strenuously carried-out ride that opens up the Pandora’s Box and leaves the explorations and explanations for yourself to fathom.
Cast: Vijay Sethupathi, Fahadh Faasil, Samantha, Mysskin, Ramya Krishnan, Bagavathi Perumal, Gayathrie & others
Cinematography: Nirav Shah
Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja
Editing: Sathyaraj Natarajan
Screenplay: Mysskin, Nalan Kumarasamy, Neelan K Sekar, Thiagarajan Kumararaja
Directed by: Thiyagarajan Kumararaja
Release Date: 29-03-2019
Run Time: 02:56:00
Eight years after the highly acclaimed Aaranya Kaandam, Thiyagarajan Kumararaja returns with his sophomore filmmaking effort in Super Deluxe. And his latest film, at least for some parts, feels like another brother of his first outing, with the fact that it is developed to a deeper stage and is more eccentric on the whole. While first suggestions labeled Super Deluxe as an anthological film, the end product here belongs to the club of hyperlink cinema. What we get to see is a mad, mysterious, mindful and partly magical ride that is a trippy tribute to films, life and everything in between.
It is definitely not an easy job to talk about the film without revealing spoilers, but that would take away the main intent of the director to hide his Easter eggs between the walls of his different stories. Thiagarajan Kumararaja skillfully packs his narrative with intriguing characters and wicked situations that overlap each other ultimately. Handpicking rare societal beings who are torn between the good and the bad, he brings in a newfound perspective of understandings and taboos held by people and the mindsets surrounding us. Despite the story travelling on multiple tracks throughout, the film offers a seamless narrative with clear arcs set up for even the smallest of faces involved. The establishment of the plot takes place right from the title sequence, where Kumararaja makes use of a phone conversation to kick off proceedings. Every little turn in the film seems to make it better and better, but unfortunately, this smoothness only exists until the end of the first half. This is a point from where the film has to take some very important decisions with the route that it will follow, but the lack of cohesiveness slowly starts to hit in as the chronicles continue thereon. Despite the film’s positive and heartening culmination, the final hour ends up as a mixed bag of both pretentious and whacky moves.
In one of his most shocking and gutsy choices of his career, Vijay Sethupathi is incredible as the transwoman Shilpa, an individual who is troubled by his gender changeover and finds it hard to come into terms with life in general. His portion is easily the best part of the film, and boy does the actor do full justice to the role. It is a really a big doubt if any other actor would dare to take up this part, but what’s more important in the context of this step, is the social commentary that Kumararaja influences through the character and its path. Tamil cinema, in recent times, has paved an expectedly respectable road for the transgender community, but this film takes it by the horns and gives us both visuals and talk topic that we haven’t witnessed on screen yet. Up next in line is Ramya Krishnan’s circle, which begins on a very detestable image for her, but then travels beautifully with the emotional turmoil being translated wonderfully despite Mysskin’s non-performance. One might have to wait until the very end to understand her space in full, but Kumararaja once again scores by making it worthwhile. The portions with Samantha, Fahadh Faasil and their predicament are two-toned, to say the least. While the start-up definitely feels terrific, the riot with the third character is overstretched and should have been more concise. However, the eccentric state of Fahadh’s common man sensibilities pit against Samantha’s tender but straightforward behavior take it through with minimal lags. The fourth and the non-starry segment featuring the four boys is the lighter vein of the film, but again, Kumararaja does not bring it back to the same place where it started and has a surprise in store there.
And of course, the director’s unusual vision would not have been brought forward right, if not for the splendid cinematography that makes every frame look like a painting. It is quite obvious that a lot of thought has gone into how the film will ‘look’, be it the camera angles, the countless number of single takes, the grading and even the colors of the paint in each of the houses. Musically too, Yuvan Shankar Raja pins in an eclectic score that is yet another hero in the narrative. Kumararaja’s love for Ilaiyaraaja is also nicely stitched in, as cover versions balance out the usage of yesteryear’s chart-busters.
Coming out of the film, one does notice the long list of things than can be appreciated, but the fact that the film could have been tighter to its goals cannot be written away. The uneven structure of the second half does take a toll, making it a parts-greater-than-whole experience altogether. Nevertheless, Kumararaja’s latest offering is a whimsical, strenuously carried-out ride that opens up the Pandora’s Box and leaves the explorations and explanations for yourself to fathom.