By Barath S. (L&T RBG)
‘Super Deluxe (2019)’ is Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s second feature after ‘Aaranya Kaandam (2010)’, which was a critic’s darling. Super Deluxe (available on Netflix) is about four stories that are layered and interwoven together. The stories themselves are strange and stunning. A couple bonds in the presence of a corpse. A family unites over a son discovering his mother’s ‘shameful’ past. A victimized trans-woman learns she’s not the only victim in her story. These stories overlap, but not in the conventional ways of our Indian cinema.
Kumararaja seems to rejoice the genre-hopping by connecting interrelated themes and subjects. The film begins as a black comedy and ends like a dramedy on life and spirituality. But it also goes beyond just giving us entertaining stories with a motley cast of characters. It raises larger questions and puts you in an ethical dilemma where you take sides; judge the characters; become petty, which is why the film’s working title, ‘Aneedhi Kadhaigal (Amoral Stories)’, would have been just as good a fit.
The intelligent screenplay and the slick editing ensure that you never get bored all through the near 3 hour film. The camera does exactly what is required of it, providing us perspective and not just mere showy visual with fancy angles. It is so wonderful to sit through a Tamil film with so many silent frames. There is background music/noise only when it is absolutely necessary that adds to what we’re watching on screen.
If you watch and listen carefully, you can find a lot of Easter Eggs and tribute to Hollywood.
Super Deluxe is far more ambitious, brave and far less instantly gratifying. It’s a long, slow fuse that keeps you on edge about when it will explode, and when it does, it’s a big bang; or perhaps, The Big Bang..!!
Super Deluxe is an unique, insanely detailed, blessedly amoral drama, that will open new doors of possibility for Indian cinema. It may well be that the industry, which is already seeing a bit of successful experimentation, is stepping into the Deluxe age.