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SUPER DELUXE (Tamil) - Working on the same pattern of his first film, Kumararaja yet again delivers a bold and exciting thriller that deserves to be seen for its performances led by the impeccable Vijay Sethupathi. (Review by Bobby Sing)

06 Apr, 2019 | Indian Regional language Gems (Other Than Hindi) / Movie Reviews / 2019 Releases

The film begins with a male and a female voice talking on phone and as the scene progresses we hear Bappi Lahiri's ‘I am a Disco Dancer’ playing in the backdrop. The song and the camerawork together prepares you for something mischievous coming ahead, which rightly comes within the next 10 minutes itself, beginning a funny-absurd yet meaningful ride with several interesting characters titled SUPER DELUXE.
But instead of moving further, would like to share the frame of mind I was in before watching the film and how it disappointed and impressed together as a 3 hours long journey dealing with several social and moral issues.
Director Thyagarajan Kumararaja’s AARANYA KAANDAM (2011) was a remarkable debut as an outstanding song-less film with an exceptional edit which was also awarded two National Awards for Best Editing and Best First Film of a Director in 2012. The film was ruthlessly real and raw, but at the same time also lacked the entertainment quotient, restricting its viewership to only niche audience, interested in such innovative experimental cinema heavily relying on its characters along with the technical aspects. It had its issues of a familiar premise, a slow start and some over the top acts too, but largely remained a highly impressive show by a debutant director and his team without any slightest of doubt.
(Interested friends can read the complete review of AARANYA KAANDAM (2011) at the following link)
Therefore I was highly excited to see the second attempt by the director coming after 8 years that is certainly a long gap even after making a National Award winning film. Whatever might have been the reasons behind that, I was pretty sure that the man will definitely present something fresh and novel once again as seen in his first film.
Thankfully Kumararaja delivers the expected novel content, but only partially (in terms of incidents and fresh characterisations), as he strangely comes up with a film made on exactly similar ‘neo-noir/pulp-fiction’ kind of pattern used in his first much acclaimed attempt, which was frankly not expected, at least by myself. So the same song-less template of showcasing four different storylines running parallel to each other and then getting merged in the end asking a common spiritual or social question disappointed me to be honest, since I was there to watch something completely different from what the talented director had already used and displayed in his first film.
To be specific, following the same ‘tried-before’ pattern, where in AARANYA KAANDAM he raised a question, What is Dharma? - In SUPER DELUXE he asks, What is morality or What’s the difference between moral and immoral and What is basis of their distinction in our society or by an individual?
Hence in a way, SUPER DELUXE is a much bold, brave and experimental extension of AARANYA KAANDAM, but nothing entirely new or fresh in terms of either conceptualization or thought-process. May be the director is on the way of making a series, or a trilogy as it seems.
The second disappointing feature of the film is its overstuffed structure stressing on funny absurdities of life, roping in too many characters and raising so many issues together that never explode on the screen as they should have. In fact the only character that successfully manages to stand out is of Vijay Sethupathi, bringing in both shock and awe together reaching out to the end user (discussed in details later). Otherwise most of them just remain on the surface and rarely able to make an instant connect with the viewer as desired. Particularly the one unrequired segment of the film as a science fiction, simply fails to work and could have been easily avoided making it shorter in length and more to the point.

Moving over to the merits, 
the three hours long film has a lot of entertaining chaos, with moments of black comedy dealing with characters ranging from teenagers to middle aged people. There are absurd yet funny moments talking about sex as seen by all the age groups, about double standards of our society, about the relationship between a married couple and their extramarital affairs, about the constant struggle of a transgender fighting for the dignity, about superstitions spread in the name of religion, about blind faith and about life on other planets too giving you a fair idea, without revealing any details.
Excelling in the technical departments, as expected it’s an extremely well-made film with a superfine cinematography showcasing many worth-noticing frames and lighting. The art-design, sound structure and background score gels perfectly well with the narration as required, especially in the sequences revolving around Vijay. And then the finale raises many valid questions about the double standard knowingly practiced in our society since ages when it comes to gender discrimination, sex, prostitution, marriage, love, faith and religion. 
The performances are all top-notch and this time I also couldn’t find any over the top act taking it one step further from Kumararaja’s debut film. Everyone performs beautifully in their given roles including Fahadh, Ramya Krishnan, Mysskin, Gayathri, the gang of young boys and others. But two actors who stand out from the rest are Samantha as the lady caught in a weird situation and the six years old kid Ashwanth, who is adorable as the son waiting for his father.
Having said that, SUPER DELUXE actually overcomes its every hurdle belonging to only one actor alone and he is Vijay Sethupathi who dares to perform as a transgender and does it with such conviction and perfection which can simply be explained as ‘Extraordinarily Unbelievable’ and nothing else.
At the peak of his highly successful career, Vijay amazingly dares to play a transgender and that too as one of the characters and not lead in a film with other actors taking the limelight enacting multiple storylines. This not only needs guts but a vision too displaying a rare commitment towards your work and a commendable understanding of how to find new highs in it taking the maximum risk. Hence post VIKRAM VEDHA and 96, my respect for Vijay as an actor increases many folds, experiencing his unforgettable act in SUPER DELUXE.
Frankly cannot even think of a Bollywood Star attempting the same in a film in the present era, which is a point to be seriously studied as ironically it was Hindi Cinema which earlier bravely did this, decades back in SADAK featuring Sadashiv Amrapurkar, TAMANNA featuring Paresh Rawal and DAAYRA featuring Nirmal Pandey besides Arif Zakaria in DARMIYAAN in the ‘90s. But then that was a different Hindi Cinema altogether, not even close to the present 'product-market' to be honest.
Coming back to Vijay Sethupati, his Shilpa is sincerely realistic and heartbreaking together making a strong emotional connect with the viewer after a few initial sequences. Such is the impact of the character and its portrayal by both Vijay and his director, that after a while you start praying that ‘Oh God! Please don’t do that to her. Please don’t make her suffer more!’ - which simply put is a cinematic triumph witnessed after a long time. 
The way Vijay says his lines - the sound of him calling ‘Rasukutty’ (his son’s name) repeatedly in a soft tone is truly heart-wrenching and brings tears to your eyes. Personally I was also literally praying in the scenes related with Vijay and the kid, as I didn’t wish them to face any more traumas further. In short, this is one text-book kind of performance that deserves all the applauses and should reach the maximum lovers of cinema all over the world. In fact, I can imagine how deeply satisfied Vijay must have felt performing this exceptionally graceful act breaking the set parameters.
As a film, yes SUPER DELUXE struggles in some sections and becomes a bit long too asking some moral and spiritual questions in a forceful manner. However it still remains a must watch for its other worth-experiencing merits and technical excellence for sure and should not be missed.  
Sharing my own belief and philosophy about life and its various events, “Either every single act happening in our lives has a specific meaning or all these acts have no meaning at all and they all appear randomly as a game being played. The second option always appears to me as more logical and believable to be very honest.”
Summing up, even if you are not interested in any such moral or spiritual questions or philosophy of life, just go for SUPER DELUXE as an absurdly entertaining experience full of quirky characters. And if not even that, then go for just Vijay Sethupathi alone and amaze yourself.
Rating : 3.5 + 0.5 / 5 (with the additional 0.5 for just Vijay Sethupathi and his stunning, flawless act)
Note: Interestingly you get to see two insertions of the title reference in the film. One you see an ice-cream vendor with the brand Super Deluxe and then a theater is named Super Deluxe (as I recall). 

Tags : SUPER DELUXE (Tamil) Review by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, New Tamil Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, Indian Regional Cinema Gems, Not To Be Missed Indian Regional Language Cinema, Must Watch Tamil Films, Vijay Sethupathi excels as a transgender
06 Apr 2019 / Comment ( 3 )
Ashok Sridharan

To this review, I might add one moment of pure brilliance from this movie which stand out in the memory. I nearly fell off my chair laughing at that one- which must have been missed by non-Tamil speakers.

The scene where the movie cuts to the interval with the boys' handler hanging upside down: the sticker on his T-Shirt reads 'Fuck'. The sticker is printed upside down. I must confess that I found it quite odd, until that scene appeared on screen.

There's another point which might have possibly been lost in translation: the Sub-Inspector Berlin tells Mugil that he could just as well satisfy his lust with him (Mugil)- a not too subtle hint that he is bisexual

Bobby Sing

Dear Ashok Sridhran,
Thanks a lot for adding more to the review, stating the things which certainly would have missed by people watching it with English subtitles.
Really appreciate the addition.
Do keep visiting and writing in.

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