Super Deluxe is a slow-burning drama that finishes with a flourish and raises some existential questions.
Thiagarajan Kumaraja’s first movie Aaranya Kandam was an underground cult sensation that didn’t get the recognition it deserved. Thanks to the inspired casting of Vijay Sethupathy, better marketing and the stamp of approval bestowed by critics, Super Deluxe has generated enough buzz to reach a much bigger audience.
Super Deluxe is an anthology of seemingly random, but interwoven stories, featuring a stellar ensemble cast. There is a recently married couple (Samantha and Fahad Fazil) trapped in a failing marriage, a gang of teenagers who want to watch a porn movie, a former porn actress (Ramya Krishnan) coming to grips with a religious zealot of her husband (Myskin), and a doting wife (Gayathri) awaiting the return of her husband (Vijay Sethupathy), who returns as a transgender. There is also a corrupt cop whose sleazy activities, while making your skin crawl, crisscross through the different storylines.
The director parades a plethora of pop culture references, making a rewatch essential just for Easter Egg hunting. There are delightful nods to his first movie, including airplanes in the sky and a key hanging in the car. I badly wanted to pause and zoom a scene featuring a wall plastered with posters, and examine each one carefully. I loved the Carnatic rendition of the Star Wars theme. Even the subtitles were very creative in translating crass dialogues for a wider audience. (More Star Wars!)
Branded with an “A” certificate, Super Deluxe can afford to be uncompromisingly dark, but it’s at this juncture that the director gets a little carried away. With almost 3 hours of runtime, the movie feels overlong at times. The scenes featuring the corrupt cop, portrayed rather well by Bagavathy Perumal, could have steered clear of repetitive clichés. While the warehouse sequence provides both Samantha and Fahad an opportunity to showcase their acting chops, the buildup was just way too overlong. There’s a supernatural twist at the end that feels slightly out of place, but helps shepherd the movie to a logical conclusion, and also raises some thought-provoking questions.
While the film’s core message on equality was rather explicit, it also brilliantly explores existentialism, the idea that our lives are nothing but a series of random events. It’s a difficult idea to eschew, even as your mind connects the many dots and patterns in the movie. But when the camera takes to the sky and gives us a sweeping big-picture view of the lives of our motley bunch of characters, our preconceived notions are shattered and it all makes startling sense. I cannot remember the last time, if ever there was one, when a Tamil movie raised so many existential questions about the very meaning of life.