When Thiagarajan Kumararaja made Aranya Kandam about decade back he struggled to get the censors clear it. Acclaimed in cine-fests abroad, it was a struggle to release it theatrically and the audience could not comprehend it; though the treatment got the critics raving. Over the next few years the movie achieved cult-classic fame and is one of the most torrented Tamil films. Consider it as a badge of honour!
In this intervening period of eight years, we have heard several rumours but nothing was confirmed. TK had a story/screenplay credit for GVM’s “Yennai Arindhal”. Roughly a year ago there was confirmed news that he was working on a multi-starrer and we kept getting some bits and pieces of information about the project. But when the actual trailer arrived, we were shocked to see Vijay Sethupathi playing a transgender character, in his avatar he looks surprisingly like Sharath Kumar from the first or was it the second movie in the Kanchana franchise.
The movie grabs your attention from the first frame. It seems to have been shot in the narrow lanes of the Mint area of Madras and the highway stretching towards Ennore. We see a motley collection of characters, a bunch of teens looking to watch a porn movie at home, a kid and his extended family waiting for the man of the house to return from Mumbai, a beautiful young woman preparing for a romantic rendezvous with her ex-lover. How these individual tales merge is the cinematic experience that’s ‘Super Deluxe’.
The movie has a lot of darkness or rather a yellow-hued shot treatment throughout, even the scees in daylight, do not seem to be filled with warmth and light. One kid seems to spot his mother going by the mole on the shoulder of the lady in the porn movie and shatters the screen of the LCD TV and runs out in anger to stab his mother but instead stabs himself as he slips and falls. There are a bunch of people waiting for a prayer-healer/faith-healer ‘Arputham’ who was saved in the Tsunami disaster that took a lakh of people to their death, though he alone survived a miracle-man! The young woman Vembu’s sexual escapade ends in the death of her ex-lover and she is forced to hide the body in the refrigerator. Her husband Mughilan/Mughil returns and is gob-smacked by the calm confession of his wife and they plan to dispose the body. The kids who have lost the TV need to replace it with another TV and seek to find a way to make a quick buck to finance their project. The family waiting for the long-missing man from Mumbai gets the shock of their lives when he returns as a woman. He has undergone a gender-change operation.
The kid who accidentally stabs himself is rushed to the hospital and money is needed for the surgery. The kid’s mother is forced to contact Arputham whose real name is Dhanashekar and is the boy’s father. Arputham/DS is confused and terrified as he prays to his Andavar to save his boy and takes the boy to his rundown flat and smears water on the wound and prays for deliverance. The local area counselor is brought in to take the boy back to the hospital for treatment. Money, money is the key and everyone is helpless in trying to find money.
The little boy is fascinated by his father who has returned as a woman and takes him along to school to prove to everyone that he is not a ‘test-tube baby’. A constable spots them and considers that a transgender has kidnapped a boy and they are taken to the police station. The duty inspector a depraved and villainous chap forces himself on Shilpa the’ new woman’.
I have already revealed a fair bit of the story. No more spoilers. Does the boy manage to survive the stabbing? How does the young couple dispose the corpse? What happens to Shilpa and the kid? DO the teens find a way to make money to buy a new TV? Does Arputham/DS get money to save his son? Or does Andavar bless and cure his son without surgery?
Plus there is an interesting closing credits sequence that involves an acclaimed novelist spouting out philosophy, life, and all about creation and desire then the disco gem from the eighties plays.
For answers to all your questions and an ‘extraordinary twist’ that is out of this world, please do go watch Super Deluxe in the theatre. This is a cinematic experience that needs to be celebrated and will go down in the annals of Indian cinema as a modern classic.