In some ways, I see some similarities between Jordan Peele and Thiagarajan Kumararaja. Both made terrific debuts and when they came back to the silver screen, there was one question. Will this be as good as what they did earlier?
Kumararaja does Peele couldn’t wherein, he has actually made a film that is better than his first one. The cult favorite Aaranya Kaandam remains a classic of the Tamil New Wave. But with Super Deluxe, Kumararaja expands his cinematic universe and we are the lucky ones who get to witness it.
By now you are sure to have come across many write ups about what makes this film wonderful and significant. So, the challenge for me is to find a new way to look at it and to be honest, I’m not sure if I can do that. What I would like to do is comment on a few aspects that make Kumararaja’s films special.
In an interview, the director spoke about his influences and one stood out for me. He spoke about the way people speak and more specifically, the rhythm of dialogue. This is very evident in his two films. They are filled with instantly quotable lines from a variety of characters. Watch out for scenes that have two or more people, the way the dialogues flows through these people is astonishing.
On one level, they feel heightened and cinematic but because they are rooted in realism, the effect is unique. It would be superfluous to call it Tarantinoesque but that is one similarity that we can draw. Another thread that connects Aaranya Kaandam and Super Deluxe is that both make use of multiple story lines that converge at one point or another.
Is it a case of the director liking the randomness of life or is just the way we writes? For now, this will remain a mystery but with more films, we may get a definitive answer.
Also, I cannot think of a director who uses Ilayaraja songs better than Kumararaja. Whether it is being used ironically or as a direct comment on a scene, the choices are fantastic. Super Deluxe has one of the best father son relationships shown on screen. The child actor Ashwanth is simply incredible and this once again can be seen as a continuation of what we saw in Aaranya Kaandam.
Talking about this film without mentioning the performances would be like a Kumararaja film without an Ilayaraja song. In a film filled with unbelievable performances, it is Vijay Sethupathi and Samantha who stand out. Both take bold choices and it pays off spectacularly. Keep an eye on them when they cry. As anyone who has tried acting will tell you, crying in a convincing manner is difficult and both make it seem so natural. A special mention has to be made for Gayathrie who wrings so much emotion with just silence.
The thesis for Aaranya Kaandam can be found in the opening credits whereas Super Deluxe puts this forward at the very end. If you ask the director if this was intentional, he will say it just happened. And perhaps therein lies the secret to Kumararaja as a writer and director. Sometimes a flourish doesn’t have any deep meaning and is simply a flourish. With a flourish like Super Deluxe Thiagarajan Kumararaja earns a new legion of fans and they are sure to have only one request. Please do not wait so long to make another film. I am not sure if I managed to achieve what I wanted to with this piece. But Kumararaja achieves an artistic high point that is revolutionary, incendiary and extraordinary.
Until next time, bye.