The following content has heavy spoilers about the recently released Tamil movie “Super Deluxe”. Read on only if you have watched the film and if you have not watched the film yet, please do.
I loved Super Deluxe. Given how the director’s previous movie was analyzed left, right and center for eight years, this movie is going to be analyzed even more than that in coming days. So I am not here to talk about the direction, casting, music, or the acting. I am just here to talk about what didn’t work for me and I am surprised that nobody gives a shit about it.
Recently there was a transwoman who criticized the way Vijay Sethupathi’s character showcased in the movie, as far as calling him a mentally deranged person. Why? Because the movie uses the dead name of the character, some random guys calling the person as “Uss” “9” all derogatory terms used to address that specific set of people. The anger was genuine. And then there were people who questioned why wasn’t a transgender cast in the role? If I could answer for the director, its because of the script. This movie is not Peranbu, another movie which had a transgender character and it had cast an actual transperson for the role. It worked out brilliantly. So why not here? Let me come to that.
Let us talk about the men in the movie and what feeling do we associate with them.
The voiceover in the title sequence shows a man talking to a woman. The man apparently has financial troubles. Hmm… what can a man who is deep in financial trouble do to make his day better? Go sleep with another man’s wife. And he dies too.
If we show a gang of boys, one boy must be fat or stout. Though he can be cute as hell, he has to be stout to provide comic relief for the fans who would laugh at him every time he tries to do something his lean friends do. Like watching a porn movie, or use the loo or just run. The first scene where they show this person is when he laments that the girl he loves won’t love him back because he cheated her. You don’t feel sorry for him from the moment he appears on the screen.
There is this aspiring actor, who is relatively cool about helping people out in his apartment, tries hard at his craft, comes home only to find out his wife killed another man. Surprisingly, he has less time to feel sorry for himself but to conceal the crime because the society will shame him for a mistake (or non-mistake) his wife committed. And throughout the movie, he is shown as a loser. The audience, particularly and largely men, laughed whenever this character came on screen, which confirmed the actions of the character.
Then there is this inspector Berlin, who might be the creepiest character written in the history of Tamil cinema is always in want of sex. He doesn’t care about the emotions of other people. He doesn’t care about their gender. All he wants is someone to insert his junk on.
Then there is the man who was saved in Tsunami, going on to become a cult leader (a small one, who can be fitted in a room. Naane Saatchi). He forsakes his wife and son and goes on his deranged path only to be advised by his wife later.
Throughout the film, I wasn’t able to find one male character which had a grey shade in it. All of the male characters written are either horny or loser or trying to take advantage of others. Take the watchman of the school, who can’t silence the kids talking shit or the principal of the school, who has nothing to say but no (I found him second creepiest next to the inspector), or the old man in Manickam’s household who thinks that the new woman in the house is someone his grandson married recently or even the man whose TV is broken is shown as abusive father even if he isn’t shown in the screen even once.
There is this guy, who takes slaps by slippers for his friend, ready to kill to help his friend out and runs behind his scooter, helps him steal money to replace the TV is shown as what…. a perpetually horny guy. It was a nice touch that an alien recognizes him as a good person. It is also sad that only an alien could recognize him as a good person.
Coming back to why Vijay Sethupathi is cast as the Transwoman here. The movie is all about women. It is about a woman who sleeps with another man because it feels right to her is stigmatized by her husband and later another person. It is also about a woman who acts in a porn movie and is stigmatized for that by her son and her husband. It is about a man who became a woman and is stigmatized for that very reason. No matter if you are a wife, mother or even a man turned a woman, if you are a woman this society is going to have a scale to measure you. That is the reason a male was cast in the transgender role is my understanding.
I wish such grey came along for the men in the movie too. They are just cardboard characters in the whole movie who don’t want trouble. They just care about them and nobody else.
My question is, how many of you have come across such people? The translady who was angry at the director said, “yes, there are some people does what VJS does in the movie. But we can’t stereotype an entire community because of few people.” I am saying the same. Couldn’t the writer’s find one male character who has a shade of grey if not the white?
The writers didn’t because they thought nobody would care.
And they were right.