Hello folks! Welcome to the first-ever edition of LGBT+ Media Review. This week, I decided to watch the Tamil movie Super Deluxe and I knew I had to review it. Well, the movie is also available on Netflix India. So if you don’t want me to spoil it for you, then here’s the heads up. Go watch it, come back and tell us if you agree with what I thought of the movie.
Super Deluxe is a Tamil movie that was released on 29th March of this year. The movie ties up three parallelly running stories into a final conclusion that provides an end to all the three stories simultaneously. Since we are discussing and reviewing LGBT+ movies, it’s elemental to point out that the entire movie is not LGBT+ centric, but among the three stories, one of them is primarily focused on it.
The story of Manikam comes to us from two lives attached to him. His son Raasu kutti and his wife, Jothi. Raasu Kutti is a young child who is five or six years of age. And Manikam leaves them both around the time Jothi is pregnant with a child. A few years down the lane returns to the house. Jothi and her child are not the only people in the house. Manikam’s mother, grandmother, relatives, aunts, and uncles are all together. And they all eagerly wait for Manikam’s return.
And Manikam does return. In a car, dressed very fashionably, donning a pair of sunglasses. And as Shilpa. Manikam’s transition into a woman aka Shilpa shakes everyone up. Jothi breaks down and is unable to believe what she is seeing. Raasu kutti on the other hand is just excited to have his “father” back. He refers to Shilpa as “Appa” and is ready to take him to his school to introduce him to his friends.
He tells his mother that his father wants to wear the saree with the tassels. Jothi also tells Shilpa that she thought she assumed Manikam as Shilpa was an April Fool’s day prank.
Shame And Fear
As Super Deluxe progresses, Shilpa has to deal with shame and dismissal repeatedly. She tries to keep her spirits up and even tells her son that she earns money by clapping her hands. She does it to a shop-keeper and he hands her a 10 rupee note. Raasu kutti is extremely excited to introduce Shilpa to his classmates. But they tease him saying that his father is a woman. Slowly as time passes, Raasu kutti feels shame and is unsure why people are treating his dad badly. And he runs away.
Shilpa gets into a lot of trouble while trying to find her son. She is stripped of her dignity because she is a transgender woman. She is chased away from places because of her sexual identity. And many assume that Raasu kutti is not her son, and that she kidnapped a child.
The Right Light
Initially, Shilpa is a fierce, and confident transgender woman who has managed to turn things around for herself. But, as the story progresses, the fragility and nuances of being a transgender woman are highlighted beautifully. Shilpa is always trying to put on a brave face for the world around her. She always wants to see the brighter side of things and is hoping things turn out better. When Raasu kutti runs away, Shilpa feels lost and hopeless. She is forced on her knees quite literally. She begs and pleads people to help her. But they take advantage of her situation, are scared of her, or dismiss her.
She eventually returns home only to see Raasu kutti locked in a room. She breaks down crying. Raasu kutti’s attachment to her and the reason for him to run away will melt you into a gooey puddle. The innocence of Raasu kutti and Shilpa is a very vulnerable bond that is directed quite brilliantly. And both of them are victims of societal expectations of sex, gender, and family.
Shilpa loves her son. She loves that he takes accepts her for who she is in his own manner. He is not ashamed of her or not afraid of her. And most importantly he does not ostracize her. Even though he calls her, “appa” which literally means dad, Raasu kutti adores Shilpa.
But Raasu kutti is himself a victim of societal discrimination. As a fatherless child, his classmates and his family tease him. And seeing his mother being pitied and showered with sympathy each day makes him feel weak and incomplete. He is so ecstatic to have a father, that he does not care if his father is a man or a woman. And the climax of their story is such a deep reflection of the bond that he has built with his father even though he has not been around.
Should You Watch Super Deluxe?
Super Deluxe ends with TV dropping which gives the audience a sudden feeling of closure. It will leave you feeling strangely empty but also a sort of unsatisfied relief. But if you were to only observe Manikam/Shilpa’s story, it is heart-wrenching as well as heart-warming. And even if you are not a big crier, the story will still move you deeply.
Super Deluxe is an exceptionally well-executed film. And with the rising awareness about the LGBT+ community, the understanding of the transgender community, specifically, is true to reality. And India has the potential to produce more such masterpieces. It is a definite must-watch. And if you have watched it too, tell us what you think and if something from the movie caught your attention.
See you next week.
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