Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s Super Deluxe has been everything that Tamil film fans can talk about since it released on March 29. The film has been dissected and discussed not just by critics but by everyone who has seen it so far.
Super Deluxe comes with many layers and references, making fans examine the film again and again. How many times did you spot the words ‘Super Deluxe’ in the film? Where does Singaperumal from Aaranya Kaandam feature in the film?
While the film can be called a visual puzzle, its background score brims with nostalgia-inducing music that has now sent all of us scrambling to rediscover the old songs, especially Ilaiyaraaja's divine music.
Super Deluxe begins with this duet by Ilaiyaraaja composed for his brother Gangai Amaran’s 1992 drama Chinnavar. The original song features Prabhu and Kasthuri dancing on the beach on a bright sunny day while the lines are a breezy ode to the sea and the skies, sung by Swarnalatha and Mano.
‘I am a Disco Dancer’
This funky disco number that is all things retro is the most amusing track one can use for a love-making scene. While we’ve seen all kinds of weird symbolism for sex in Tamil cinema, this one is by far the best - with the camera roving all around the room, out through the window and back again inside, before it comes back to the actors - a lot like the disco ball.
The film’s title, in fact, flashes on a TV screen with this song composed by Bappi Lahiri. The Hindi version was sung by Vijay Benedict for the 1982 Hindi musical drama, Disco Dancer. This gem had Bengali actor Mithun Chakraborty sliding across a dance floor in an attire that could’ve only belonged to the '80s. The film was remade in Tamil, Paadum Vaanampadi, and this version of the song was sung by SP Balasubrahmanyam for Anand Babu. 'I am a Disco Dancer' plays once again when the end credits roll.
This 1986 composition by Ilaiyaraaja for Kamal Haasan’s Vikram is so full of ‘oomph’ that it can turn on anyone singing it, even today when porn is easily available to anyone with an internet connection. While the song portions have been sung by SP Balasubrahmanyam and S Janaki, the exchange ‘Kanne Thottukava? Kattikava?’, that leads into the song is done by Kamal Haasan himself with Janaki adding the flourishes. Thiagarajan-Yuvan’s placement of this song is in one the film’s best moments - when the guy hosting his friends at his house prepares to watch the porn film by singing along with this song first.
This song sung by SP Balasubrahmanyam and composed by Ilaiyaraaja, is once again for Kamal in his 1978 romantic drama Ilamai Oonjal Aadukirathu. 'Ennadi Meenatchi' is something of a cult song and the instrumental version plays in Super Deluxe. Another disco piece, the song appears when Vaembu scrambles to hide the body before Mugil can come home. Turns out, this song happens to be what Mugil’s listening to while he’s climbing up the stairs. Quite the choice of music, given the pickle that Vaembu is in.
If you’re diving head first into retro, your experience isn't complete without 'Mellisai Mannar' MS Viswanathan aka MSV. Super Deluxe honours the ace music composer with a brilliant female solo rendered by P Susheela - 'Thedinen Vandhadu'. The song plays right after the boys break the television set, the line ‘Pen endral dheiva maalligai thiranthu kollaadho’ (A divine palace too would open if it is a woman) blares from a smaller TV set. The original is from the 1967 film Ooty Varai Uravu and has KR Vijaya showing off her sass while Sivaji Ganeshan smokes a cigarette.
This popular song is from Rajinikanth’s 1991 film Dharma Dhurai also starring Gautami. The song, composed by Ilaiyaraaja and rendered by KJ Yesudas and Swarnalatha, is a duet with very suggestive visuals and lyrics, don't let its melody fool you. The scene where this particular song is heard is one of the most defining moments in the film and shows trans woman Shilpa (Vijay Sethupathi) acing the saree draping.
‘Saathu Nada Saathu'
This song’s visuals may have scarred several '90s kids (the author included), with Kazan Khan (Tamil cinema’s wicked villain of the '90s) spraying beer from his mouth while Meena’s character, who was a teacher up until then, dancing to “distract” the villains. While the song’s visuals and lyrics are quite explicit, the film it featured in Sethupathi IPS, starring Vijayakant, Meena and Nambiar, was a family entertainer. 'Saathu Nada Saathu' was composed by Ilaiyaraaja and sung by Asha Bhosle.
This song plays on a TV set when the young boys visit the repair shop and realise that they’ve got old demonetised currency notes.
This mother of all sultry songs is as close as Super Deluxe soundtrack gets to modern times. Taken from SJ Suryah's 2000 hit Kushi, the song was composed by Deva and sung by Vasundra Das, Shankar Mahadevan, Ganga and Sriram. This number plays right when the character Muttapupps struggles to explain which porn film he wants to rent.