One film. One decade. One force! The name is Thiagarajan Kumararaja or as we put it with pride and pleasure, the Director of Aaranya Kaandam. Countless accolades and analyses continue to engulf his debut and over all these years, such discussions have kept us strangely intimate with the movie, its nuances, its inspirations and definitely its maker.
Even amidst this busy schedule of revisiting, revising and reading the neo noir, our hearts were filled with an exceeding lust to hear and witness more stories from the most exciting story teller of today who remarks that he leads "an almost eventless life".
Well, his stories form the eventful elevation in our otherwise mundane lives and we shall unabashedly celebrate him for having delivered to us the best with a brilliance that is both bewitching and brisk.
Kumararaja had said in an interview," I can watch the same film over and over. I have the same orgasm watching the same film a hundred times!" The self same orgasm hits us crazy while watching Super Deluxe trailer over and over again. It is an Euphoria! A sense of adventurous triumph that follows after a rollercoaster ride .The anticipation has now become an addiction.
The rollercoaster is a nearly perfect analogy to Kumararaja himself who is introverted and calm as a person but racy and rapturous in profession. The rides however not frequent are irresistible when it takes off.
Kumararaja's supposedly aimless wandering in the jungle of life brings us stories - smart and smashing. Not all those who wander are lost .His wandering through the woods is a convenient elucidation for the connection his tales share with the wild. With Aaranya Kaandam, he chronicled the battle amid the animals, inspired and labeled by Ramayana’s jungle episode, empowered with his screenplay genius.
We had the prominent characters named after various animals whose qualities they ironically personified. It is not precise but ironic, that is the poetry of it. It teases you, it teaches you. An extension of the jungle touch arouses us in the Super Deluxe trailer with the massive monologue rooted in an individual's disastrous journey through the mountainous woods.
The torments are added with a chasing tiger, betraying tree, venomous snake while the sole solace is the drop of honey which the helpless relishes with an "Ah - haa" that momentously translates to us multiplied in energy. “Your film is that drop of honey, Sir!” I wanted to tell him.
WHAT IS IN A NAME?
Highly intrigued by his modes of naming the characters, I tried sneaking a glimpse over a few characters from Super Deluxe - Shilpa played by Vijay Sethupathi, Vembu by Samantha Ruth Prabhu, Mughil by Fahad Fazil and Arputham by Mysskin besides a powerful lot of potent performers.
The name “Shilpa" primarily denotes a sculpture or anything that is perfectly created, an interestingly ironic name to a transgender who the imperfect society shamelessly condemns as a flaw and a foul. The name also denotes a rock and what you can make of the rock is up to you! Hence, who Shilpa is will depend on the beholder .Her endurance is also highlighted by the name.
As Michelangelo says," Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it ". Waiting to witness how Kumararaja has sculpted Shilpa with Vijay Sethupathi post his dazzling discovery of her.
Vembu - refers to a neem tree and instantly brings to the mind the medicinal features this plant species possesses beneath the bitterness. Vembu is a middle class arts student, bold and unbridled in the words of Kumararaja. The name hints at her features that help in the heal amidst all travail and the known versatility of the neem tree can't help one from contemplating if there are multiple dimensions to her character. The thick green neem tree extends to us its soothing shade - she might be one to the film or one of its characters.
Mughil denotes a rain cloud. The character named Mughil played By Fahad Fazil is an aspiring actor. He might be holding all his agony, anxiety and helplessness within him, growing darker alike the clouds. He can either shower with a breeze or thunder with a storm which we have to wait to watch.
Mysskin who has also co written the film plays Arputham, one of the most amusingly named characters in the film for the name actually means ' wonder'. Nowhere in the trailer does Mysskin give us a hint of such an emotion but its extreme opposite - shock and dread. The irony!
Kumararaja initially wanted to name this multi-starrer magna “Aneedhi Kathaigal" - the immoral stories. The stories we heard and saw growing up had a mandatory moral while Kumararaja experiments with the unconventional surface of immorality and this piques our interests even when he modestly states that the film is about ordinary people set in extraordinary situations. He chose against the title since he didn't want to condition his viewers. As they say the difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary is that little extra. Kumararaja has always gone through the distance of the distinct extra endearing his work to us as something special to look up to.
The monologue mode of narrative in the trailer of Super Deluxe is a delightful similarity to that of Aaranya Kaandam's where Guru Somasundaram who plays Kaalayan narrates the story introducing to us the characters in a frisky folk touched dialect .Here in Super Deluxe we get intriguing insights on the story base and philosophy with Sethupathi's monologue.
While only shades of black and yellow formed the compelling and uniquely catchy poster of Aaranya Kaandam, Super Deluxe's is flamboyant and the trailer itself is many- hued. While I was engrossed in the radiant color vibe of the trailer, a keen friend pointed out a few posters in a frame with the three boys. One was that of Kill Bill - the renowned Tarantino masterpiece while a notable other was of David Lynch, an American Director widely known for his masterful neo- noir mystery “Mulholland Drive”. In various interviews, Kumararaja has added on how he writes his dialogues, grasping the voice meter and musicality of speech which a Tarantino fan attributes to the genius writer. This quest for the voice meter has brought Kumararaja valuable and interesting additions to the cast.
Instances of this sort indicate the inspiration our master has been subject to. His work that owns an individualistic influence throughout is infused with irreplaceable worldly wise elements. Yes, he thinks global and acts local!
THE PIONEER AND POWER
In these nine years, a couple of his stories were scrapped (to our misfortune) and now he is back with his own spirits and funds. It is regretful to note a scenario where creators are not backed by adequate currencies with a very few countable exceptions .This state ought to alter bringing in robustness to the cinema we love and live by , enriching prodigies as Kumararaja and the alike.
Not many makers I recall have had this massive reception as he had in a second directorial. Maybe, this is the right way to make up to him as a quite lot of us were ignorant of the intelligence intensity he lit up the screen with in his debut, emerging as the precursor of a new wave in Tamil Cinema.
An American versatilist says," Your talent is your art. It is not to be taken for granted”. We are not going to take his genius to be granted as a lot did a decade back .Time to celebrate with striking grandeur. Celebrating Kumararaja and his work has brought us cherish and wisdom and will continue extending the same. His Super Deluxe is hitting millions boosted with the electrifying tempo of Yuvan. Kumararaja must be buoyant but this remarkable man is insanely balanced. Hope he tells more stories in strides unconventional and intriguing.
As the release is widely awaited, Kumararaja’s words ring in the ears - words he wrote for Vijay Sethupathi in Balaji Tharaneetharan’s Seethakathi .I attribute the words of the song to the lyricist himself with no qualms but elation.
" Munum Ithan Pinum
Innai illaathoru Vinai aatra
Kotum Vilikatum Kalai Arangeridum"
- Thiagarajan Kumararaja