Super Deluxe (or Aneethi Kathaigal) – Movie Review

Movie: Super Deluxe (or Aneethi Kathaigal)
Genre: Dark Comedy
Cast: Vijay Sethupathi (Shilpa / Manikam), Gayathrie (Jyothi), Ashwanth (Rasukutty), Fahadh Faasil (Mugilan), Samantha Akkineni (Vembu), Ramya Krishnan (Leela), Mysskin (Arputham / Dhanasekaran), Bagavathi Perumal (Berlin)
Manushyaputhiran (Doctor)
Director: Thiagarajan Kumararajan
Cinematography: Nirav Shah , P S Vinod
Music: Yuvan Shankar Raja
Screenwriters: Thiagarajan Kumararajan, Nalan Kumarasamy, Neelan K. Sekar and Mysskin
Language: Tamil
Overall Stars: 5 out of 5

Trailer of Super Deluxe

Recommend that you watch the movie before reading any further.

Super Deluxe is set with multiple narratives, all weaving into one in the end, by sheer coincidence.

Narrative 1: We see Mugil-Vembu, a married husband-wife couple trying to dispose the body of Vembu’s ex-lover from college, who dies when they both were having a private moment in the bed.
Narrative 2: A group of 5 amorous teenagers decide to watch a porn film — only to realise that one of their mothers, Leela is cast as the lead porn actress.
Narrative 3: Leela’s husband Dhanasekaran converts his identity to Arputham after a near-death experience with Tsunami. He lives alone and propagates his faith to near and dear ones in the vicinity.
Narrative 4: Jyothi and her son Rasukutty await the arrival of Manickam — the man of the household, who abandoned them nearly 8 years ago. While the entire family prepare Jyothi to expect another woman in her husband’s life, on the day of arrival, everyone is shocked and surprised to meet Manickam transformed into Shilpa, a trans-woman.

The entire story flows through seamlessly raising hard-hitting questions on life, relationships, religion, society, political governance, gender equality, aliens and more importantly on human tendencies at the core of it. As an auteur, Thiagarajan paints a similar message from Aaranya Kaandam that there is no right or wrong – nice use of Blues / Greens or Red to denote this. Everything is seen with a perspective and based on context.

Super Deluxe paints the entire Tamil Cinema universe in glimpses. Vembu’s ex-lover looks almost similar to Arjun Reddy. Manickam turned Shilpa is asked what he was doing in Bombay. Arputham calls his faith text as – Anjathey Nambu. If coincidence and storytelling are backbone of this movie, it fits in pretty well right?

The story also intertwines interesting song references to build intensity as well as feed on audience’s familiarity — by using Viswanathan- Ramamoorthy‘s Pal Vannam Paruvam, super duper hit songs of Maestro Ilaiyaraaja including Anthiyile Vaanam, Vanithaamani, Maasi Maasam, Ennadi Meenatchi, Saathu Nada Saathu and Bappi Lahiri‘s I am a Disco Dancer.

Thiagarajan proves yet again with his compelling narrative structure – heavily inspired by Film-maker Alejandro González Iñárritu. Super-deluxe, as the name suggests is grand, awesome and worth the fun ride.

Kailash Yatra 2017

Kailash.

The first time I heard about Kailash was while I was still a toddler. My grandparents always mentioned about visiting Kailash and attaining mukti. As I was growing up, a number of times, people from various walks of life mentioned about their inner calling to make it to Kailash Yatra.

I have heard from many a people on how it’s intense and rigorous to visit Kailash early on, say even until 10 years ago. One aunty spoke about her Yatra for over 36 days – 18 days to make the ascent journey and another 18 to return home safely.

One day, in early 2015, I heard about Kailash once again. With my already mapped picture of Kailash, I jumped with joy to visit this sacred space, sometime in my lifetime and left at it.

Then, a new chapter “Marriage” happened around December 2016. Sriram (my husband) too had this intent to visit Kailash for a variety of reasons, but somehow got skipped a few times, he planned the yatra.

Around March end last year (in 2017), I had all the eagerness to visit Kailash and Sriram instantly gave a nod. We decided to do this yatra with Isha Foundation’s Sacred Walks.

Followed by some process:

  • Form submission in the link – https://www.sacredwalks.org/application-form/
  • Once Isha Foundation confirms your candidature to the Yatra (based on your application form), they will share a series of Medical Fitness tests that one needs to conduct and share the results with them. Only, if deemed fit, we would be permitted into the Yatra.
  • Sriram and I had a decent lifestyle – includes yoga, running, cross fitness, healthy food habits (mostly home cooked food), so we didn’t have much of a change here. One change we incorporated was to drink more water than we did generally for over a month – just before our Yatra scheduled in August.
  • I am going to intentionally skip talking about the cost or money involved to make this Yatra happen. 1. Because, I strongly believe that cost should not come in one’s way while making a Yatra of significance. 2. It’s not fixed, it will definitely vary from year to year and it definitely varies depending on who you want to do this Yatra with. So, its best left to the reader to figure this out. =)

Experience:

2 days before the trip, I had jitters. Either, it was Diamox (A tablet that helps you deal with altitude sickness. Believe me, you wouldn’t need it if you are regular with your deep breathing and yoga practices) or simply the reality that kicked in. I almost sank myself into work that week and was definitely not very confident about my own self doing the Yatra. I even told Sriram that he should proceed with the Yatra and definitely not stay back in Chennai, if I end up being terribly sick / unwell.

I was fine and we had our backpacks ready. All of our trip’s essentials were bought from Decathlon, Perungudi / Padur, Chennai.

August 10th – Chennai to Delhi (India)
I was already excited about the trip and there began my real Yatra story.

August 11th – Delhi (India) to Kathmandu (Nepal)
We arrived at Kathmandu and I almost instantly fell in love with this place. Since we reached a day earlier, we had booked our accommodation at Gaju Suite, Thamel Marg, Kathmandu. Both of us explored nearby shops, got our currency converted into Chinese Yuan for the Yatra, bought some rain jackets for Sriram, got some fruits and walked a bit around Thamel, enjoying the drizzle.

August 12th – Radisson Hotel, Lazimpat, Kathmandu, Nepal
We reached Radisson around 12 noon and were greeted with beautiful “Namaste-s” and warm smile. We met Kumaran anna and Ramya akka – who helped us with getting our room, Duffle bags and the entire Yatra kit. They also promptly mentioned about the schedule for the day. Repacking only essentials for Yatra in the Duffle bags, followed by Lunch, Sathsang with Sadguru (Jaggi Vasudev) and Dinner.

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August 13th – August 23rd 2017

The Journey:
Kathmandu (2 days) – Lhasa (Tibet / now China) (1 day) – Xhigatse (1 day) – Saga (1 day) – Manasarovar (2 days) – Kailash (2 days) – Kailash Basecamp (1 day) – Saga (1 day) – Xhigatse (1 day) – Lhasa (1 day) – Kathmandu

Exactly a year ago. We were at Kathmandu, with a final check list of necessary things we needed to take. And had a brilliant dinner with a huge spread. Wrapped the night with medicines and gone deep into sleep with excitement, jitters and all at once.

The following morning, I quickly ate some fruits and the entire team departed sharp at 6am.

We arrived at Kathmandu airport and departed to Lhasa (Tibet). On our arrival at Lhasa, I realised that the Chinese women at the immigration were super efficient and we didn’t get our passports stamped for obvious reasons.

The bus, that would be our home for the next 2 weeks was awaiting us and it was sparkling clean like a new bus. Sriram and I looked at each other and smiled for actually doing this. The sherpa (caretaker/everything to us during the trip) gave us instructions on do-s and don’t-s for the journey ahead and asked all of us “to-be”.

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Getting to know others in our bus, managing high altitude sickness, chanting together, expression of kindness in all forms was our routine everyday. At every pit stop, we spent a day or two to get used to the shift in altitude and thus thinning of air to manage our breathing etc.

As we transcended into our journey and took higher steps in terms of the altitude, it was as well the best means to understand myself in every aspect. My physical health was constantly in check and how I coped it – with my mental strength and help of fellow friends in the yatra was truly a humbling experience. Every time, I felt this is it, I found hope and support from means that I least expected.

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When at Manasarovar, I felt like I could stay there forever. The early morning view of sunrise and swans taking its dip in the lake, the steady water stream and the ripples, the pebbles along the lake and of course the view of Kailash from Manasarovar made it all special. When asked to take a dip in the lake (around 06:30am or so), I was like, really? Is this even possible by me? And guess what – I stayed in the Lake longer than I had expected. It felt very surreal and magical.

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And finally, we were at our ultimate milestone – “Kailash”. It was a solitary journey filled with all sorts of conversation between me and the mighty mountains. The mountains shook me up, broke me down, made me ecstatic, helped me open up and made me experience life’s essence – that at the end, we all are a dust particle, we all are a dust particle and that too an insignificant one 🙂

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Memories flash by and my gratitude goes back to Rajalakshmi patti, Ramya Akka, Gayathri Akka, Subha Akka, Divya Akka, Pawan Anna, Michael Anna, Kumaran Anna, Sriram (my husband), Suresh Anna, JP anna, Kim Cho (our driver) and every single person whom I encountered during the trip.

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Pictures credit: Michael Varun Anna

Tataastu.

To sir, with love.

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Disclaimer: TL; DR.

Thatha – a major influence in my life is no more and I have a lot to say.
He was mostly my guru, shared all that he knew musically unconditionally – not just with me, but with all his students. He made all of us complete individuals and gave us exposure beyond what we could imagine at that tender age.
He was mostly stern with me, when it came to classes and practice sessions. Instances I recollect that I’d get a share of unpleasantaries for fellow students making mistakes while singing. It used to be a rigourous 6-8 hours session per day. To compensate for his rigor, my paati would pamper all of us with delicacies and gratifying words.

Between 1998 and 2005, I’d participate in singing competitions across various sabhas in Chennai. And, by chance if thatha appeared as a judge, I know I have no chance of winning – even if I gave my best. Fellow musicians in the judging panel would encourage my performance whilst Thatha would find a gazillion mistakes in my performance – starting from the posture, to shruti, to kala pramanam, to diction and raga bhavam.

Almost until my early 20s, I’d blindly follow whatever he’d say. Because I knew nothing other than that. To support his views, my parents would never come in the way. And those years helped me see a person beyond a guru in him – an orator, an organiser, a disciplinarian, a creator, an artist and above all a bhakta of Saint Narayana Tirtha.

Thatha never said words or preached to help us learn things. He’d simply do them in action and meticulously followed them until his last breath – I can assure. Today, in his absence, I connect dots backward and know that there’s so much he has taught me in an implied manner.

He liked being challenged and deeply appreciated acumen in a person and accepted creative (non conventional) ideas readily.

He was one of the early organisers to encourage budding young artistes and would go out of his way to support and help them build a career by putting them in touch with other leading Sabha secretaries.

For those who knew him deep, they’d absolutely adore him for his straight forwardness. Despite his natural traits, he was extremely good as an influencer and loved being around like minded individuals.

From concert recitals, dance performances, stage dramas, harikatha, namasankeertanam, villupaatu, jugalbandis to talk shows, debate sessions, short films, street play, he explored spectrum of ideas to reach out compositions of Sri Narayana Tirtha.

Seen a man of dreams? Yes.
Seen an entire family beholding this man’s dreams? It’s rare. For, its seldom we witness such things.
I consider myself blessed to grow up in such an atmosphere at household. Differing views, conflicting interests, personal opinions will fall short completely when it comes to one subject – “Narayana Tirtha” – where the entire family unites unanimously.

In the recent past, we bonded beyond a guru – shishya relationship and shared ideas across subjects – food, travel, politics, history, culture, psychology, medicine, fitness, architecture. And maybe, this was when, he was more of a thatha to me and expressed his purest of sides with joy to me.

His leaving is irreplaceable but he has given us a purpose beyond our imagination – to each one of us in the family to hold onto and reminisce him in many more years to come.

Tataastu.

P.S: His strength and love, V Rajalakshmi, my patti – is currently in loss of words to express what she’s going through. Hope and pray for her well being.

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Pasi Vandhal Paththum Paranthu Pogum

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Pasi Vandhal Paththum Paranthu Pogum

The above phrase means when you are hungry, all of one’s key characteristics drift apart. Or in simple words, when one’s hungry, nothing else is of a priority than filling one’s stomach.

This phrase is derived from a song sung by Avaiyar in one of her works, Moodhurai.

Maanam Kulam Kalvi Vanmai Arivudaimai
Dhaanam Dhavam Uyarchi Thalanmai – Thaenin
Kasivandha Solliyarmael Kaamurudhal Paththum
Pasivandhida Parandhu Poam

Maanam – Dignity
Kulam – Class in the Society
Kalvi – Education
Vanmai – Strength
Arivudaimai – Knowledge
Dhaanam – Donating Attitude
Dhavam – Penance
Uyarchi – Rank
Thalanmai – Generosity
Kamurudhal – Romance

LOLAL – Laughing out loud at life!

“Here she is, all mine, trying her best to give me all she can.
How could I ever hurt her? But I didn’t understand then. That I could hurt somebody so badly she would never recover. That a person can, just by living, damage another human being beyond repair.”
― Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun

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Here I am, LOLAL-ing. Yes, laughing out loud at life.

When devoid of something, mind seeks exactly that.
When bestowed with the best of things, it grows and feeds insecurities.
Wired with nerves connected to different parts of the body, it controls all sort of emotions.
It builds ego, it doesn’t let go off things.
The perspective of thee is far more superior than others.
From sadness to anger, tears to words, it completely surrenders to emotions.
The emotional balance goes for a jolly ride.
It brings out a face, which is ugly even for self to handle.
Forgiving is almost a far-fetched truth.
Almost juggling between modes like flight or fight.
Mind is a funny thing, controlling every action of the being.
Times like these, it can’t even recount moments of happiness, joyfulness, contentment, giving, selflessness, gratitude or simplicity.
Hereby, accepts that, I am no saint.
But, who says, I can’t learn to become one.

Oh my dear! It’s human to feel this way. It’s perfect to feel uprooted. Time to sow new seeds and grow within.

Lots of love, prayer and good wishes to everyone suffering. Stay strong, for this is the time for your growth.

Week 36: Your home (Upbringing)

There are two gifts we should give our children; one is roots and the other is wings.
~ Unknown

A photo by Daniel Cheung. unsplash.com/photos/sCdm5DiJb8w

Seldom we are grateful for the kind of brought up we all have been bestowed upon. Who and what we are is defined heavily by our parents.

Like or dislike it, we receive a sort of exposure because of them. Since our birth, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the games we play, the words we speak, the expressions of ours, the reactions, the beliefs, the values, trust, faith, everything is shaped by them.

The sort of education we get, therefore the kind of peer group we move with, the friends we make and the connections thereafter, everything is sowed as seeds by them. Discovering our own selves, our talent, our strengths is also facilitated by them.

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And there are some parents who guide us like a light through all the years until we make our own decisions based on choices available to us. And there are some who will continue to parent us. And, there are also many, who face life’s reality at an early age and lead life on their own figuring things out.

Which is ideal? We can never generalize that, for its completely circumstantial. Having said that, it’d be great if all acknowledge and count on our blessings for whoever we are today, merely for our existence.

Yes, I am glad, I am alive this morning and have another day to experience life. 🙂