Mandela Review: A political satire after a long time which is hilarious and doesn’t advise you on the face

Mandela Review

Cast: Yogi Babu, G M Sundar, Kanna Ravi, Sheela Rajkumar, Sangili Murugan
Music: Bharath Sankar
Direction: Madonne Ashwin

The film is set in a place named ‘Soorangudi’, which is bifurcated as Vadakoor (north village) and Therkoor (South village). The bifurcation is due to the caste system, where each village has residents from a particular caste. Hence there is always a fight when something common is built. For instance, they demolished the school as they don’t want residents from both castes to study together. 

The film opens in one such fight, which is over a newly built public toilet. Ratnam (G M Sundar) from Vadakoor wants the toilet to be used only by their people, whereas Mathi (Kanna Ravi) from Therkoor wants it to be for everyone. The fight is momentarily resolved by two people. One is Sangili Murugan who is the president of the village and father of Ratnam and Mathi. Another is Smile (Yogi Babu), who is a barber and a lower caste person. They both are the only common persons for the two villages. 

The momentarily resolved fight grows as a full blown fight. The camera zooms to the women who were standing at the side, eager for the opening of the toilet. The fight brings disappointment to them. Throughout the film, the close-ups are effectively used in signifying something. My favourite one is from the title sequence, a close-up of a tap and in the background a man is lifting a packed water can. The film’s title sequence is one of the best in recent times. It brilliantly conveys the setting of the village and its people, its leaders, etc. It’s also shows the discrimination the people do to Smile. 

Yogi Babu is great in this role which has a beautiful character arc. He starts of as someone who doesn’t question the discrimination against him, as someone who doesn’t even know his name. He gets a new name – ‘Nelson Mandela’ with the help of the new post office employee, Thenmozhi (Sheela Rajkumar). Along with his new name, he also gets his voting rights. Until then he is the least important person, but after receiving his voting rights he becomes a VIP. His vote becomes the deciding vote for the election between Ratnam and Mathi. 

The film efficiently conveys the importance of a vote, how voting rights could bring down the caste discrimination. The only thing which was quite unsettling was the tone shift (an emotional Mandela suddenly shifts to hilarious tone) in the later half of the film. This film is a well-made political satire after a very long time in Tamil cinema. It hilariously shows how politicians do anything for a vote and how people also get swayed away by the generous offers. 

Verdict: A political satire after a long time which is hilarious and doesn’t advise you on the face

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