Mandela Review: This Yogi Babu, Sheila Rajkumar Starrer Can Be Aptly Described As ‘Barbar’ Dekho Hazar Baar Dekho

Mandela's plot mixes the social comment with lighthearted jibes. Read the full review of this Tamil film here.

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Mandela Review: This Yogi Babu, Sheila Rajkumar Starrer Can Be Aptly Described As ‘Barbar’ Dekho Hazar Baar Dekho

He is the brightest shade of the  Ordinary Man…or the dullest shade of the Extraordinary Man. The kind  we don’t give  a second glance on the road. Those who  clean cars  and cut our hair.  Smile, yes that’s his name, is so painfully inconspicuous he had to be played by Yogi Babu,you wouldn’t notice him even if he was dancing naked on the street.   

When Smile needs an adhaar card to vote he takes the help of a kindly female  government  servant  Thenmozhi (Sheila Rajkumar) who is the kind of  bureaucratic worker we  all wish there was  more of. It is  Thenmozhi who suggests the name Mandela for our barbar  hero. In  return he offers to dye  her one strand of grey  hair she seems very conscious of. In this way the plot mixes the social comment with lighthearted  jibes.We can’t be serious about the  state  of  the  nation all the time.

In  what could be  considered a most unusual mix of political satire and a savage critique  of the caste system, Mandela brings forward  the  thrusts  and heaves of a social-political system based on inequality.There is a  vivid brutality to the way ‘Mendela’ is used by  the two factions of the village fighting elections.

That the two factions are  captained by two brothers  from the same family  adds an ironic dimension to the  plot:  if  siblings from the same family are at each other’s throat how can they  manage to  look after their constituency?I don’t think the sprawling political satire  actually  mentions  the  irony.

Savagely uncompromising in its  vision of an irredeemably compromised  political system  Mandela could have been a far better film if it had chosen  not to meander  through a serpentine maze of incidents  and  experiences  in the protagonists’ life with indifferent neighbours  and bullying politicians, which after  a  point, begins to appear  like too much  of  the same  thing  over and  over again.

Though the meditation on  mobocracy is engaging it tends  to  get oppressive when the crowds on screen begin to crowd the   plot flooding the frames with their  incessant greed  gab and  doublespeak. What comes  across   is  the  oppression  of  the disempowered  individual who is kicked around  for his voting power and neglected otherwise.

The  payback when it comes , is not unconvincing. Some of  the plot twists  in this significant political satire seem farcically far-fetched . But no one can  deny the power and strength of this first-time writer-director’s voice .When  Madonne Ashwin speaks, we must listen. Because he has something important to say about the  common  man and the  right to vote. 

Mandela begins  and ends with  the  construction  of a public toilet. Reminded me  of  the promise that Akshay Kumar made about constructing toilets  so that women won’t have to  attend the call of Nature in full view. That prem katha seems to have gone down the  toilet. Mandela  shows nothing has changed. It never will.

Image source: Instagram/#mandelamovie/Youtube/Y Not Studios