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Review Tamil

Mandela review: Yogi Babu-starrer is a highly entertaining, impactful political satire

Release Date: 11 Apr 2021


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Haricharan Pudipeddi

The film makes for an intriguing watch because its script displays a deep understanding of contemporary caste politics.

First-time writer-director Madone Ashwin’s Mandela is destined to be remembered as one of contemporary Tamil cinema's most impactful offerings. The film, which was directly premiered on Netflix on Monday, is a political satire that’s both entertaining and extremely impactful, especially in the manner in which it addresses issues such as caste-based politics and the lengths to which politicians will go to obtain a single vote. The film makes one realize why it’s essential to understand the modern-day political scenario in Tamil Nadu. 

Set in a small village, the film follows events leading to a local body election and two half-brothers who will stop at nothing to come to power. The villagers fall under two prominent caste groups, which are led by the brothers. Mandela (Yogi Babu) an outcast who cleans toilets and carries out menial tasks, doesn’t belong to either group. But when it is learnt that it’s his vote that will decide who will win the elections, he becomes the centre of attention and the most important person in the village.

Mandela makes for a very interesting watch because its makers understand caste politics extremely well. You could take this story and set it in any small village in India and its message will still resonate strongly. One of the prime reasons why the film is effective is comical treatment. Yet, it does strike quite a few emotional chords without getting over-sentimental. Yogi Babu and his earnest performance also strengthen the film. Mandela allows Yogi Babu, who mostly plays comic-relief roles, to truly showcase his potential, and he plays the titular character with much sincerity. 

First-timer Ashwin’s writing deserves a lot of praise for his mature treatment of the subject. His understanding of how the oppressed are seen and treated is on point.  It is refreshing to see Yogi Babu finally get his due and play a role that nobody else could’ve done justice to. 

While the film gets slightly long drawn in the second half, it ends on a high note. If there’s one film you need to watch before you cast your next vote, this is it.  

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