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‘Mandela’ movie review: Yogi Babu excels in a film that understands caste structure and vote-bank politics

Debutante Madonne Ashwin’s ‘Mandela’ is a first-rate political satire that exhibits how deep-seated caste is, by taking an unflinching but unsentimental look

There’s a minor element — packed within the type of a dialogue that you could be miss noticing — in Mandela, that tells extra about caste construction than the movie. It arrives when violence breaks out between two dominant caste teams, the leaders of whom are half-brothers and are pitted in opposition to one another within the native physique elections.

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Within the raging conflict between the North and the South, the areas predominantly occupied by the 2 caste teams, Yogi Babu, a barber, stands within the center. Taking a look at him, a personality wonders if he was thekkoru (South) or vadakkuoru (North) and the person subsequent to him says, “He’s podhu (public).” Word that he doesn’t personal a land.

This seemingly inconsequential piece of dialog speaks volumes of the mentality of the upper-caste/dominant caste, particularly in the best way they understand Dalits as public property that they’ll possess and poach on. It comes from a spot of entitlement and this callous perspective over the oppressed is the spirit that holds Mandela collectively, treading a cautious line between romanticising caste practices and making a mockery of them.

Mandela

  • Solid: Yogi Babu, Sheela Rajkumar, Sangili Murugan, GM Sundar and Kanna Ravi
  • Director: Madonne Ashwin
  • Storyline: Forward of the native physique elections in Soorangudi, the leaders of two dominant caste teams coax into getting the vote of a Dalit, because the vote rely from their respective caste involves a draw.

We see the entitlement from the very starting when Rathnam (GM Sundar) and his cohort organise an inaugural ceremony for a public rest room that they constructed for his or her caste, who stay within the North. His half-brother, Madhi (Kanna Ravi), is from a supposedly decrease but dominant caste, who fights for the rights of “his” folks. Their patriarch father Ayya (Sangili Murugan) is a Periyar follower and has two wives (from the 2 castes), in his bigger purpose to unite these two warring teams and to abolish caste within the village. However that sounds somewhat handy, proper?

On the inaugural ceremony, a tune from Yejaman is performed within the background, maybe, to point one thing. A personality from Rathnam’s cohort is all the time seen eradicating his footwear each time violence breaks out and appears to be overprotective of it. The 2 teams are at warheads as to who would inaugurate the bathroom — the northerners or southerners? Sure, there’s a caste implication in every part, even in what you eat. When Ayya volunteers and when he passes out, within the ensuing tussle between the 2 teams outdoors, they search for an ilicha vai (harmless) particular person to wash up the mess. Do try the documentary Kakkoos. The ilicha vai in Mandela is Yogi Babu, who doesn’t have a reputation and is referred as ilicha vai (consider Chappani from 16 Vayathinile). Greater than something, he’s the podhu that was talked about within the earlier paragraph. And Mandela is that this story of a single particular person’s battle in reclaiming a) his id and b) to interrupt free from the id that was bestowed upon him by society.

Ashwin’s movie is born out of a easy concept: half-brothers. Consider Agni Natchathiram. Consider Cheran Pandian. Mandela is extra on the strains of the latter, however it finally ends up correcting what the KS Ravikumar movie flirted with. One of many issues that basically work in its favour is how trustworthy and earnest the movie stays until the very finish. And this earnestness appears to come back from a spot of self-awareness, as Ashwin and the makers appear to concentrate on their privilege. That, one suspects, is the rationale why they’ve made Mandela as a satire. Generally, we snicker with them and typically, we snicker at them, which is the movie’s achievement: to attract humour out of a severe challenge like caste and vote-bank politics.

It’s self-aware as a result of it understands caste construction. Take this scene, as an example. When Mandela (Yogi Babu, who simply owns the movie within the second half) is given a buffet of choices (of names) to choose from, they slim down on Nelson Mandela, the previous President of South Africa. In that scene, Yogi Babu innocently remarks: “What if that was an upper-caste title?” That sense of concern is actual.

The movie doesn’t discover the situations that made folks like Mandela an outcast by the identical people who find themselves now vying for his vote. As a substitute, what it does get proper is to not make the character really feel apologetic, like final yr’s Severe Males, in regards to the presents that he receives from the caste leaders. The saviour template is (delightfully) inverted. But, it’s a little bit of a drag and typically too melodramatic.

There is no such thing as a express point out of caste names, or political events. Every little thing is implied and lowered to background data, and we’re left to attract our personal conclusions. I significantly favored how Ashwin had used Ramki as one of many photographs you discover in Mandela’s saloon. Individuals who grew up within the 90s would know the way the actor, like Rajinikanth, was well-known for his coiffure.

For a movie like Mandela, you someplace start to fret on how it’s going to finish. The suspense begins constructing inside you, however Ashwin provides a becoming conclusion with a voiceover and a static shot — maybe to point a bigger level: it takes a village to face up for one’s proper.

Mandela releases on Vijay TV on April 4 at 9.30am.

 

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