Written and directed by Madonne Ashwin, Mandela is a praiseworthy directorial debut, as a comic political satire that deals with everything our democratic elections are infamous for. Titled after the world icon Nelson Mandela, it stars Yogi Babu as the protagonist, whom we have earlier seen playing typical kinds of comic roles in many hit films. In Mandela, he has given the best performance of his career along with a fabulous cast wherein every single character excels in his or her given role.
As an unconventional, experimental film revolving around the village election between two groups, Mandela is a pleasant surprise with a wide range of realistic references, intelligently incorporated in the script from its very first scene to the last. It begins with people openly defecating and a single toilet built for the entire village waiting to be inaugurated by an elderly leader. The ladies silently watch the event being held from a distance and this complete sequence brilliantly sets the premise raising the expectations.
Moving ahead, the film showcases everything we are well familiar with about our Indian electoral process, from a new Voting card being made to fake declarations of assets by the candidates, promising freebies. But nothing more should be revealed about its core plot because the magic will not be there if you already know why the film is named so and what does the protagonist says listening to this foreign name revealing his suppressed mindset.
To give you an idea, Mandela is about ‘a nobody’ in the village who doesn’t remain the same as the circumstances change. The film is a hilarious satire but is also sensitive enough to make us feel the shame, watching the on-screen proceedings.
Instantly establishing a beautiful connection with the viewer, it makes one feel for the protagonist, watching the way he gets treated by the entire village. The narration also works because of its well-shot visuals, sharp editing, and thoughtfully composed music playing in the backdrop, including a few songs.
Plus, it keeps you guessing, maintaining delightful suspense, and the viewer remains eager to know how is this going to conclude. Continuing with the praises, Mandela is a clean and honest film, sincerely made by a talented team featuring one of the earnest performances, the best by Yogi Babu to date.
It is also an important film as it understands and represents our interiors, culture, people, and the caste difference so well, forcing us to think about the living conditions and interactions, we are still dealing with, in this third decade of the new millennium, over 73 years post our independence.
However, what makes the film outstanding is the way the director ends the entire mess, leaving the conclusion open to the viewers, who are forced to think the obvious with a smile. So go for it at the earliest and have a great time with Mandela.
Cast: Yogi Babu, Sheela Rajkumar and more
Director: Madonne Ashwin