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Election Movie Review: Director Thamizh’s film shines light on grassroot politics, but becomes generic and restrictive

Election is second directorial of Thamizh, who made critically acclaimed Seththumaan. If his debut was a slow-burn drama on caste and food politics, Election is about powerplay in grassroots politics

Election Movie Review: Director Thamizh’s film shines light on grassroot politics, but becomes generic and restrictive

Last Updated: 02.51 PM, May 17, 2024


Election story

Nadarasan (Vijay Kumar) is the son of an ardent cadre of the political party Nallasivam (George Maryan). The latter is so honest and loyal to the political party that he is treated as a doormat by many who employ Nallasivam to do the groundwork for their political mileage. Circumstances lead another cadre, Thanikachalam, to separate from their party and Nallasivam’s blind loyalty to the part creates a rift with the former. This only widens and strains their friendship, leading to Nadarasan’s debut into politics and contesting in local panchayat elections.


Election review

At one point in Election, a dejected Nallasivam, who understands the true nature of being a doormat, breaks down to his wife when the latter asks why he is unable to get out of being one. He says, “I don’t know,” as he sobs and laments over not having answers to a simple and straightforward question with an obvious solution coming from his wife. In another instance, as Nadarasan decides to contest in elections and revels amid being the centre of campaign attention, he says, “Idhu oru maariyana bodha.” (This is a type of addiction/intoxication). Both these instances precisely summarise why the two generations of men keep going back to counting their fates on ballot boxes despite knowing the messy nature of political affairs.

Election movie poster
Election movie poster

Election is the second directorial project of Thamizh, who made the critically acclaimed and powerful film Seththumaan. If his debut was a slow-burn drama on caste and food politics, Election is a film that talks about the cadres and the personal powerplay involved even in grass-roots politics. Thamizh attempts to make Election far more commercial than Seththumaan. There is a heroine in form of Preethi Asrani’s Hema who gets a substance filled role, fight sequences, and more cinematic drama. The director also makes a case to find the middle ground between the commerciality of mainstream cinema and content-driven arthouse films when he makes sure that not a minute of the film is wasted on irrelevant build-ups, emotional sequences, and massy treatment. But where it gets meddled up is Election’s inability to construct a network of its characters that stand as the backbone of the conflict.

Even as the film is set against the backdrop of panchayat elections, which has much lesser stakes as compared to state or national politics, it is not treated frivolously. Instead, we get to see the network and play of politics. There are multiple pawns involved in elections, and is not restricted to only the straightforward game of votes. But on the flipside, these pawns are introduced in such haste that it falls short of being a coercive narrative and rather becomes a hurried, establishing way of telling. In other instances, the film takes a detailed and slow approach for the better. 

For instance, we are shown an elaborate and realistic sequence of candidates witnessing ballot box counting, and there is a certain drama stages, which reiterates that Election is a film with heart at the right place. Vijay Kumar, Preethi Asrani, and Dileepan play their parts well, but it is George Maryan who shines light as a timid politician who understands that he has brought ruins on himself. But even as Election has some poignant moments and heartfelt moments, the film lacks the zing that comes with showing the cutthroat culture of Indian grassroot politics. Personal vengeance and emotional turmoil are skimpily layered to drive the drama, which, with even more depth and full exploration, could have made Election more worthy a watch.

Election verdict

With its almost linear narrative and some effective sequences, Election is a film that explores the nitty gritty of politics. Taking the perspective of grass-roots politics and a cutthroat atmosphere, Election has a lot going on that sometimes dissolves in itself and lacks a world-building of characters.

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