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Mandela movie review: This Yogi Babu-starrer is a must-watch

A man from the lower-caste with no name, suddenly finds an identity in Mandela. After being treated poorly all his life, suddenly all his demands are met, which changes his life drastically.

Mandela movie review: This Yogi Babu-starrer is a must-watch

Last Updated: 12.00 AM, Apr 14, 2021


Mandela is set in a village in Tamil Nadu that is ruled by brothers Rathnam (GM Sundar) and Mathi (Kanna Ravi). The duo constantly has ego clashes and cannot stand each other's company. Soon, Rathnam introduces a barber, who is either called Smile (Yogi Babu), because of his countenance, or Jackass, as that’s how those in the village refer to a person from a lower caste.

True to his name, Smile accepts every painstaking chore he is asked to do in the society because of his perceived social standing, with a smile, even when people don’t pay him as they deem him “undeserving”. Things, however, take a turn when his life savings are stolen from the banyan tree where he seeks shelter, forcing him to start a savings account at the recently-opened post office.

This also prompts him to get a voter’s ID with the name Nelson Mandela, at a time when the brothers are contesting elections. Because he resides in an area that doesn’t belong to either, he also becomes an important person for both the siblings.

The film takes the audience through Smile aka Mandela’s journey of happiness, pain and resurrection. It’s this well-scripted redemptive tale of the character that also makes the film worthy of a watch. The actors too do their bit to elevate the storytelling.


Yogi Babu, with his cute antics, is undoubtedly the best part of the film, but one cannot ignore Kanna Ravi and GM Sundar’s performances. Sangili Murugan, in the role of village head Periya Aiyya, is also entertaining. Sheela Rajkumar as Thenmozhi who urges Smile to find an identity, steals the show in her scenes even though it’s a relatively small role. Her character’s no-nonsense attitude is sure to win over fans.

The well-executed screenplay and cinematography play a huge role in making the movie enjoyable. For instance, a crucial scene showing how people were divided by caste and relied on Mandela’s vote, was shown from his perspective as he was resting on a hammock as everyone waited for him to wake up.

Verdict: Right from Yogi Babu's acting to the script powerfully and realistically portraying how people from different caste system are treated, every aspect of Mandela makes the movie a definite watch.


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