‘Election’ movie review: An earnest Vijay Kumar tries to salvage this meandering film

A scene from ‘Election’
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Despite the promising collaboration of Vijay Kumar and filmmaker Thamizh — known for their socially-engaged films ‘Uriyadi’ and ‘Seththumaan’, respectively — ‘Election’ struggles to make its mark. Set against a local election backdrop, the film unexpectedly lacks the sharp impact anticipated from this creative duo.

The tale begins with a narration by Sasikumar, tracking the evolution of local elections and culminating in a violent 2016 incident involving the protagonist Nadarasan (Vijay Kumar). We flashback to discover his journey from easy-going youth to a politically-engaged individual. However, maintaining integrity in politics proves to be a treacherous path, leaving Nadarasan in a whirlwind of ethical dilemmas.

Election (Tamil)

Director: Thamizh

Cast: Vijay Kumar, Preethi Asrani, Richa Joshi, George Maryan, Paval Navageethan, Dileepan

Runtime: 120 minutes

Storyline: A man is drawn into the tumultuous world of politics, only to learn the complexities hidden from public view

Tamil cinema’s political narratives often overlook the minutiae of civic-level elections. ‘Election’ breaks this pattern by delving into the granular details of local political battles and the personal stakes involved. The movie explores themes of caste pride, societal norm challenges, and the unfortunate necessity of money in political campaigns. These are elements often glossed over in larger-scale political movies but are brought to the forefront here, such as in a poignant scene depicting the emotional impact an election has on a candidate’s spouse.

However, these insightful moments are spaced too thinly throughout the film. ‘Election’ merely skims the surface of its central theme of caste politics, leaving its core message blurred and weakened amid extraneous songs and a sprawling ensemble of characters. Even with its concise two-hour runtime, the narrative feels burdened by its excesses.

A scene from 'Election'

A scene from ‘Election’
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Despite its flaws, ‘Election’ does have its share of compelling elements. The script is rich with dialogue, including stirring lines that challenge established norms and question wealth disparities. Director Thamizh also infuses the film with clever visual references, such as a nod to Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator’ and a symbolic use of the hammer and sickle during a brawl.

Vijay Kumar delivers a robust performance as a disillusioned man manipulated by the cunning tactics of seasoned politicians. As his character becomes marginalized in the unfolding events, viewers may long for more depth and dimension to his role.

In its totality, although ‘Election’ shows fleeting moments of promise, it ultimately falls victim to superficial storytelling and fails to engage as it might have. It’s an example of potential lost in translation to mainstream appeal — much like turkeys unwittingly voting for Thanksgiving.

‘Election’ is now showing in theaters.

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