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

Director Thamizh’s sophomore project on caste politics has the heart but lacks the punch

Updated - May 17, 2024 08:33 pm IST

Published - May 17, 2024 07:58 pm IST

A still from ‘Election’

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

Election had all the prospects of being an interesting addition to the filmographies of Vijay Kumar and director Thamizh. While the filmmaker’s debut venture Seththumaan dealt with caste and food politics, the film that put Vijay Kumar on the map, Uriyadi, and its sequel, are politically charged works. But shockingly, despite teaming up for a film with local body elections as a backdrop, Election fails to pack a punch.

The film starts with a voiceover by Sasikumar, explaining how local body elections have evolved over the years, and the clock stops in 2016 when Nadarasan (Vijay Kumar) hacks a man’s hand in a bar in a scene straight out of Uriyadi. To explain what led him to violence, we go back in time and learn that Nadarasan, the son of a party’s cadre member Nallasivam (George Maryan), is a happy-go-lucky guy but a series of events causes him to take the political plunge. Donning a white shirt is easy but keeping it white is easier said than done, and Nadarsan’s life goes into a spiral as he tries to circumnavigate his way around the game that is politics.

Election (Tamil)
Director: Thamizh
Cast: Vijay Kumar, Preethi Asrani, Richa Joshi, George Maryan, Paval Navageethan, Dileepan
Runtime: 120 minutes
Storyline: Circumstances push a man into politics who learns the hard way that there’s more to it than meets the eye

Political films in Tamil cinema have always focused on the bigger picture and we have had very few entries within the genre that shed light on grassroots level politics. Election’s greatest strength is how it gets into the nitty-gritty of the smaller elections and how the stakes are anything but small for those directly involved in it. For some, contesting in elections is a matter of caste and class pride; they believe political positions are sacramental and should stay within the family. For some, it’s about making a point, a warcry to remind those in power that if they are denied what they are owed, they will take it upon themselves to get it. Between these are aspects like money that have unfortunately become paramount for putting oneself out there. What other political films found too inconsequential to even mention are pointed out as primary factors or a matter of concern in Election; there’s a wonderful scene showcasing how a candidate’s election result affects their partner.

Unfortunately, such scenes are far and few in between. Despite mounting the film on the overarching theme of caste politics, Election barely scratches the surface of it and does not make a strong case for the message it tries to drive home. In a classic example of toning it down and commercialising it to reach the masses, the film’s core idea gets diluted amidst aspects like unnecessary songs. Just like Vijay Kumar’s earlier film Fight Club, Election also has a lot of characters, and though you understand the importance of it from a writing perspective, it leads to a lot of flab; and you know that’s a problem when the film’s runtime is just two hours.

A still from ‘Election’

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

Some aspects of Election are enjoyable; some of the dialogues — it’s a dialogue-heavy film — work. I liked the ones that go ‘panam illadhavan uzhaipan, panam irrukuravan aruvadai seivan’ (the rich people reap the benefits of the hard work endured by the poor) and ‘kaalam kaalam ah irrunkurathunala thappu seri agidathu’ (just because something has been around for ages, it does not make it right). There are also these neat little touches by Thamizh, like using a shot of the famous globe scene from Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator and how two people use a hammer and sickle during a fight inadvertently form the notable communist symbol.

Vijay Kumar does a good job as the angry young man taken for a ride by those around him who, unlike him, don’t see politics as a race but a game of Chess. But seeing his character become a mere bystander of the happenings leaves you wishing the film was more well-rounded.

Despite showing a few glimpses of potential, Election succumbs to its shallow writing; it’s like turkeys voting for Christmas!

Election is currently running in theatres

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