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This is probably the most famous of Cho Ramaswamy's movies and it is easy to see why. It has to rank as the best and most honest political satire in Tamil cinema. The basic premise of the movie is to show not just the true colours but also many of the absurdities of Indian politics. The movie makes it a point to emphasize the gullibility of the Indian people as much as it highlights the unscrupulousness of the majority of its political class.
The title of the movie is the name of the most infamous of the sultans of the Tughlaq dynasty, Mohammad bin Tughlaq, a man known as much for his sheer brilliance as for his eccentricity and maniacal tendencies. The beginning of the movie reminds viewers of some of his famous "crackpot schemes" which failed miserably. The rest of the movie deals with the question of how Mohammad bin Tughlaq would react and adapt to the political scenario of India in 1971 if he were to miraculously arise again. Mohammad bin Tughlaq, being the astute man that he is, is not only able to gauge the psychology of the masses, but he soon learns the ropes of modern Indian politics and manipulates the masses in order to maintain his hold on power.
This movie does border on the absurd in a number of places and this is intentionally done. Since the absurdities and contradictions are well handled, this serves to enhance the satire rather than weaken it. The movie tends to portray the majority of the Indian populace as easily manipulated and there are quite a few references to real events and persons in Indian politics.
Although the satire is primarily political, there is a little social satire interspersed in it as well. In terms of style and presentation, the movie shows some influence of tamil theatre which is not unusual considering that Cho was primarily a stage actor when he directed this movie. Purists might not fully approve of the screenplay and editing.
To sum up, a well written script with acerbic dialogues and the kind of brutal honesty for which Cho has become only too famous are the strong points of this movie and it is a must watch for those who are familiar with Indian politics.
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