A deceptively simple, profoundly ironic featurette designed to expose the corruption and shallowness of Indian politicians, “Throne of Death” would have benefited from more expansive treatment but is still a notably fresh and cynical exercise. It should be picked up by fests in coming months, and could fit into quality TV skeds.
Vishwas Njavakkal plays a laborer living on an island in the state of Kerala; for years he and his wife have slaved for a self-important landowner, but there’s never enough food. One night, the man steals some coconuts and is arrested; for good measure, he’s also indicted and convicted of an unsolved murder he had nothing to do with. With an election in the offing, politicos adopt pro and con attitudes, but everyone, including the unfortunate man, seems happy when it’s decided he shall be chosen to inaugurate an “electronic” chair, purchased from the U.S. with a World Bank loan. With its up-to-the-minute references to the Kosovo crisis, and its dry sense of humor, “Throne of Death” emerges as a surprisingly potent item.