In this era of social media connect, our expectations of films are based on promos and posters that are unleashed on us. Aadai’s promotional material had instantly gone viral and the secrecy factor helped too— everything about the film remained a well-guarded secret until it hit the screens. Add to that were the relentless rumors and wild guesses of the possible plot and genre—but the final product is sure to stun even those with the wildest of imaginations.
Kamini (Amala Paul) is a tomboyish anchor for a private television channel and her modus operandi at work revolves around a prank show that she conducts with her friends. The corporate building where the rented channel office is based, gets a legal notice that demands immediate evacuation and hence the entire staff readies for the shift. Kamini’s birthday coincides with the last day at the premises and her gang of friends decide to have a booze party.
What happens from then is a roller-coaster ride that will leave you shocked and shall eventually plant a seed of thought in your mind as the end credits start to roll. Aadai succeeds on multiple fronts but it’s the daring approach that is exceptional. The film is strikingly bold and has rightly been censored with an A certificate but do not mistake that for vulgarity or excessive violence. The film deals with neither, but the treatment of the film means that those below the age of 18 aren’t advised to view it.
Having doled out a light-hearted Meyaadha Maan as his directorial debut, Rathna Kumar has certainly performed a 360-degree turn with Aadai. The fact that he has written both the films shows the range of his ability. While his maiden film was relatively box office-friendly, his latest venture pushes the envelope in terms of story-telling and treatment. He weaves the film expertly, setting up things with a lucid first-half that sees a high-voltage interval from where things take a huge diversion.
No praise will be too high for Amala Paul—effortlessly spontaneous during the first half, she pulls off the audacious bits with panache. There are several shades of her at different levels in the film—a challenge that many an actresses would have refused. Cinematographer Vijay Kannan deserves credit for the post-interval scenes which are usually a massive test for any cameraman, as the key is to make it visually engaging without seeming vulgar.
The theme of the film is crisp but where Kumar succeeds is not going preachy. In fact, it’s only in the climax that we comprehend the core message of the film. However, even earlier, there are several subtle digs at some of the painful evils of modern society but instead of blatant spoon-feeding the audience with the content Kumar opts for a sophisticated method that works brilliantly.
Therefore, what starts out as a film with dollops of fun, soon begins to shift gears pre-interval and we get to see a gripping second half that does not let the tempo drop. Some may think that the denouement is slightly disjointed but for me, this ensured that Aadai is a laudable genre-bender. Yes, Kumar probably had a lot of things that he wanted to convey through a single film, but the output is refreshingly original in terms of content and execution.
From the first frame of the film, the message of girl power is loud and clear. However, unlike some of the pretentious feminist films that have come out in recent years, Aadai dares to tread a path that’s brave and risky. There is conviction in Kumar’s vision and that’s translated wonderfully on screen, with the performances elevating it. In all aspects, Aadai is a commendable film that asks several thought-provoking questions and even adds on an alleged real-life episode.