Aadai - An Arrival of a Filmmaker & an Actress
In many ways, Rathnakumar's Aadai is more of a sister-piece to Aruvi. In the sense, how both films portray their leads and their sense of liberation.. In the sense, how both films present satirical knocks and at times, a serious punch on the facets of society.. In the sense, how they deal with the whole concept of sex, virginity or sexuality.. In how, at both the cases, the parent figures dissociate with the freaky nature their daughters are happily embracing. Perhaps, unlike Aruvi.. which was more inclusive, sparse and compassionate.. Aadai, goes a bit more mainstream with its one note direction towards talking the things the filmmaker wants to talk.
Aadai, to most extent.. builds up to that one life-changing adventure for Kamini. When and why it happens becomes the crux later. The film, throughout, has its women pushing the edges in every game-changing decisions of the film. Kamini robs a chance out of her friend Jenifer. Why? She wants to make her mother feel better by reading news once on prime television. Her mother, who has no idea (at least, in the sense of explaining) about feminism calls out her overtness. While, on the other hand, it is a girl again.. who proves a point to Kamini.
Kamini is certainly Amala Paul's career best performance so far. The actress has embodied the ideology Kamini believes in.. the attitude.. the gestures.. the mindset.. the emotions.. everything into a persona. Be it the violently hyper prankster or the vulnerable, not-giving-up survivor.. Amala Paul has literally mounted the film on herself. The supporting cast of Sri Ranjani, Vivek Prasanna, Sarithran, Rohit, Ramya does a great job in ensuring the coherence of the film. The comic nerve in the earlier portions is hilariously brought out by the performances.
Vijay Karthik's cinematography deserves a huge mention for how the visual abstractness intensifies the story with every passing frame. Every shot has a thing to convey. In candid early portions.. In surreal hallucinative sequences.. In claustrophobic empty building.. In a mad rain.. The visual mood keeps on adding density to the film. Despite the film having almost an hour long scenes involving nudity.. the camera artistically tries to explore the human who is thriving out there.
Shafique's editing packs the madness and sanity that the film holds in a perfect balance. Sampath's sound design adds a huge thump to the drama. Pradeep Kumar and the band Oorka, in addition to their interesting soundtrack, delivers a killer background score to the film. The thriller in the film really whales up as the score consistently psychs it in the right note.
It is definitely a heroic, pivotal moment when Kamini wears tissue papers over her and stands up as a Wonder Woman for herself. But somewhere along, we get a feel that the concept of nudity / dress in the film (or by the director) is still associated with shame. Kamini pledges to herself that she will come out of this with her dignity. She funnily tells to her stomach that she can't feed it when she is struggling to save her dignity. Towards the end, a character tells her that it is good to know that Kamini didn't go to an extent to walk nude on the roads.
Where the film really falls is when it gets into a preachy zone where you sense that the director suddenly wants to drop the storytelling and just list out all the points he want to address. The revelation towards the end is lumped with sort of two flashbacks and an aggressive monologue about the usage of cellphones, social media and selfies. And somewhere on the course of this portion, the film lacks its very point and gets into a self-centered zone. One example to point out would be how the 'Free the Nipple' movement is looked down to impactfully mention the essence of dress.
We do wish the logicistics of the lone building set-up to be bit more strong. The distractive 'male friends could have done this' sub-plot doesn't help much. And why we never see them again is not much convincing enough as a reason. I, also wonder how different a film Aadai would have been.. if the character of Kamini is doesn't antagonized much and treated as a normal woman who has to provoke her survival skills on her own. But that's a different story. As of now, it is no doubt that Rathnakumar has made one of the most promising 'second film' of Tamil Cinema.
Bottomline: Aadai, featuring Amala Paul as Kamini, is surely an audacious attempt by Rathnakumar. Despite the debatable problematic perspectives it puts forth.. as a film, it breathes a real sense of freshness and declares the arrival of a solid filmmaker and an actress.
Rating : 3.5/5