Aadai movie review: Amala Paul provides thought provoking commentary on society and womanhood

In Aadai, Amala Paul breaks tropes usually seen in heroine-led film with her bold act

Sreedhar Pillai July 20, 2019 13:42:40 IST

3/5

The promotional posters and teasers of Amala Paul’s Aadai landed the film in a controversy. The USP of this Rathna Kumar film is the unconventional characterisation of its heroine Kamini played superbly by Amala Paul.

Amala breaks tropes usually seen in heroine-led film with her bold act. In fact, Kamini has more grey to her character as somebody that's willing to go beyond the limits set by society on how women (read: typical Tamil Ponnu) should behave. Kamini is close to her mother but can’t stand her traditional views on morality.

Aadai movie review Amala Paul provides thought provoking commentary on society and womanhood

Amala Paul in a still from Aadai. Image via Twitter/@cinemalee_co

She works at a popular television channel and does a hidden camera prank show called Thoppi Thoppi. Her mother (Sriranjani) would like her to anchor the show wearing a saree but Kamini wears torn jeans instead. She is a bike-riding, joint-smoking woman who loves partying with her male friends after a long day at work. She is also tomboyish and aggressive by nature and her friends call her a 'sadist'.

Kamini loves to be challenged. When one of her colleagues, Jenny (Ramya Subramaniam), says that she will not be able to become a newsreader as it requires a certain amount of dignity, she is determined to prove her wrong. Later in the film, Kamini celebrates her birthday by holding a rave party in the empty office space. She and Jenny get drunk and start hallucinating soon. A drunken fight erupts between them as Kamini blurts out that it was her who locked up Jenny in the restroom so she could have a chance to read the news. Things go awry as next day, she wakes up to find herself naked, and her friend missing. What unfolds next is intriguing.

The film has a strong feminist core with a prelude in the beginning. It shows graphically how women were earlier banned from covering their breasts till a Nangeyi made a colossal sacrifice to bring about change. The film also provides interesting commentary on how men view women both directly and metaphorically.

But post interval, the director loses track and the film ends up becoming a preachy melodrama with the introduction of a surprise character towards the climax. The writing suffers as it becomes more concerned with hurriedly touching upon multiple social issues such as Tamil Nadu’s NEET challenge, our dependence on social media, the negative influence of Kollywood and its larger than life heroes, reality shows and allegations of sexual harassment against a veteran lyricist. Bu the message is loud and clear — It's a man's world.

The film belongs to Amala Paul. She is bold to have taken the road less travelled, and has done a wonderful job of holding it together. Ramya as Jenny is riveting along with Vivek Prasanna, who appears as her colleague. However, with a runtime of 141 minutes, Aadai drags, especially the first half with unnecessary scene-establishing characters which test your patience. The basic story begins at the interval but the surprise character and the sub plot around the climax further slow the narration.

Cameraman Vijay Karthik Kannan deserves a pat on his back for shooting Amala's body aesthetically without any titillation. All said and done, Aadai does herald a brave new world of women-led films in Tamil.

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