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Aadai is well-intentioned but partly paradoxical. In a nutshell, it’s the story of free-spirited Kamini (Amala Paul), who goes back to her original name, Suthanthira Kodi.
In one of the earlier scenes, Kamini asks her mother (played by Sri Ranjini of House Owner-fame), “What do you know about feminism?”— to which she replies it can be the gesture of giving extra idlis to someone in dire need. Kamini doesn’t argue further. With a smile, she leaves to work. Kamini’s mother adjusts her bra strap and lectures how it should be worn “properly”.
Kamini is independent, fearless and a badass. She drinks smokes and rides a sports bike. She works for a news channel and does prank shows. Her mother doesn’t like the way she is. In fact, Kamini picks up her boyfriend and rides so fast like a man. She is not your usual woman. She dreads wearing saris and sporting bindis. She hates visiting temples. She considers doing all of these a nightmare.
Aadai begins with the story of Nangeli who kills herself protesting against ‘Breast Tax’. Nangeli wished to dress however she wanted and fought for ‘the right to dress’. Kamini, similarly, fights a battle. From being a cliched feminist, she transforms into a different person after realising the ‘true meaning of freedom and feminism’.
Amala Paul plays Kamini with such conviction that it’s hard to dislike her—despite being the rebel she is. Kudos to the Director of Photography Vijay Karthik Kannan for having captured a lot of scenes with utmost sensitivity. For all the controversy the teaser sparked, not even in one place you find the shots suggestive or vulgar.
After an impressive start, in the second half, Aadai goes off track. But the film has its moments—like how we are made to understand “Not all pranks are pranks. Some of them are a nuisance.” In particular, watch out for this scene where Kamini tells a male friend, “If I choose to sit on your bike, it doesn’t mean I love you. It means I like your bike”. I couldn’t help but laugh at this scene where a chaiwallah tells Kamini he would become the Prime Minister someday. In another one, Jenny (Ramya) asks if she should pay the royalty for playing antakshari.
On her birthday, Kamini gets drunk with a group of friends. Without realising what the future holds, Kamini says she can read out the news naked if someone dares her to. But the next morning, she finds herself naked in the same building. ‘How’ and ‘why’ forms the storyline of Aadai.