Cast: Karunas, Riythvika, Iniya
Director: Ramnath Palanikumar
Producer: P. Sasee Kumar
Duration: 2 hrs 2 mins
Right in its opening moments, we get an idea of the kind of film that Aadhaar wants to be. The film starts with a tackily shot car launch, and then, we see Pachamuthu (Karunaas) stepping out of an auto with a newborn child and taking tentative steps towards the police station to seek the cops’ help and find the whereabouts of his wife Thulasi (Riythvika), who has mysteriously gone missing just a day after delivering a baby. The cop on duty tells him to come the next day, but seeing the child crying nonstop, gets it from him and feeds the baby herself. Ramnath Palanikumar directs this scene with so much melodrama — we feel it in the way Pachamuthu cries, in the shot of the policewoman feeding the child (of course, it has to be from behind the bars), in the wailing background score by Srikanth Deva — that we prepare ourselves for an emotionally overwrought film.
If you are unable to get conditioned by this point, Aadhaar is definitely not for you. But if you submit to its old-fashioned, almost TV serial-like tone, the film does offer a few rewards. For one, it manages to sustain the mystery around what happened to Thulasi until its end. Ramnath Palanikumar does this by narrating the story in non-linear fashion, jumping from past to present and back again with clarity.
He also doesn’t paint characters as good or bad, making them prisoners to the situations they find themselves in. Take the case of Yusuf Bhai (Arun Pandian), a constable in the police station. He is good enough to guide Pachamuthu in the initial portions, and also helps out a superior who is under suspension because of his straightforwardness. But then, we later learn something about him that makes us see him in a totally different light. Or the character of Saroja (Ineya), a small-time criminal. Even the relationship between Pachamuthu and Thulasi isn’t made cutesy to earn our empathy. We learn that they have a huge age gap and had their share of misunderstandings — just like any normal married couple. If there is a cliche, it is in the representation of a head of a corporate company. All we get is a visual of him in a car, dressed in a suit and smoking a pipe!
However, despite all these strengths, the film comes across as a lesser film than what it should have been because of the treatment. There are times when the events unfolding on screen hardly move us while we wish they provoked a reaction, and there are times when we wish for the director to dial down the melodrama, and let us feel the emotion organically. Given that the film is ultimately about how the “system” abuses the powerless, like Visaaranai, it would have been a better film if it had been quietly affecting.