'Aadhaar' review: Impressive writing elevates this familiar subject

Aadhaar however suffers from rough edges in its making and craft. Arun Pandian’s head constable character Yusuf gets Azan music in the background every time the camera captures him in a close-up.

Published: 24th September 2022 11:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 24th September 2022 11:26 AM   |  A+A-


A still from the trailer of the movie 'Aadhaar'

Express News Service

It’s hard not to let Aadhaar make you think of films like Jai Bhim, Visaranai, and Writer. Like these acclaimed films, Ramnath Palanikumar’s latest directorial is also brutal and thought-provoking. The film begins with an elaborate sequence of the launch of a luxury car. It might feel like in-film branding, but if you pay close attention, you see there’s more than what meets the eye.

Aadhaar is centred around Pachamuthu (Karunaas), a migrant labourer, and his struggles to find his missing wife. The narrative is taken forward through the police investigation.

The gripping non-linear narrative keeps us invested in the proceedings, even if it might seem familiar. If not for some convenient coincidences towards the end, the writing is most convincing and coherent.


While the one-dimensional Pachamuthu is painted as a naive man, it is commendable that most of the other characters are treated as real, grounded humans with multiple shades. Take, for instance, sub-inspector Vijayan, played by Baahubali Prabhakar.

The moment he makes an entry, we are conditioned to believe he will be a scheming and villainous cop. But in Aadhaar, he gets a rather layered character with plausible justifications for his actions. Similarly, there’s Saroja (Ineya), who is introduced as a foul-mouthed woman from a criminal background.

But we then see her risking her life to help someone. What is even more gratifying is there are no elaborate monologues or backstories to make us rally behind these characters!

Aadhaar however suffers from rough edges in its making and craft. Arun Pandian’s head constable character Yusuf gets Azan music in the background every time the camera captures him in a close-up. He is called Bhai by everyone, wears an amulet, and has a prayer callus on his forehead. There are also shots of him wearing the Taqiyah and reading the Quran.

Why not treat him like any other character in the film? In more than one way, the character is similar to Samuthirakani’s Thangaraj in Writer, though both are from different backgrounds. While Thangaraj fights valiantly against the system despite his limitations, Arun Pandian’s Bhai chooses to be a silent witness for the most part. 

Aadhaar’s visuals and aesthetics bear striking resemblance to Visaranai. Just like the Vetrimaaran film, this also attempts to be a powerful critique of the system and how there’s no escape from it, even for those within.

The department protects Vijayan when he does something gruesome, but only to arm-twist him years later. In another telling example of clever writing, we see a drunk old man borrowing money from Bhai frequently. It’s later learnt that he is a senior official, who is now under suspension because he chose to question his higher officials.

Towards the end, we see him eventually becoming a part of the very system he fought against once. He becomes just another victim like Yusuf and Vijayan. It’s easy to root for someone like Pachamuthu, but this film succeeds in making us empathise with these cops as well.

Though it’s not the first film that talks about the injustices served to the underprivileged, Aadhaar is a compelling watch that achieves what it intends to without much force-feeding­—if you forgive the not-so-great craft.

Director: Ramnath Palanikumar
Cast: Karunaas, Arun Pandian, Prabhakar, Uma Riyaz Khan
Rating:  3/5


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