On paper, Aadhi seems like Vijay's attempt to expand his fan base. He has tried to reach out to his non-fans (like he did with Sachein) while giving his fans what they want too (which he didn't with Sachein). The result is an action film with no introduction song for Vijay, fewer punchlines and fewer mass songs. Unlike Sivakasi and Madurey, it even has a meaty role for the heroine and is rarely crude and vulgar. But all those things seem to have been replaced by a single thing - violence. And that will likely still keep away his non-fans. And turn away some of his own fans too.
Anjali(Trisha) is a simple college girl on the outside. But her heart carries a lot of pain and hatred and she, along with her uncle(Nasser), is after the men who caused that pain. Aadhi(Vijay), who is living in Delhi with his parents(Manivannan, Seetha) and his sister, moves to Chennai and enrolls in the same college as Anjali. Aadhi and Anjali become friends but unknown to them, there is another tie binding them together.
For a masala film, Aadhi packs a lot of suspense and surprise into the first half. The film starts off on a high note with Trisha's introduction but then settles down as it sows the seeds of the romance and introduces us to Vijay's family. The proceedings seem a little disjoint at places here and its never really clear what kind of feelings Vijay has for Trisha. But the sense of fun in Vijay's family and suspense about Trisha's mission move the film along.
But a surprising, well-picturized twist helps pick up the pace again, while adding some suspense to the mix. It is completely unexpected until it happens, is picturized slickly and makes us sit up and take notice. Another noteworthy point is the intermission break. It is a stunning shot that, though incredibly gory, is a great rush of adrenaline. But eventually, these two turn out to be the only high points in the entire movie.
But the suspense turns out to be far more interesting than the happenings behind it. The unravelling of the suspense eventually makes the story seem like a relic of the 70s or 80s. The only thing missing is a family song to bring together separated members! It also leads to some very silly sentiments being inserted into the romance between Vijay and Trisha.
The second half is an orgy of violence. The body count is high(with some of the people meeting incredibly violent deaths) and blood flows freely. That by itself is not a completely bad thing but the bigger problem is that the pace is still lethargic. A long flashback where we know exactly what is going to happen and interruptions in the form of romance(and the accompanying song sequences) prevent the movie from maintaining a good pace. A couple of sequences, like Vijay's face-to-face meeting with Saikumar, do the job but for the most part, the movie seems to drag. So the violence feels gratuitous and even sickening.
Vijay looks like he actually made an effort to look as unkempt as possible. With a bird's nest of hair on his head that looks dangerously close to being an Afro, a half-grown beard and moustache and a shirt with top buttons unbuttoned, he is rarely presentable. Without a intro song and having only two lacklustre duets, his dancing skills aren't utilized much either. Trisha looks pretty but seems almost inhibited in her performance. Kannada actor Saikumar overacts in every scene and seems to have mistaken loudness for scariness. Same goes for the other sidekicks too. Vivek has a good introduction but fails to impress after that. Vidyasagar is apparently still basking in Chandramukhi's success and fails to come up with a single memorable tune.