Aadil was born to a Thai mother and Indian Muslim father in 1984 in Newcastle in Northern Natal. Apartheid laws meant Aadil’s father was unable to practice as a pharmacist in South Africa and the family packed up and moved to Thailand. In the early 90s, because of the changing political landscape and that the country was about to welcome a new President, the family once again returned and settled in Newcastle. Aadil attended a series of different schools ranging from government run ‘Indian’ schools, to ‘Model C’, and eventually a private high school. He jokingly adds: ‘Guys a private school in Newcastle just means there were chairs, running water, and white people. Anyway, all three of my siblings are Doctors now, so yes we really are living the Indian dream.’ Aadil ended up doing a year of medicine at the University of the Free State as his father regarded his love of filmmaking as nothing more than a hobby. Eventually, he went on to complete his honours degree in Psychology. But the dream was too powerful and finally Aadil got a little bit closer when he convinced his father to let him enroll into AAA. He soon rose through the ranks as a Copywriter, but his love of filmmaking never went away. Over the years he had dabbled behind the lens, but it was only when he turned 31 that he decided to commit as a full-time Director.
iDidTht: ‘How do you think your journey has helped you become a better Director?’
Aadil: ‘I found that my experiences and background really sharpened me as a strategic thinker and in developing insights because I was able to observe so many groups and so many different kinds of people. Growing up in a very Indian and Coloured neighbourhood, while simultaneously attending a predominantly white high school, going to uni in Bloem, and living in Joburg for 12 years after that, gave me a lot of perspective and insight, which have been some of my strongest creative qualities – I am quite adaptable and I can empathise with different groups and people.’
What makes Aadil’s journey so unique is not necessarily only his talent as a Writer and now Director, but rather his experience as a mixed race brown man having to navigate his way through the advertising and film industry. Moving in-between different race and class groups combined with his background in psychology, Aadil has developed a truly unique voice. In the two hours we sat with him, we absolutely fell in love with his soft-spoken and gentle nature. The adversity he has had to face is not something he wallows in for one second but has rather shaped him into someone truly empathetic with a deep understanding of the differences and similarities we as South Africans share. You simply cannot learn that at any film school.