'Hridayam' Movie Review: Pranav, Darshana's Film Is Straight From the Heart
Review of the Malayalam film 'Hridayam' starring Pravan Mohanlal, Darshana Rajendran
'Hridayam' Movie Review: Pranav Mohanlal, Darshana Shine In Vineeth Sreenivasan's Film Straight from the Heart
Alert: This review may contain spoilers.
For a whole generation of Malayalam film lovers from the 1950s through ‘70s, the Merryland Studio logo – of Lord Muruga, a Peacock and a revolving globe – was a routine sight beckoning them to theatres. Hridayam, scripted and directed by Vineeth Sreenivasan, marks the return of the marquee banner after a gap of 43 years. Hridayam also marks the return of Pranav Mohanlal to celluloid after a brief interlude, aside from an impressive cameo in the recently-released Marakkar: Lion of the Arabian Sea, in what could be a career-defining performance for the actor.
Hridayam is Vineeth's labour of love, a tribute to his campus life at KCG College of Technology, Chennai which “made him”, as the protagonist notes in the ‘secret alley’ during the climax sequence. Perhaps it is not surprising then that the film took five years in the making, running into three hours, with fifteen songs squeezed in between, taking the narrative forward. Hridayam is a fun-filled coming-of-age drama set in a typical engineering college campus; of love, break-ups, heartaches and the discovery of life in the process, also spilling over to the next phase of the lives of the protagonists.
Vineeth's Hridayam opens with a wide-eyed Arun Neelakantan (Pranav Mohanlal) catching a train to Madras from Palakkad as a first-year college student. After the routine ragging sessions involving seniors, there is love-at-first-sight when Arun falls for Darshana (Darshana Rajendran) after listening to her singing. Following a brief courtship their relationship falls apart, on account of Arun’s momentary lapse of judgment, as the feisty Darshana wouldn’t let go of it. Both Arun and Darshana are portrayed as intense and passionate youngsters, with Arun finding a junior student on the rebound after struggling with a low phase following the break-up. The protagonists part ways as good friends on the last day of college when Darshana pops the question to Arun: “Would things have been different had I forgiven you in the first year?”
The film fast-forwards two years at this point. Having seemingly moved on, Arun is shown to be on a journey of self-discovery, going off to the mountains and traveling. Darshana has also ostensibly moved on, with a passion for vlogging. The duo meet and part again at the wedding of Darshana’s sister. A chance encounter with wedding photographer Jimmy (Aju Varghese) leads him to Nithya (Kalyani Priyadarshan), who is thoroughly impressed with Arun, finally at peace with himself. Arun is instantly smitten by the bubbly Nithya, who quickly figures out that he is for keeps and they are ready to tie the knot in no time.
Has Darshana made peace with her break-up with Arun or does she still expect him to come back to her life at some point? Is Arun completely over Darshana or still pining for her deep inside? Will Nithya freak out when she learns about Darshana and is her relationship with Arun strong enough to withstand the tremor? The answers to these questions and more can be found out at the cinemas.
Vineeth Sreenivasan goes into familiar territory with Hridayam and he has got most of the elements right, including the casting. The film could have been fifteen minutes shorter and tighter, by cutting out certain bits that weren’t essential to the plot but was possibly integrated into it as a regurgitation of Vineeth’s college memories.
Pranav Mohanlal is in his comfort zone, mouthing his lines in his characteristic westernized accent, which comes out really fine. Darshana Rajendran has much more screen time than Kalyani Priyadarshan and both of them have performed their parts well. Kalyani’s energy and humour would remind you of Urvashi more than her actor mother Lizy, but one wishes there was more of her in the film. Aswath Lal essaying Pranav’s buddy is refreshing and Aju Varghese has his moments.
Hesham Abdul Wahab’s music is also fresh and adds to the film. The “Onakka Munthiri” number (with just vocals) sung by debutante Divya, spouse of Vineeth Sreenivasan, stands out for its peppiness. Ranjan Abraham has done a fair job as editor as the film was apparently overshot by a mile, but could do with a bit more chopping.
Vineeth Sreenivasan has used Hridayam to convey some of his convictions of people and culture gained during his college days, and his enduring love for Chennai comes out as well. Viswajith Odukkathil cranking the camera has captured elements of Chennai life, a la Varane Avashyamundu, despite having to date it back to fifteen years. One major flaw in Vineeth’s writing is the use of many recent additions to Malayalam lexicon in mid-2000s, and fixating only on cell phones and automobiles to date it to that particular era.
Vineeth has utilized Pranav Mohanlal’s talent well, allowing the latter space to perform within his constraints. For Pranav, whom it is still early days, endearing himself to the audience is the major challenge and if he didn’t do that yet with his action flicks, he has ample scope to fix that here. Hridayam is eminently watchable and you are sure to leave cinemas with a lighter heart after watching it.
Rating: 3.5 Quints out of 5
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