Hridayam Review Rating: 3.5/5
What does it mean to grow?
What does it mean to find your purpose in life?
These are some of the heavy introspective questions that Vineeth Sreenivasan decided to tackle with his latest directorial – Hridayam.
Vineeth Sreenivasan, the brand
Vineeth Sreenivasan is a brand in Malayalam cinema and Vineeth Sreenivasan movies are a genre unto itself – one that provides a minimum guarantee. A minimum guarantee that his impeccable filmmaking skills and bewitching sense of music placement will deliver a memorable experience.
In Hridayam as well, he continuous to refine the filmmaker in him. But I’m more amazed at the growth of Vineeth Sreenivasan the writer, albeit with some flaws. Yes, we’ve had multiple coming of age stories – Ohm Shanthi Oshaana, Premam, June and so on. Hridayam in its essence is much closer to June where our protagonist’s love life is treated as just a part of their life. Arun’s studies, friendships, flaws, downfalls and inspirations are given a little more room to breathe. There is no plot in the movie as such. We just get to see a decade in Arun’s life unfold.
The 3 hour runtime
In multiple interviews, Vineeth mentioned that he had enough material for 2-3 movies and he had to let go of many arcs to make it a single movie. And I do not think he was kidding. Hridayam is around 3 hours long, and we really feel the weight of time. A movie like Banglore Days was around 3 hours long too, but those 3 hours almost breeze past us; mainly because we were following the stories of 3 different people.
In Hridayam, we are stuck with Arun throughout its length and it could’ve gotten very tiring if the character was not written or performed well. So you could say that Hridayam’s likeability does rest on what you make of Pranav Mohanlal’s ability to portray the character.
For the most part, I think Pranav has succeeded in portraying Arun believably. He was likeable but somewhat cringe during his college phase (ee koottathil collegil cheyth kootiya kaaryangale kurich orth cringe adikkathavar kalleriyatte!). He brought in some sense of depth and soul to the post-college Arun trying to figure out his life. One of the negatives I felt was that while life seems to be placing new challenges before him, we can’t sense the evolution within him, though there are a few dialogues that imply he’s a changed man.
Kalyani Priyadarshan lit the whole place up whenever she was on screen, but you feel she was given the short end of the stick when you realise her character probably wasn’t given enough to work with.
But out of the three leads, unsurprisingly, it is Darshana Rajendran who was the most kickass. She brings about a beautiful aura around her that makes it very easy to fall in love with her in the first half. The emotional restraint with which she performs in the second half was nothing short of spectacular. There’s a certain lack of inhibition she performs with that just draws you in.
The rest of the cast, including Aswath Lal, Ann Saleem, Arun and Darshana’s other batchmates were given ample space to perform. The biggest laughs in the movie were scored by the ever-dependable Johnny Antony.
When Hridayam was announced, there were mainly two things that raised eyebrows for many. The casting of Pranav Mohanlal and the absence of Shaan Rahman’s music.
Let me put that discussion to rest. Hesham Abdul Wahab’s music is the soul of the film. It’s very hard to walk out of the movie without at least one of the scores living rent-free in your head. He’s always delivered his 100% in all his previous music direction ventures, even when the movies did not deserve them. It’s so heartening to see Hesham getting the limelight he so rightfully deserves! His career will definitely be classified as pre and post Hridayam for sure.
Ranjan Abraham’s editing and Viswajith’s cinematography complemented the story beautifully. There are some spectacular match cuts that accentuate a few emotional apex points in the movie – specifically involving Darshana that was just amazeballs.
Hridayam, as a movie, seems to have been made for Millenials – trying to cash in on their nostalgia. The 2000s setting, Vineeth’s casting of Mohanlal’s son, Lissy Priyadarshan’s daughter and an actor who he openly said reminds him of yesteryear actress Karthika, and right down to the way he marketed the movie; with music CDs and audio cassettes and the much-touted return of Merryland Cinemas. Yes, I’m well aware that this is not the first time we’ve seen nostalgia being used to market a movie. Hey, if it ain’t broke, right?
Also Read: Small Joys Of A Malayali Childhood
As I said, Vineeth Sreenivasan is a brand that provides us with the minimum guarantee. That he will extract emotions from the simplest of scenarios; be it a walk on the beach or eating porotta beef, and intensifies the moment with soothing music and almost lyrical dialogues. Even if nothing else in the movie works for you, this probably should.