Hridayam is Vineeth Sreenivasan’s attempt at making his kind of Vaaranam Aayiram. And it isn’t a perfect film, just like the Gautham Menon film. Coming-of-age dramas that depict a transition that lasts more than a decade are bound to have certain areas with hiccups. But it’s the totality that matters in these kinds of films. In the case of Hridayam, Vineeth Sreenivasan manages to create a structure and fill it with relatable moments.
Arun Neelakandan is our central protagonist. He joins this engineering college named KC Tech in Chennai. There he meets a lot of people, and also his first love, Darshana. But the campus life had its rough patches, and the relationship didn’t last much, and Arun evolved a lot in that four years. What we see in Hridayam is the events in those four years and how it shapes Arun as a person after campus life.
In the last quarter of the movie, there is a scene where Darshana asks Arun a what-if scenario. And there is a reply to that question from Arun. The idea of Hridayam is basically to show us how Arun evolves to shape that answer from his own life experience. The doubt and fear in Darshana’s question and the clarity and warmth in Arun’s answer is something I feel many people in that 30-40 age-groups can easily relate to. The format of the screenplay is very simplistic. And Vineeth Sreenivasan treats the drama without necessarily trying to place the emotions to a particular phase of the film. It’s not like the movie enters a dark phase once the campus life ends. Like Premam, we also have humor and emotional bits happening at different patches of the hero’s life.
I wasn’t a fan of Pranav’s first two films as the lead character, and rather than acrobatics, both films never really approached him as an actor. But in Hridayam, I would say Pranav Mohanlal fits the mold. He is at ease and feels more interested in playing the character. In a way, the film offers him a space to portray various shades of a character, and I feel this character and the performance give the audience an assurance that he has the potential.
Both female leads may have a prominent role in shaping the hero’s life, but in terms of performance, the space is relatively minimal. But even within that limited space, Darshana Rajendran manages to create a solid impression. In comparison with Kalyani’s Nithya, Darshana is a character who also evolves along with Arun. The charmer aspect and also the vulnerable moments were performed beautifully by her. Kalyani Priyadarshan’s Nithya is more of a lighter character. She enters the story after the complications have ended, and thus the character feels more like that sweet and bubbly one. Aju Varghese, Arun Kurian, Annu Antony, Vijayaraghavan, Johny Antony, and a slew of new faces are there in the film. And the performance of Ashwath Lal was memorable.
The two halves of the movie have an entirely different tonality. The first one is full of drama and trauma for the characters. From heartbreaks to demises of loved ones, it’s the most eventful part of the movie. The second half of the movie is actually the lighter one where you have Arun and Darshana in a rather content space, and the events are not that complex. In fact, you see Nithya in a more clumsy state, and Arun is the more level-headed guy in the room. Ultimately Hridayam is a tribute to the campus life that contributes heavily to shaping up a person. It is not devoid of the flaws that come in coming-of-age films. Some areas get a hurried narrative, maybe because Vineeth Sreenivasan couldn’t chop it off on a screenplay level.
Viswajith’s cinematography is not that loud. You have these stylized frames for the cheesy moments, and occasionally he plays with lights to create the mood. The tilt of frames that were there only for dramatic questions was also a good creative choice. Ranjan Abraham’s cuts worked really well in the second half, where the story evolved rapidly through montages. Hesham Abdul Wahab’s soundtrack is the soul of this movie, and the narrative blends the music effectively to make it less like a musical overdose. The tracks keep the movie in a lively space, and I guess it might help you relive the whole film once you listen to it after finishing the film.
Hridayam is Vineeth Sreenivasan trying to blend his typical style of entertainer making in a story that showcases the journey of a boy to man. It’s not an instantly overwhelming film. But the dilemmas of some characters and the answers they get for their concerns by the end of the film might make Hridayam a film that will age well in the future. For a roughly three hours long movie, not being exhausting itself feels like a great achievement, especially in a pandemic era.
The dilemmas of some characters and the answers they get for their concerns by the end of the film might make Hridayam a film that will age well in the future.
Green: Recommended Content
Orange: The In-Between Ones
Red: Not Recommended