Hridayam Malayalam Movie
Vineeth Sreenivasan's Hridayam is about how the different experiences in an engineering college change the life of one man. It talks about ragging, fooling around on campus, campus love and obsession. At the heart of it, Hridayam is a poem about loving someone and learning to let the past go while treasuring the little moments that come along the way.
The movie mainly shows the different phases in the life of Arun Neelakandan (Pranav Mohanlal) and his college friends. Arun moves to Chennai to pursue engineering there, but he soon realizes that it is a long and arduous endeavor. Love, booze, fights with seniors, failures in exams, friendship, loss and longing. An engineering student probably has been through it all. There is a notion that you would succeed elsewhere if you come out of engineering with flying colors. I do not know if there is some truth to it, but Arun's journey seems long and arduous enough to be the stepping stone to success.
I have not studied engineering, so I could not relate to everything that Vineeth shows in the movie. But some things in college are the same whether or not you are an engineer. Take, for instance, that guy who appears for an exam stoned out of his mind and ends up sleeping on the answer sheet. You probably have seen it somewhere other than a toddy shop. Hridayam has many such dejà vu moments.
Darshana Rajendran plays Darshana, a girl from college whom Arun falls in love with. It is probably a version of Darshana Rajendran herself. For instance, the character sings beautifully, just like the actor does in real life. Speaking of music, Hesham Abdul Wahab has a stellar background score for Hridayam, and the movie has many lovely tracks. The Darshana track is so lovely that you could end up hearing it on a loop for days. It also acts as a window to the heart and soul of Hridayam's protagonist, a bit like the Malare song for Premam's George.
Hridayam is not as profound, clinical or intense as Premam. It is tricky to condense the different chapters in a man's life into a three-hour film, though. You can only do so much in those three hours or so. It is also impossible to not like this movie. That said, I did find some portions in the second half to be eating into the screen time. Take the return of an old foe to Arun's life, for instance, or an unnecessary song at the start of the second half.
There is perhaps not enough conviction in the transformation of Arun from an innocent young man into a scoundrel and vice versa. The love story has depth but does not become as intense as you want it to be. Vineeth stays a bit too long in his comfort zone of feel-good cinema as well. But none of the above matters as you do not merely watch this film. Rather, it is an experience you perhaps give in to.
The movie works because Vineeth has a knack for sensitive storytelling and offers us a hero to root for. Pranav Mohanlal takes a bit of time to sink his teeth into the character, but he wins you over with his charm alone. This is an extremely likeable actor with an ever-improving range of emotions. You sense the resemblance to his great actor father when Pranav does that pirouette-like thing. It is just lovely.
Darshana Rajendran is the strongest actor of the lot, with perhaps the most complex character here. She does it with so much ease while making Darshana neither too likeable nor too dark. It is wonderful to see how her character develops in the movie. Kalyani Priyadarshan is such a charming, beautiful and supremely confident actor. Vineeth's film also has many young and emerging actors in small yet interesting roles, like Aswath Lal as Antony Thadikkaran and Kalesh Ramanand as Selva. The character of Selva is superb and a bit profound.
Google still describes Vineeth Sreenivasan as an Indian playback singer. Hridayam is further evidence that there is more to him than just a one-trick pony. I would not say that Vineeth directs the movie in the most perfect way, but it is very much a director's film. The directorial voice shines through it.