A TRANSFORMATION OF THE HEART

I dread watching movies that open in a hospital – you know for sure that the ending would either be copiously tragic or unrealistically happy. So it was with utmost trepidation that I attended a friends and family show organized by celebrated fashion designer Vikram Phadnis for his debut directorial venture – Hrudayantar.

Our association with Vikram goes back a whole generation. His parents and my late in-laws were the best of friends, which has continued to the present generation (Vikram and his sister are very close to my wife and sister-in-law), and continues into the next (his niece and our daughter are very good friends). In fact, my in-laws played a major role in Vikram’s parents (both doctors) getting married! As a child, Vikram would keep repeating that when he grew up he wanted to be a part of the film industry just like Jatin Kaka (my late father-in-law). He took his initial tentative steps by starting out as a fashion choreographer and then graduated to being a fashion designer. He soon gained popularity and was a highly sought after designer for most of the top stars from the industry. Vikram initially floated the idea of directing a movie some thirteen years back, and had a script ready for the same. He had even announced his intentions and had spoken to a few stars too. Unfortunately, things did not work out the way he wanted them to, and saw his plans peter out, but Vikram never gave up on his dream. While his fashion designing flourished (he completed 25 years in the industry recently), he always kept the vision of making a movie in the forefront of his creatively active mind. About four years back, he rewrote the story, changed the patois from Hindi to Marathi, signed up some stellar Marathi actors and finally realized his dream – Vikram’s movie released last week to a rousing reception.

As far as the movie goes, the story is something that we have seen in many movies over the years. But the cinematic treatment, character development, direction, acting and most importantly scripting is outstanding, and believe me, I am not saying this just because I know Vikram personally. I have always believed that a good scene is where the dialogues are kept to the minimum and the script conveys the director’s vision – Hrudayantar has many such moments. Well-known actress Mukta Barve plays an ad professional who also manages her home, while Subodh Bhave plays her husband as a hotelier who has hardly any time for his family. They have both given exceptional performances – Mukta’s reaction in the scene where she comes to know about her daughter’s disease is heart-rending, and Subodh in the scene he gives a monologue explaining his perspective of the marriage breaking down is downright brilliant. But the movie belongs to the two child artistes who play their kids (Trushnika Shinde and Nishtha Vaidya) – they are mind-blowing. How Vikram managed to get such terrific performances from these debutantes is something of a wonder. When I asked him about this he was modest enough to say that they are natural born actors (but I know how good he is with kids). Just as their crumbling marriage breaks down completely, the couple are informed that their elder daughter (all of ten years) is a patient of leukemia. The family coping with this devastating news forms the crux of the movie. Dialogues are simple and the conversations feel like normal people discussing matters in their households. For those who do not follow Marathi, Vikram has done the subtitling himself – not a literal translation, but a contextual one which makes it easy to comprehend. For me the highlight of the movie were the scenes where the script makes the actors emote with just their understated facial expressions and restrained hand gestures. The music also ably supports the screenplay by being inclusive and not trying to go for cacophony in the name of exclusivity. Of course, there are a few minor flaws (it is a tad bit slow in the first half), but the overall effect of the movie more than makes up for it. Those close to me know that I rarely express my emotions while watching movies, but this one truly made me choke in some scenes. This movie truly brings about a Hrudayantar – a transformation of the heart.

This one is also a lesson for all married couples who, over a period of time into matrimony, tend to take each other for granted. This movie reiterates the fact that marriage is a complex institution which requires some adjustments, a little bit of compromise, a dash of pacification, coupled with lots of tender loving care (from both sides). The other take for me personally from this is that one should never give up on your dreams – Vikram took thirteen years to realize his! Walt Disney expressed this best when he said, “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them”. So dear reader, remember that it is never too late to pursue your dreams!

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