Times are changing and actors are finding it challenging [and lucrative, in many cases!] to hold the production/directorial reins in their hands. Last week, Abhay Deol's production debut ONE BY TWO made it to cineplexes. This Friday, it is Shekhar Suman's rendezvous with destiny. He helms the project that's produced by his wife [Alka] and stars son [Adhyayan] as the protagonist.
Continuing with the trend of making films that go beyond the routine masala, Shekhar's directorial debut HEARTLESS is a thriller that focuses on the medical profession. The very first promo of the film made people draw parallels with Joby Harold's 2007 film AWAKE. The question is, is HEARTLESS a replica of that film? The fact is, HEARTLESS is an adaptation of AWAKE, albeit with changes and modifications to suit Indian sensibilities.
HEARTLESS narrates the story of Aditya aka Addy [Adhyayan Suman], who lives with his dominating, but caring mother Gayatri [Deepti Naval]. While on a business trip to Dubai, Addy falls in love with Riya [Ariana Ayam], who works at the plush hotel he resides in.
Addy, who is not fully under anesthesia, can hear the conversations as his chest is sliced open. A startling truth and a chain of unanticipated occurrences come to the fore at this point…
What happens when a patient has not been given the required dosage of anesthesia on the operation table? What happens when he gets to know of the conspiracy hatched by people close to him? What happens when he's unable to cry out for help? The terrifying drama unfolds inside an operation theatre as the protagonist goes under the knife.
There's no denying that Shekhar borrows from AWAKE, but he gives an altogether different spin to this genre. Let it be known that HEARTLESS is not the usual run of the mill love story, nor can you guess what's in store as the plot thickens. At least those who aren't aware of AWAKE wouldn't be in the know of the basic premise of the film.
Shekhar manages to keep the mystery alive till the middle of the second half, but the moment the cat is out of the bag, the writing goes for a toss. The subject [heart transplant] ought to be handled with utmost sensitivity, but the writer treats it in the most slapdash manner. Even the penultimate portions of the film — with Om Puri suddenly carrying out the operation and Adhyayan coming back to life — appears formulaic. Moreover, the backstory of Adhyayan's father's demise adds to the length of the film. Even the entire police angle [in the end] looks hurried. Prior to that too many songs in the first half makes it been-there-seen-that kind of a love story.
There's no denying that Shekhar Suman has handled several chunks of the movie well, especially the emotional connect between the mother and son. In addition, he needs to be credited for giving it his best, in terms of scale and mounting. However, it would've worked wonders had the writing complimented his efforts. I reiterate, the writing fails to milk the concept towards the second hour specifically. Also, Shekhar could've avoided the gory visuals inside the operation theatre.
The soundtrack is easy on the ears, with two lilting tracks — 'Mashooqana' and the title track [which is filmed imaginatively]. The DoP captures the stunning locales of Dubai with finesse. Besides, the film bears a chic look through and through, which is a plus.
HEARTLESS is meant to be the re-launch vehicle for Adhyayan and the youngster makes the most of it. Although it's a difficult part to portray, he is persuasive enough, more so during the dramatic moments of the enterprise. It's nice to see the youngster back after a hiatus. Ariana looks pretty and surprises you with a confident performance. Shekhar Suman is adequately restrained, giving his son the liberty to stand out. Deepti Naval is commanding and delivers a classy performance. Om Puri gets limited scope. Madan Jain is alright.
On the whole, HEARTLESS is made with a lot of heart, but appears partly engaging. Shekhar Suman, the director, knows his job, but the writing lets him down. However, what you carry home is the wonderful performance by Adhyayan.