The admirers of Puri Jagannadh can be divided into three categories.
1) The ardent fans who like him for his gritty style and execution. 2) Fans of certain heroes who feel their hero's heroism will be re-defined in the hands of this director. 3) Those who want to see how he plays with his heroine, villains and comedians to dish out some form of entertainment.
How much you like the director's films depends on which side of the divide you are in. The least you expect is a novel, or at least, some form of script that drives the film. Take a hero and squeeze the best performance out of him. Take a heroine (preferably new) and you know what to do with her. The most important are the villains and what they are up to. Fix them right and tadaa, a Puri's film is ready. That's the way Heart Attack is made.
The movie explodes with a bang of illicit trade of women in Goa. In recent times, every film has made the beautiful Goa look like a moll - dirty, used, and enticing with a dubious distinction for all the wrong reasons. Then it moves to Spain. It seems after Thailand Puri has found his muse in this European country.
Varun (Nithin) is a hippie, traveler, part-time worker, no-strings-attached relationship seeker. He is a peripatetic soul who frequents many places in the world and is never after money or family. There comes Hayati (Adah Sharma) and her friend Priya (Kesha Khambati). Now like every other hero Varun falls for the heroine, but not in love. He is aiming for something similar to a casual fling or just a KISS. He runs after her, tracks her down. The kiss happens after Hayati's long-winded explanation of what she interprets when someone asks for it; whether it's friendship, love, lust or gratitude.
Until a few minutes before the interval, you never try to scratch the surface of the comedy, songs and romance to look beneath; as the director reveals what's in store after interval, right at the start. The second half is set in Goa for a showdown with the villains. Hope by now, the end is quite evident and predictable. The interval timer where the KISS lasted for 143 min could be an allusion to his previous film, or peppering the scene with a condiment of love, or making the audience cognizant of the events that follow. Inferences are plenty.
Puri's craft is visible in the way he handled few moments which are tender and rare for a Tollywood film. Such type of love and caring were never expressed in such a mature, yet delicate manner. He colors a not so complex web with the mood and ambience that's magical. Amol Rathod's lens gets into the dark underbelly of Goa alongside unleashing the exotic side of Spain. The background score of Anup Rubens creates an effective aura for the locations and scenes. Most of his work marries Latino style. Endukilaa song stands out being a montage which conveys the pain and the traumatic situation in which the lead pair are in.
Like old habits; old school tricks and old style of film-making never dies. A staple that glares on your eyes is hero's search for the heroine with her picture in hand. That's a throwback to 80s or even before. To give a character arc for the hero we need another heroine who advocates him about love and brings out the unknown side of him. Here, it's the hero breaking into tears. Later on, his character stands as a testimony to a quote by Paulo Coehlo. If you don't know the quote, please go watch Om Shanti Om. Wait, that's not all. The atmosphere in which the lead pair breathes is reminiscent of Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani.
Nithin looked different and with this film he took his acting skills up by many notches. Adah Sharma is mediocre and not that gorgeous to rave about. In some scenes, Kesha was better than her. Brahmanandam's ISKCON Ramana never went overboard. His take on the color black and the film Titanic showcased the director's point of view of many love stories. He tried to inflict the same in Heart Attack.
At times, Heart Attack seems like a mash up of Iddarammayilatho and Pokiri and most of Puri's previous films. There are some racist overtones and the film went for a heavy in-film brand placement of Craigslist. So, next time when you need a job you know where to look for.
Surprisingly, in Heart Attack, Puri is toned down and underplays his archetypal style. Most part of the film hovers on the zone of a 'style sans substance' ensemble alongside moving at a neck-break speed.