Anjali Menon’s directorial debut Manjadikuru: Lucky Red Seeds (2012) won accolades across the globe owing to its inherent innocence and a perpetual sense of belonging. Chris Fujiwara from The International Federation of Film Critics said, “It is a lesson in the ways of society but a metaphorical lesson for the audience, the kind of lesson that the cinema was invented to teach.” Anjali Menon explored the basic human emotion which connects beyond any culture and language barrier, and the simplistic approach overwhelms where the organic journey of the seeds is metaphorically attached to the journey of a person finding his own roots. As I enter adulthood, Manjadikuru keeps unravelling itself through miraculous ways – the fact, it upholds the perspective where children are perplexed by the adult world still fascinates as well as deeply resonates.Anjali Menon’s second directorial Bangalore Days (2014) feels like an extension of Manjadikuru where the children are now grown up in form of Kunju-Kuttan-Aju, and want to hold on their child-like innocence. Bangalore Days revolves around three cousins who set out to fulfil their Bangalore dreams; without a hint of pretentiousness, Anjali Menon presented an authentic metropolis drama where the characters ran deep in resonance and the city drenched in its heartfelt warmth. “Every Malayali has an image of Bangalore in his/her mind. For some of us, it is not just another city. The city actually prompts you to dream. While in Kerala, you have so many social norms and limitations, once you cross the border you have this feeling that anything is possible, be it in your career, lifestyle or travel. The city can change you, though all may not like the ambience.” exclaims Anjali Menon. It’s not just about Bangalore, it’s about the freedom, realisations, dreams and bond you encounter out of your comfort zone; hence, Bangalore Days strikes chords across two generations.
Kunju (Nazriya), Kuttan (Nivin Pauly) and Aju (Dulquer Salmaan) realise their childhood dream in an unusual manner, Anjali Menon weaves a thread of subtle emotions and moments featuring the three which keeps pondering long after its gone. Whether it’s Aju brashness shadowed by silence, Kuttan’s conservative thoughts being demolished or Kunju’s exuberance amidst a problematic relationship, every bit of emotion thunders an enigmatic writing – a visionary observation. Hence, the reel characters run close to real life and run deeper as the film progresses. Be it the secondary characters, the housemaid Chinnamma at Kunju’s or Kuttan’s happily separated parents living minus the drama or even Nithya Menon in a conventional yet an absorbing cameo, every character has a unique dimension and ineptness.Cinematographer Sameer Thahir mounts a stunning contradictory canvas featuring picturesque Kerala and distinct cityscape of Bangalore. Gopi Sunder’s vibrant and fresh soundtrack adds warmth especially through “Ethu Kari Raavilum”, enchanting classical touch and “Maangalyam”, a peppy wedding song. Although, Dulquer Salmaan’s Aju is the most conventional character written, as an actor Dulquer proves his versatility through the angst and undertaking of sublime emotions. Nazriya pulls off exuberance with incoherent innocence, she mends the emotions through vulnerability; hence, displaying a range of emotions. Nazriya took a hiatus and returned with a similar character role in Anjali Menon’s Koode (2018). Nivin Pauly as the “cute Kuttan” is a character who never had the scope of exploration, Nivin pulls up the sleeves and delivers a sway performance. Fahadh Faasil’s character stiff and overpowering screen presence makes way for the most expressive performance in the 172 minutes long film. Parvathy as RJ Sarah is an another interesting character who is full of confidence yet sharing chunk of insecurities; also, her paraplegia isn’t a tool for sympathy.
Anjali Menon’s Bangalore Days is a film with overpowering sublime moments to form a larger perspective, these sublime moments show insight into human behaviour and relationships; a significant progression for a collective and an enriching experience. When regional film releases were rare outside the home state, Bangalore Days managed to travel from one show on the opening day to five shows over the weekend. Till today, Kunju-Kuttan-Aju feel closer than the real cousins or I suppose, it’s the magic of cinema(?).
Release: 30 May, 2014
Available on HOTSTAR
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