Anjali Menon’s 'Bangalore Days' creates history
By Shreedhar Pillai
Anjali Menon’s Bangalore Days, a Malayalam film is making waves at the box-office and is turning out to be one of the biggest hits in history of Malayalam cinema. Bangalore Days features the Generation Next of Malayalam cinema actors, Dulquer Salmaan ( Superstar Mammootty’s son), Fahadh Faasil (veteran director Fazil’s son), Nivin Pauly, Nazriya Nazim, Parvathy Menon, Isha Talwar and Nithya Menen .
The film, which released last Friday (30 May) in 98 screens in Kerala and 105 screens across the rest of India (mainly metro cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore), has earned nearly Rs 10 crore at the all India box-office, with a distributor share of Rs 4 to 4.5 crore in the very first week. This is phenomenal by any yardstick, as usually, Malayalam films release simultaneously only in a dozen screens outside of Kerala. The film has opened up new markets for Malayalam cinema. Menon has come out with a film which is young, vibrant, colourful and peppy and is attracting youth as well as family audiences.
Not just that, she has broken the myth that in Malayalam cinema only a male director can deliver a commercial success at the box-office. In the past, yesteryear actresses Vijaya Nirmala (Kavitha - 1973) and Sheela (Yakshaganam - 1976) and recently Revathy Varma (Mad Dad – 2012) tried their luck with directing films, but failed to create an impact. Trade sources say that Menon’s film has been able to attract the youth as well as family audiences, which is rare for a Malayalam film.
Menon, born and educated in Kozhikode, had moved to Dubai and is now settled in Mumbai. She started her career in 1997 with television and worked on various documentaries. Her first film as a writer and director — Manjadikuru (2008), the story of a 10-year-old boy who returns to his village to attend the funeral of his grandfather — won her critical acclaim and awards. Later, she was part of the anthology film Kerala Cafe (2009). She also directed the short film Happy Journey which got her recognition as a story teller. But it was with Ustad Hotel (2012) that she proved that she had the potential to make a commercial entertainer. She won the prestigious National Award for ‘Best Screenplay’ in 2012 for the film.
Bangalore Days is about the lives of three cousins who were close to each other since childhood. The cousins - Arjun (Dulquer), Krishnan (Nivin) and Divya (Nazriya) - are placed at the centre of the narrative and they end up in Bangalore, in search of their identities. Bangalore, for the average Malayalee, is a dream destination with its IT companies, pubs and fast life.
Menon's films have always harped on family and relationship. Speaking to Firstpost, Anjali says, "Yes my films have strong family connections and the theme in Bangalore Days is ‘Friends are the family we choose’ and in the film they happen to be cousins. It is a beautiful blend of friendship and family bond that I have explored and it connected with today’s audiences because there is so much to remember as well as the optimism of the early 20’s as the narrative unfolds.”
About the title, Anjali said, "For an average Malayalee guy or girl, Bangalore has got a connect as it is an aspirational city, a place offering a lot of hope. Bangalore Days is a very simple film at its core, about people we have come across, about dreams and relationships.”
About her style of film-making Menon says, "For me content is king. It has to be rich, inspiring and has to have many layers to it and should connect to basic human emotions. Once my script is ready, I do the casting based on characterisation. For Bangalore Days the mood was simple, peppy but tracing their graphs together was difficult."
On her casting coup of bringing together the hot and happening young guns of Malayalam films, Menon said, "All my actors were fabulous to work with as each of them knew their roles and there was terrific chemistry between them which showed on screen. I think I was able to package it well with the aid of a good technical team like music director Gopi Sundar and cameraman Sameer Thahir."
Bangalore Days gives some substance to the contention that a new age has dawned in Malayalam cinema. Challenging the myth that women are only concerned with making issue-based cinema, Menon has now created a new box-office record with her film.
Suresh Shenoy of Shenoys Theatre Complexes in Ernakulam says, "We have, over the last several years, seen a lot of hits and super hits but I would classify Banglore Days as a super bumper mega hit. The casting is a coup of sorts and the way it is packaged with eye catching camera work and music, along with Anjali Menon’s script and presentation, worked with the youth and family audiences. The film is going to be a trendsetter and change the way we used to make movies."
Updated Date: Jun 09, 2014 18:58 PM