Anjali Menon's Bangalore Days maps the transformative stage of three youngsters who happen to be cousins and best friends.
After Manjadikkuru, Anjali Menon is at the helm again. The writer-director is aware of the heightened expectations post the award-winning Ustad Hotel. As the much-anticipated multi-starrer Bangalore Days hits theatres today, Anjali shares the experience of making it. Edited excerpts from an e-mail interview:
The family has been your minefield for stories. Manjadikkuru delved into familial bonds – broken and intact; Ustad Hotel reclaimed relationships. Trailers of Bangalore Days (BD) appear to stress on the bond between cousins. Is the family framework a natural starting point when you conceive a story? What defines your approach to the family in BD and in what way is the treatment different from the other movies?
Yes, family does seem to recur in my works so far! “Friends are the family we choose” is a theme in the film – in this case they happen to be cousins. With cousins, it is a beautiful blend of friendship and family bond and there’s plenty to explore in that space. For anyone in their 20s, life is filled with energy, colour and hope – it’s a transformative stage that really shapes one’s life. That is the perspective through which the narrative unfolds.
BD comes at a time when your reputation as a director/scriptwriter is well-entrenched. The national and other awards have only heightened expectations.
I’ve been very fortunate as a newcomer. 2012 was an overwhelming year with both Manjadikkuru and Ustad Hotel. Audience appreciation and critical acclaim are what everyone dreams of and we were really blessed to get both. But somewhere inside I think every one knows all this is transient; the bigger privilege is being able to work from the heart.
Has the anticipation about your next work ever put pressure on you?
Expectations can confine. In fact, not going by industry norms or expectations had worked in my favour so far. After my first film, I wanted to make a fun movie about 20-somethings and that’s what I am doing. So rather than get caught up in things, it seemed best to keep my head down and work.
Can you elaborate the process of scripting this one – challenges/dilemmas? Any character that posed a challenge?
Honestly speaking, finding the time to script this one was more of a challenge because I was running after my toddler son, Madhav, most of the time. As any mother of a two-year-old will tell you, there is no time for anything in the world! So the writing had to happen in bursts and stops. From the onset, the Bangalore Days’ mood was simple, peppy and a wee bit irreverent, so that came easy… the challenging bit was in tracing their graphs together.
BD appears to be a casting coup boasting many actors with individual following/strengths. As a director, can you recount the experience of helming this multiplicity of talents.
The actors were fabulous to work with. The trust that emerged from them is what has made it possible. Each of them is doing something they have not done so far, yet they threw themselves into the characters with absolute gusto. For them, it was always about the film and not just about their own character. I am impressed by that kind of professionalism and their sense of fun even in the most demanding conditions.
Nazriya, Dulquer and Nivin had to spend the most time with us and they are just naughty, naughtier and naughtiest in a different order every day! None of us take ourselves too seriously and that helped to set the chemistry. When Fahadh, Parvathy, Nithya and Isha would join, it would become a total picnic… so much so that actors would turn up even on their days off!
You once said you only direct when you are particular about how you want a movie to be. What were the aspects you were particular about BD?
I had said that if I was particular about how a film should shape up then I wouldn’t give that script to another director. In Bangalore Days I was keen to have the chemistry and attitudes a certain way.
Where there instances when you had to dig deep into your resources as director while on shoot?
I think every film is a like a bungee jump, there is no holding anything back. All one has is what is within to draw from.
How would you describe BD? Having traversed the very personal journey of scripting it to the very collective process of filmmaking and now post-production, has BD evolved the way you envisaged?
Bangalore Days is a very simple film at its core… about people we all know, about dreams, relationships and how our environment can transform us and yet within, some things remain the same. Yes, right from the producer to the last person who keys in the end credits, every single person contributes in their own way towards bringing together the vision of the film. As writer and director, I have simply followed my heart. The proof of the pudding is in the eating it. So it’s from the audience response that we will know the answer to your question!