Cinema

The film that everybody loves

Bangalore Days

Bangalore Days  

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As I file this story, Mumbai has been battered by rain and there are traffic jams all around the city. In its seventh week now, Anjali Menon’s much-acclaimed Bangalore Days still has a few shows playing. Surely, I reason, there can’t be too many people watching a Malayalam film on one of the rainiest days of the season, braving rain and the dreaded traffic on LBS Road.

As I walk into the hall, I am surprised to find nearly 30 people, some probably seeing the film again.

As the Censor certificate warns about the film being 172 minutes long, I wonder about the relevance of three-hour films in these times, when everybody, not just the young, is hooked to their mobile phones and attention spans have dwindled to nothing. Three hours later, I am a convert. Good stories keep you glued to the screen and make time irrelevant.

Bangalore Days not just deserves its running time, but also our attention. While on the surface it feels like Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara done real (and right), you realise there’s a deeper reason why people connect to the film, while ZNMD was largely dismissed as another Dil Chahta Hai lookalike. Of course, ZNMD may have been rather unfairly underrated, but Bangalore Days, coming years after the Akhtars made their film, still stands tall and original.

One, because it is not about First World or rich people problems. Bangalore Days goes deeper into how we from the middle class cope with change — cultural, social and personal. And how the fabric of relationships, especially friendships, helps us navigate these winds of change.

Bangalore Days is the story of three cousins, who grew up rooted in Kerala and are now in modern Bangalore. Writer-director Anjali Menon takes her exploration of roots, identity and change further (remember Manjadikuru and Ustad Hotel?) and gives us a film that resonates deeply with us because it is, at some level, our own story of coping with change. It reminds us of our own journeys of coming to terms, fighting, resisting, or accepting change.

Was that her starting point, I ask. “Considering the high levels of awareness and exposure folks in Kerala have, there is an incredibly deep resistance to change. Everyone meets this resistance in their early 20s or even earlier. Few choose to find their own path… most choose to fall in line. The starting point for me was about individuals faced with this choice and how each one comes into his or her own, stepping out of the usual ways,” she says.

Menon tells us these stories through some endearing characters and heart-warming situations, and if the situations (daddy issues, marital discord and dysfunctional families) have been used before, it is the treatment and nuances that make Bangalore Days an immensely watchable and satisfying experience. “Am guessing the characters, relationships and situations are identifiable to most people, so when they see it presented with a touch of humour, they’re connecting to it personally. Of course, the feel-good factor reigns,” says Menon, on why she thinks the film works.

Bangalore Days released in over 105 theatres outside Kerala (with English subtitles) and is looking at another 100 theatres abroad. If it’s playing in your city, go catch it. The film about change is the refreshing change we want to see in our cinema.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 7:56:30 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/the-film-that-everybody-loves/article6229046.ece

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