Koode is nothing like Bangalore Days: Anjali Menon
The director talks to us about her new film Koode, her working method, and why she dislikes the "female filmmaker" tag
Already a household name in not just Kerala but also the rest of India, director Anjali Menon doesn't need an introduction. Though it was Bangalore Days that got her wide recognition, she wishes people would also watch and discuss her debut film Manjadikkuru. Anjali's much-awaited Koode comes out this Saturday.
Excerpts from an interview with the filmmaker:
Both your films Manjadikkuru and Bangalore Days dealt with relationships. How much do you draw from your own experiences?
A little bit here and there, yes, but as our own life experiences are limited, we can't draw everything from that. That's where imagination comes into play. Sometimes a character comes to you and sometimes it's a situation, and you construct everything around that. There are things happening around us that can be used as jumping off points. So I cannot say that everything is inspired from my life.
How different is Koode from your previous films?
It's nothing like Bangalore Days, I can tell you that. Even though I've made two films, most people have only seen Bangalore Days. Manjadikkuru was nothing like Bangalore Days. After seeing the songs of Koode, people are assuming that it's going to be just like Bangalore Days. That's not the case. I hope they don't go into Koode with those expectations.
The song Vanaville from the film has led many to conclude that Koode is a romantic drama.
There is a space for romance in the film but Koode is not just restricted to that. I'd like to say that Koode goes through several moods.
Has anyone told you that your films are not realistic just because they couldn't relate to it?
I'm sure there is a section of people who hold that view; but my films are meant for those who can relate to them, and naturally, they're the ones who call me and tell me that they liked it. When you have a worldview of your own, you want to connect more with those who share your sensibilities, right?
You're working once again with Prithviraj, Parvathy, and Nazriya. Do you find it more comfortable working with previous collaborators?
I find it much easier working with repeat collaborators and I'm sure they also feel the same way. You want to work with people who are compatible and involved with your working method.
Which part of the filmmaking process do you enjoy the most?
Three parts, actually -- writing, working with actors, and post-production. Of these, I find writing more relaxing because it's tension-free, at least for me. Watching actors perform is something else that gives me joy. But it's post-production that I enjoy the most. You may have wanted something in the beginning but once you get to post-production, you have to work with whatever you got. There's something quite exciting about that. It's a process that requires you to pay a lot of attention, in the presence of just two or three people. Whereas with direction, you are interacting with many people throughout the day, and it's an energy consuming process. But I enjoy that as well. It's just that I'm more relaxed when I'm in my own quiet space.
Have there been moments where you felt the emotional beats in a scene were right during filming but slightly off during the editing process?
When it comes to emotional beats, we can't say which is right or wrong, because your way of reacting to a situation may be different from how an actor would react. So you have to provide the actors a space to allow them to do what they feel is right and how they would react to that particular situation, and then you can ask them to make small adjustments. And that goes for deciding the camera movements as well. I don't tell them that I'm going to set up the camera this way and they have to act accordingly -- no. I allow their performances to dictate the camera movements.
You said in a recent interview that you dislike the tag 'female filmmaker'.
I think it's time that people stop using it and instead give more importance to their work, be it a man or woman. The work of a filmmaker shouldn't be judged on the basis of their gender. At the end of the day, you're going to watch a film, and it shouldn't matter whether a man or a woman made it. It should be all about their work.
Do you prefer watching feel-good films more or are you into dark films too?
I'm not much into dark films. I would say that I'm into emotionally dark films. I prefer watching and making films with a strong emotional quotient.
There is an adorable Labrador in both Bangalore Days and Koode. Can we call it one of your trademarks?
(Laughs) Yes, I love animals. A pet is your constant companion regardless of what phase you're going through in your life, be it success or failure. And the dog in Koode has a special significance. It's another character in the film.