Tracing the Sibling Rivalry in Anjali Menon Films

When you watch an Anjali Menon film, it’s just not about the breathtaking visuals or the soothing music. There is a sense of discomfort and an unusual pain that you experience. There is also a celebration and catharsis. And that’s because of how effectively she blends reality with fiction.

Whether it is her debut feature Manjadikuru or Bangalore Days or Koode, you would always experience and relate to the plot. The narrative is so real that it will reek in moments of nostalgia, let your heart whine in pain at the loss of a loved one and celebrate what most childhood bonding was made of – the relationship one shared with siblings or cousins.

I have watched the three features of Anjali Menon – Manjadikuru, Bangalore Days and Koode, and in all three films, she has beautifully captured the essence of sibling rivalry and the dysfunctional family relationships. It is as if a part of your own life’s screenplay is being played on screen.

In Manjadikuru, when an innocent ten-year-old Vicky comes from Dubai to his ancestral home in Kerala, he finds himself in an uncomfortable situation. He is lonely and clueless until he meets his cousins Kannan and Manikutty. Also, Roja, the maid, plays an important role in getting the trio together. As the film progresses, it’s through the eyes of these 3 kids that the film unravels. Kannan and Manikutty transform the vulnerable Vicky into the curious and free-spirited lad who otherwise is shy. Despite the dysfunctionality that exists between their families, the trio hangs in together, just like a modern-day version of our own lives.

A similar trait is seen in Menon’s second feature Bangalore Days. Divya (Kunju) and Krishnan (Kuttan) are the stronger force behind the brash Arjun’s transformation into a more responsible and a mature individual. Again, here, despite Divya and Kuttan’s families being highly objectionable to Arjun’s parents’ divorce, the cousins bond and bring the house on fire!

And lastly, Koode takes this rivalry further as Jenny (even though she’s not had a chance to be physically present) drives Joshua to live a life without worry, to forget the trauma of his troubled childhood and enjoy every moment.

It’s interesting how filmmaker Anjali Menon beautifully blends the common theme of sibling rivalry across these three powerful films in her own distinctive style. And, every single film makes its way to our hearts, leaving us with a bag full of emotions.

Even in a film like Ustad Hotel (which Menon wrote the screenplay for), the bonding between Faizi and his sisters seems exactly the way it is in her directorial ventures.

It is for this reason that I always look forward to watching an Anjali Menon film. If there was a face for buddy-films, I guess she definitely tops the list!

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