Dreams in her eyes...

Dreams in her eyes...

Kerala filmmaker Anjali Menon’s debut film, Manjadikuru, was screened at the 43rd International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in the Indian Panorama Section.

A commerce graduate, Anjali completed her Master’s degree at the London International Film School and lived most of her life outside India, before settling down in Mumbai.

“My filmmaking career began in a long room with sloping roofs in London, where I wrote the first words on a second-hand laptop as a struggling student with big dreams. A few years later, I moved into our first production office in Mumbai, which was decorated with my father’s picture and a poster of the film. A big window with a lovely 10th floor view to let the fresh air in, and my dreams, comprised the rest of it,” she said.

Describing her film, she said, “The film starts with a 10-year-old boy named Vicky, who arrives in a small village in Kerala. The whole story is narrated to us by the grown-up Vicky, who returns to the same ancestral home years later.

His reflections are juxtaposed against the childhood visual narrative — bringing to life the magic of childhood and a past era. In the midst of infighting in the family and mourning, Vicky befriends his younger cousins Kannan and Maniikutty, and the servant girl Raja, while witnessing the changing pattern of relationships in their disintegrating family.”

“Manjadikuru (Re Seeds) is a film about families, nature and childhood as families and trees are the same everywhere and both comprise growth, rot and disintegration, and the eventual emergence of fresh naive sprouts. Like intertwined roots, stories of people emerge and mesh together, set in Kerala at a time and age when I was a child.

The film talks about 16 days from a child protagonist’s perspective and takes the story forward from there. The story describes how the family comes together to attend the funeral of the patriarch of the family. In these 16 days, we see the gradual disintegration and coming of age of the main characters,” she said, adding that this film has been a journey of discovery.

Awards galore

Manjadikuru bagged the FIPRESCI award for the Best Malayalam film at the 2008 International Film Festival of Kerala. In 2009, the film swept the awards at the South Asian International Film Festival in New York, winning five Grand Jury Awards, including Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematographer and Best Emerging Talent.

Born in Calicut, Kerala, Anjali grew up in Dubai and finished high school in Calicut before graduating with a degree in commerce from the Providence Women’s College. Besides that, she did post-graduation work in communication studies, specialising in TV production, in Pune. In 2000, she joined the London Film School, specialising in film direction, and was awarded overall distinction honors in editing, producing and directing films.

She started her career in 1997 with television, working on various documentaries, telefilms and programme designing projects in India, the Middle East and the UK, including The Time to Blossom, a documentary on Rubiya, a classical Indian dancer from Malappuram; Kalyani, a tele-film on street children; and Ila, a dance film based on a world music track. In 2006, she started Little Films, a film production company in Mumbai.

She made her feature film debut with Manjadikuru (2008), which also won the Hassankutty award for best debutant Indian director. Menon has also directed a short film, Happy Journey, for the Malayalam anthology film, Kerala Cafe.

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