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, Anjali hopes people also watch and discuss her debut film Manjadikuru more often. Anjali's much-awaited Koode comes out this Saturday.
Both your films Manjadikuru and Bangalore Days dealt with relationships. How much do you draw from your own experiences?
Not much. A little bit, yes, but as our own life experiences are limited, we can't draw everything from that. That's where our imagination comes to play. Sometimes a character or a situation comes to you, and you create everything based off that. There are things happening around us that can be used as jumping off points. So I cannot say that everything is drawn from my own 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. And Manjadikuru was nothing like Bangalore Days. After seeing the songs of Koode, people are assuming that it's also going to be 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 have led many to conclude that Koode is a romantic drama.
There is a space for romance in Koode but it's 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 something?
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. You want to work with people who are very compatible and involved with your working method.
Which part of the filmmaking process do you enjoy the most?
Three, actually -- writing, working with actors, and post-production. 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've 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, which is 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 "female filmmaker" tag.
I think it's time that people stop using it and instead give more importance to the work, be it by 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 be about 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 dog 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.