Filmmaker Anjali Menon is not excited even when her latest movie ‘Koode’ is running into packed halls garnering positive reviews from all corners. The director who delivered blockblusters like 'Ustad Hotel' and 'Bangalore Days' affirms that family comes first for her. Among those who hail cinema as their soul, Anjali repeats her stand that filmmaking is just her job. It is her unique opinions that make her stand apart from others.
Anjali speaks about her experiences as a filmmaker and her latest movie ‘Koode’.
What are your experiences as a female filmmaker who works in a male-dominated industry?
This is a job and we should be able to do it without any discrimination between the genders. A producer, director and a writer give shape for a movie, and this responsibility will always rest with them. There may have some cultural gaps between men and women. If the crew is not used to work alongside many women, it may create problems. We should find solutions for it and head forward.
What are challenges that you face as a female director?
A lot of patience is required to run a family. It is the same with movies as well. Everyone should have a feeling that this is their own movie. For me it is important that my crew feels that all of us are doing a movie together rather than my movie is done by everyone. A good movie can be produced only if this feeling of oneness is there. There may be people with different characteristic traits on the sets. It is important to understand and coordinate them. A filmmaker shouldn’t be like a commander-in-chief; instead he or she should guide everyone.
Are you scared about cyber attacks?
The fate of a movie too is as (late actor) Thilakan chettan says in Ustad Hotel, “kismath aanu mone” (it is all destiny my dear). It is the audience who decide whether a movie is good or bad. We cannot predict what they are going to decide. I don’t think any other external factor would influence the fate of a movie. Many ambitious projects have tanked at the box office, and the ones released hopelessly had become successful as well. It is indeed the first show which determines the fate of the movie. Nothing else can influence the failure or success of that film.
What led to the formation of the WCC?
We have been nursing such an idea in our hearts for the past few years. There are associations for women in other industries. I even had the opportunity to personally learn about the activities of such associations. We immediately formed a women’s association when an unfortunate incident happened. Women cannot open up about many problems. They face many challenges even outside the cinema industry. WCC was not formed as an organisation parallel to any other association. This is an organisation formed exclusively for the women.
Do you believe that it is a mistake to take a stand?
It is never a crime to openly state our opinions. But we should be careful about the ways we choose to express our opinions. We should utilise our freedom in such a way that it shouldn’t hurt anyone else. However, opinions should never be suppressed.
Why didn’t you direct 'Ustad Hotel'?
I was three months pregnant when I narrated that story to Anwar Rasheed. It was only when he came for the narration that he learned about it. I couldn’t direct a movie at that point of time. So I decided to pen the script. I really liked the short film ‘Bridge’ which was directed by Anwar. That is how I wrote that script for Anwar.
What do you think about actors Dulquer, Nivin and Fahad?
I really like all of them. They are my close friends as well. I watch all their movies with so much excitement. I am really happy for their incredible success.
Why do you have long intervals between movies?
For me, my family is everything. I have a son who is growing up. So I take time off to be with him during the significant period of his growth. Ask any mother, she would definitely say that the time until a kid turns five are precious moments which cannot be regained.
Is relationship your favorite theme?
Every writer has their own favourite topics. I realise that most of my films revolve around familial relationships, only when others point it out. ‘Koode’ too is about such relationships. We may not have seen the bond between a brother and a sister in so many films. The movie ‘koode’ focuses on such a theme. I have two elder brothers and I can’t explain the special bond that I share with both of them.
Married actresses rarely get offers to act. What made you cast Nazriya in the role?
As far as an actress is concerned her talent is important, not her marital status. When such a character came up, I thought it would suit Nazriya well. So I chose Nazriya for the role in 'Koode'.