There were sporadic claps from the audience, for a name here and a name there in the title cards. It was the loudest when the director’s name came. Four years after Bangalore Days, people seem to have simply counted the days to Anjali Menon’s new one – Koode.
The first few minutes appeared too serious for an Anjali movie, if you were looking for the fun you saw in Bangalore Days. So you notice the other things. The focus on the layers of raindrops that Littil Swayamp takes his camera through. The music that still doesn’t take away the melancholy on the screen. Raghu Dixit’s first in Malayalam is going to stand out.
It is again through music that we know the mood is going to change. A string instrument casts magic here, and throughout the film. All the coldness in the house of a sad family begins to fade in a moment. Prithviraj’s nonchalance turns into surprise and slow joy. He as Joshua Thomas has not come home a happy man. His parents are seeing him after four years.
Joshua is given his little sister’s room. The room introduces us to Jenny even before we see her. Paper butterflies hanging from the ceiling, pencil drawings of birds on the wardrobe, all of them saying “paranne” – meaning "I flew".
Here is where Anjali moves away from the humans and takes the help of a dog and a van. The dog Brownie is just always there. Her movements mean something. The van is where a large chunk of the film is going to happen. Easily explaining that first poster that Koode came out with, three people on top of a van.
Nazriya’s name should not have been dragged to the sixth paragraph of the review. While it's really good to see her back on the big screen as Jenny, the first many lines seem to go overboard. She is full of energy as she had been in the Om Shanthi Oshana days. But it is not easy to put it down as that’s how the character is – hyper. Because hyper should still feel real, not forced.
It is not fair either to harp on it, for the actor, coming back after four years, does not let you down when she brings emotions to her face. When she throws her head on the big brother’s shoulder and when she plays with Brownie.
Jenny transforms her brother. The lifeless Joshua that Prithvi plays really well gets a life. Joshua suits Prithvi perfectly. He is beautifully subtle. Parvathy too. That’s the third character on the van in the poster – Sofia. She switches charismatically from the emptiness of her miserable life to the slightly cheered up Sofia finding love.
If you think about it, there is a lot of transforming lives in the movie. Anjali, without making it obvious, tells how years could change lives so much. Coach Ashraf played by Atul Kulkarni is one such. The lead characters, too. All the three child actors need special mention. Especially the casting of Subin as Prithvi's younger version. He even looks like a miniature Prithvi.
Anjali continues to prove her brilliance when it comes to portraying relationships. Easily conveying emotions without a lot of polished words. Roshan Mathew in the little role that he plays as Krish does this when he tells Joshua about Jenny. Darshana, playing her friend, too does. Perhaps one of the best examples comes from director Ranjith, who plays Joshua’s and Jenny’s dad in the film. It’s not Ranjith’s famous booming voice that you remember from the film, it’s the dad’s simple and most natural affection.
Maala Parvathy as the mom and Nilambur Aysha as the grandmom – Anjali has not forgotten to leave any of the talents unused. For her comedy doses, there’s the adorable Pauly Wilson and the lead characters, too, have their moments.
You never feel the time passing till all 155 minutes are over and the end credits still keep you in your seats for the final song. You might lazily categorise it as a 'feel good' movie. But that would not be fair to Anjali or her crew. One can say that Koode - 'With You' - helps you find the meaning of the word, and all that it contains, in the most beautiful way.
Disclaimer: This review was not paid for or commissioned by anyone associated with the film. Neither TNM nor any of its reviewers have any sort of business relationship with the film's producers or any other members of its cast and crew.