Koode Malayalam Movie ReviewFeature Film | Drama
Koode is a heart-warming tale about the importance of relationships in life. The third feature film by Anjali Menon takes time to get going but it's one that pulls our heartstrings. It is often the case with the filmmaker who gave us 'Manjadikkuru' and 'Bangalore Days', and even 'Usthad Hotel' as a writer.
The narrative of Koode centers on a brother and sister Joshua (Prithviraj) and Jennie (Nazriya Nazim). Still, even their van and the dog named "Brownie" has something enchanting about them. The movie is beautifully shot by Littil Swayamp in the tree-lined locations in Ooty and has a melancholic feel. For the good part of the film there is a forlorn sense of grief, which is marked by the fog that mirrors the emotions of its characters. Yet, they have an endearing quality to turn that forlorn into richly rewarding something.
What could I reveal about the plot of Koode? Not much, except that Joshua comes back home after a childhood spent in the heat of the Gulf. The backstory of Joshua has all the baggage of what makes most of us travel overseas - to burden the responsibility of a struggling family back home. The ancestral home, which drives the narrative of most of Anjali Menon's films, is nowhere to be seen in Koode. Yet, there is a sense of homecoming and a strong bonding that we all gets to call "home." There is also several references to the game of football - that she is subverting from a set pattern bodes well for legions of Anjali Menon fans.
The movie's narrative has a magical realism. More often than not, one got the feeling that the plot is so surreal that it cannot be both things - magical and realistic - at the same time. It's hard to buy into the surrealism, which forms the foundation for the Nazriya Nazim character. That hardly matters because if a film is destined to be as endearing as Koode, then everything else side tracks. Nazriya's character is one which Anjali Menon uses as a narrative tool to tell the transformation of Joshua. It's his story, really, and the rest of the characters play a supporting role.
The delicate relationship which Jennie and Joshua form in Koode is one that seems more like best buddies and melts the heart. It is exquisite and at no point seemed forced into the narrative. And, the filmmaker skilfully plays with the persona of her stars - Nazriya the more talkative and Prithviraj the quieter of the two. Which explains dialogues like "is there even a point in such seriousness, one day we all are going to pass away."
Though, there is more to Koode than the bonding between these two characters. There is also that weary old man, Aloshy, who works as a small-time mechanic struggling to make ends meet. The casting of Aloshy, Joshua and Jennie's father, director Renjith is a masterstroke. The script gives Aloshy several overpowering moments, including a quiet one which shows how much he cares for Joshua. The revelatory nature of the scene, which shows the mechanic father working on a model train set from Joshua's childhood, harkens back to similar scenes from Anjali Menon's earlier films. We find it as revelatory as Aju showing a mural of his lover RJ Sarah in 'Bangalore Days'.
The casting helps set the equation between Aloshy and his estranged son straight. The chemistry they share in Koode seems more like that of a foster parent and an adopted son. It is aided by Prithviraj's searing intensity and endearing quality. In his 100th film, Prithvi gives us a performance for the ages. Then, there is Sophie, which is an almost silent role but Parvathy makes it her own. The directions her character go through is equally fascinating to watch in Koode, yet Anjali Menon insists that the movie is more about the siblings.
No one would have imagined Prithviraj and Nazriya as brother and sister. Their chemistry is so wonderful that at times it is hard to fight back tears, and other times not to break out in laughter. Anjali Menon's craft reminds us of an old filmmaking notion - to play the audience like a piano. A piano has black and white keys, the sort of emotions which the characters in Koode goes through. At one point, even an eulogy turns out to be a reference to a 'dappankuthu' song thus bringing a contrasting response from the audience. Is that better than pushing the sentimental button with a violin in the background? Most certainly.