Bangalore Days review

Bangalore Days review

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Spoilers Ahead
Bangalore Days, directed by Anjali Menon, is a finely crafted film about three cousins: Divya (Nazriya Nazim), Arjun (Dulquar Salman), and Kuttan (Nivin Pauly) and their respective partners: Das (Fahadh Fazil), RJ Sarah (Parvathy), and Meenakshi (Isha Talwar). It has two major things going for it: fine writing and engaging twists on careworn cliches.
Along with the titles, we are shown a slideshow of childhood pictures of the cousins, and we immediately begin to root for them. Everyone in the film attains what they need through something they already have (if only as potential). Arjun passive-proposes to Sarah by graffiti’ing her portrait on a huge wall; early on when we were being introduced to him, he was vandalizing walls with graffiti and escaping cops. Divya goes back to Das after a brief separation, but doesn’t want to waste her time as a housewife; her already excellent marks in MBA entrance examinations help her get an admission. Arjun wants to accomplish something meaningful before marrying Sarah; and his expertise in riding bikes comes in handy: he wins a motocross race. Kuttan desperately desires companionship; he finds it rather easily in an unexpected flight trip. Arjun accidentally learns about Das’s past; this helps Divya reconcile with Das. Even though it sounds contrived when written out, we perceive all this as organic during the film.
Economical writing makes sure that we are always fretting about someone or smiling indulgently at the camaraderie on screen; no time to notice that the film includes only nice people: they may sometimes be upset or annoyed; but never mean, cynical or bitter. Everyone is pretty chilled out and optimistic: even say, Kuttan’s father who absconds to Goa and parties to escape debt, or his mother who takes this as great news and continues to live with redoubled zest.
Menon achieves economy in writing by dealing largely in stereotypical characters and cliches that are brought to life by sincere acting, subtle twists, and a virtually non-stop background score (Gopi Sunder) that unfailingly tells us exactly how to feel about what is happening on screen. Channeling Picasso’s “Bull”, she sketches vignettes in broad brush strokes, a style that allows her to pack a film with at least three full-bodied, evolving characters without making the whole thing tedious. She does falter when she is not dealing with familiar cliches though. For example, Meenakshi, an air hostess, hits on Kuttan, an old-fashioned nostalgic; and, they explode into an unconvincing romance that looks terribly superficial; writing has lapsed from spare to slurring. Menon does great disservice to Kuttan’s character and leaves him seesawing between innocent and infantile. In the end, by making him marry a random foreigner who is now dressed up as a Malayali, Menon goes for supercute instead of sensible. The film runs dangerously close to trivializing the very same desires that it ultimately seeks to ennoble: freedom and companionship.
Bangalore Days is one of those films that feels easy and organic while watching—contrived in retrospect. Still, it is a satisfying guided meditation featuring affirmations on how today’s youth really aspire to live.
Ashutosh Mohan

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