Bangalore Days – Malayali Multicultural Modernity

Bangalore.  A multicultural metropolis with crowded streets, umpteen shopping malls, and fast-paced lifestyles. Even though it is known for being the silicon valley of India, booming with software jobs and fresh IIT graduates, this garden city has its fair share of nature parks and mountains as well. Director Anjali Menon effectively and seamlessly blends these two worlds into one in her latest Malayalam flick Bangalore Days.

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The story revolves around three cousins, Divya (Nazriya Nazim), Arjun (Dulquer Salmaan), and Kuttan (Nivin Pauly) and their efforts to balance freedom with responsibility as they begin a new phase of their lives in Bengaluru. While vivacious Divya struggles to gain love and appreciation from her aloof husband (Fahadh Faahsil), Arjun couldn’t care less about worldly approval and continues to live life on his own terms. Between these two extremes lies Kuttan, a traditional Mallu boy with conservative attitudes and an undying passion for Kerala. Anjali Menon does a fantastic job with the characterization of her protagonists and reveals just enough at the right times to keep the plot moving at a steady pace. Mammooty’s son Dulquer does a fine job playing a true rebel who eventually finds the answers to his life questions vis-a-vis RJ Sarah (Parvathy), whose words of encouragement on the radio inspire him to make something of his life.
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Within the first twenty minutes, this film has the feel of a Chetan Bhagat novel-turned-movie (perhaps as a result of the first-person narrative from Kuttan’s perspective). However, as the story proceeds, there is a lot of psychological analysis that can be done because the characters have quite a bit of emotional baggage to be dealt with, most of which is related to unresolved past circumstances in their lives. Thus, time is an underlying theme in this film, as foreshadowed by the word “days” in the title. Throughout the plot, the characters attempt to conquer the past and dream of the future while, at the same time, living and enjoying in the present. They experience situations unique to city life in Bangalore that force them to face reality and modify their outlook on life for the better.
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In addition to the infusion of modernity and tradition in values and mindsets, cinematographer Sameer Thahir does an excellent job weaving Kerala images with Bangalore skylines in his captivating nature shots. The combination of traditional Kerala landscapes, with its blue skies, houseboats, and lush greenery, and Bangalorean tall skyscraper offices and crowded highways  reveal the diversity of representation in nature that Menon aims to depict in the film. This contrast in natural landscape and the intersection of old and new perhaps hint at a faint internal identity conflict experienced by Malayalis in Bangalore, especially by Kuttan, who loves the city and the freedom that comes with it but yearns for his native soil in God’s own country.
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The one thing I love about Malayalam films is that they are very realistic and relatable. Certain scenes, like when Divya complains about doing the dishes or when Kuttan’s mother embraces new activities such as laughter therapy/yoga and healthy cooking, are easy to identify with because of the distinct generational characteristics. In other words, we see ourselves in Divya’s laziness and independence, and we imagine our parents in the older generation trying to regain or maintain their youth like Kuttan’s mother. Gopi Sunder’s music creates an additional fun flair in this family drama, and Brinda’s choreography lends spunk and silliness to the characters’ cute personalities. Although the film is a bit on the long side, around 2 hours and 30 minutes without intermission, it definitely sustains audience interest. The witty dialogues, clean humor, and subtle direction in the intimate romantic scenes add charm to this fresh, lively film.
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Final Verdict: Bangalore Days is a complete package, with elements of drama, comedy, and romance that appeal to all ages. It certainly has the stamp of a female filmmaker and is worth watching with family and friends!
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