Hot on the heels of her National Award win on Monday comes the release of another Anjali Menon film, ‘Manjadikuru’, written and directed by the Dubai-raised Malayali.
Menon won the award for Best Dialogue for last year’s ‘Ustad Hotel’ while ‘Manjadikuru’ — a story of past age, lost innocence and hidden guilt — won several awards, including Best Screenplay, Best Direction and Best Cinematography, at the South Asian International Film Festival (SAIFF) in New York in 2009.
Menon did not envision this honour while penning the script when she was a student at the London Film School. But then, she also did not foresee the row she would be involved in later with the National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) of India which resulted in a delay in the release of her film.
“The film was made in 2007 with NFDC as one of the producers. When we later ran into trouble with NFDC, the project had to be shelved,” recounts Menon, who declined to specify the reason for the trouble. The film was locked until 2010.
The English-subtitled film will finally release in the UAE on Thursday.
When the organisers of the International Film Festival in Kerala approached her for a print of the film to screen it, Menon did not have a copy. “I sent them a shorter video version which went on to win two awards at this festival,” she said.
The same version travelled to New York to win more laurels.
“It’s all about childhood, but not a children’s film, yet something every adult can relate to.”
Focused on 10-year-old Vicky, a Gulf-based kid who arrives at his ancestral home in Kerala after his grandfather’s demise, the story captures childhood innocence while also exploring the bond he develops with other children, including Roja, the teenage maid.
Menon said she enjoyed working with her four child actors. One of them, Vyjyanthi, (who plays Roja) worked in a matchstick factory to support her family after her father’s death. Vyjayanthi won the ‘Best Emerging Talent’ award at SAIFF, and thanks to ‘Manjadikuru’, she was offered a role in Tamil actor Sasi Kumar’s upcoming film.
Starring Prithviraj, Urvasi, Rahman, the late Thilakan and supported by child actors Sidharth, Vyjayanthi, Rijosh and Aarti Kumar, ‘Manjadikuru’ has music scored by Ramesh Narayanan. Award-winning cinematographer Pietro Zuercher wielded the camera.
Watch ‘Manjadikuru’ at Galleria (Dubai), Star Cineplex (Sharjah) and National Cinema (Abu Dhabi). Bookings for special screenings are available. Call 04-3970905.