KOODE - A POEM OF LOVE
Anjali Menon's Koode opens with gloomily shelved scenes of a son heading to the funeral of a family member. What follows is the choking absence filled ambience of a home that has lost someone. The film cuts back and forth between the past and the present in vignettes and we start of with an event of how the birth of a sibling flavoured the family with happiness.
Until a point in the film, say for about 30 minutes.. the film hardly has anything but a heaviness.There is no high. We see grievances.. consolations.. the chilling calmness that takes over after a tragedy. And then, we are cut to a memorial event. We see a kid confessing his love for the late Jenny as she taught him how to sing even when his teachers gave up on him. He begins to sing it in memory of her.. 'Daddy Mummy veettil illa..' confidently, to the entire crowd along with the audience in theatre breaking into a roar of laughter. Perhaps Koode's soul is in exploring this shade of life.. about this cracking into a light moment despite being heartbroken.
The film is all about being together and there for each other. Joshua and Jenny, the siblings and their love forms the core while the veins of it runs all over the film. Prithviraj gives an captivating performance right from the very beginning where we see him cleaning a scum in Gulf. He effortlessly carries Joshua's sadness in his face. It is a delight to see him open up to Jenny. Watch out for the way he reacts when Jenny enquires about his kiss with Sophie. He blushes, pushes it aside with a pinch of shyness blended in it.
Parvathy is again a cast I couldn't think a second option for. She plays Sophie, 'a woman'.. with all her simplicity and complications. There is a moment where she stands alone in a cliff when things become too much for her to handle. We see Joshua trying to console her. She refuses it initially but slowly turns up for it.. longing for a hand to console her. She translates the hundred emotions written in paper through one teary eyed sight of contentment.
However, the cheerbell performance of Koode is that of Nazriya. As much as we are happy to see her coming back to films.. this film happily takes her in it. Moments where she sobs.. sulks.. strings your heart! Her character is treated with an element of supernatural tinge yet she plays it without being a detachment from the life that this film has. She comes off as an alien visiting earth in E.T. Even her birth is written off with a parallel hinting about the birth of Christ. The spirit of her character.. 'I don't want to walk but run. I don't want to stop but fly', lights up the tone of the film whenever and wherever possible. The shot where we see her for one last time is timeless and doesn't leave you easily.
All the characters in the film hold a wound inside them. Joshua, who is displaced from his family during his schoolhood is hinted as a victim of sexual abuse. Jenny suffers with a traumatic disease. Sophie, a divorcee, has gone through a lot of emotional and physical abuse. It is in each other's company they feel the warmth. They feel alive as they be together. The vulnerabilities of their lives finding a company and healing amidst one another heals us as well.
The boy who plays young Joshua is too good. The serene naivity in his eyes for a sister's arrival is so pure. So is Roshan Mathew, a promising talent who can't resist shining no matter how small his screentime is. The film comes to more and more life with every character.. the father, the mother, the lady who gossips, Brownie (a dog which is very much a part of the film), even a tea seller who comes barely for a scene or two.
The film do come up with its own cliches. And the top-most of it all would be the casting of Atul Kulkarni as a football coach. By now, he might be prepared enough to pack a white T-shirt and tracks / a senior police officer uniform whenever he is booked for a South Indian film. And I couldn't buy the Little Swayamp's cinematography much. The creamily candid visuals comes too much on the face in a story that is very much a beauty on its own as it is.
Anjali Menon presents her scene as a poem drenched in nostalgia. Like the title sequence in the film where we see rain filled vessels, rain drops in flowers, kids running with an umbrella, train entering a dark cave.. she sketches her film that takes you back to a time that's deep within your heart now. And from tears to words, a scream to silence.. everything hits you. I wish there are filmmakers like her here.. who can write a character of a dog like a human we know for a while.. who can make such little films with so much of soul in it.
Bottomline: Koode is a little poem tuned out like a nostalgic monsoon song that doesn't have a rollercoaster riding its screenplay, a dramatic story with twists and turns. But it has its heart in an emotion that we all crave for.. 'Being there for each other when needed.'
RATING : 4/5