The search for a good story
By Sarita Ravindranath
I catch up with Anjali Menon in the middle of one of her many journeys.
The young director is rushing out of Chennai after a hard night's work. She has just completed the audio recording of Kerala Cafe, a first-of-its-kind film in Malayalam, which sees Anjali teaming up with nine other directors. Each of them has directed a short film woven around a common theme - Yatra (Journey).
Over a dosa and a ride to the airport, in a conversation that leaps from the personal to the professional and back, we constantly return to the topic.
After all, it has also been the theme of her first full-length feature film as a director, and of much of her life.
It has taken her to cities as varied and wonderful as Dubai, London, Kozhikode and Pune, and led her on the biggest journey of them all - the leap of faith she took when she decided to follow her heart and become a filmmaker.
Anjali first caught the attention of film buffs in Kerala after her debut film, Manjadikuru (Lucky Red Seeds), premiered at the International Film Festival of Kerala late last year.
It instantly won rave reviews and awards.
The press in Kerala, thrilled with what they saw as home-grown talent, toasted her success. Anjali recalls that she seemed to be on many covers, many television interviews.
Not many journalists could figure out how to handle a director who happened to be a woman, though.
The reports focussed on the way she looked, and the interviews bordered on the trivial and the bizarre: "Married?" "Do you have children?" "Are you a feminist?" "If you're not a feminist, what are you?" "What issues do you want to highlight through your films?"...
"Issues? I tried telling them that all I want to do is tell good stories. There's nothing else I'd rather be doing than making films," she says, letting on that she loves the chaos and madness behind the making of every film: "Cajoling actors, changing dialogues, choosing a costume, reading a legal document, signing a cheque, calming fraying tempers, finding the right lens, waiting for the right light, running from the rain, cutting out a scene...."
It wasn't always this way, though.
In Picture: The face that launched a thousand inane questions -- Being a woman, Anjali found society was more interested in her personal life than in her profession
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