“Koode”… Prithviraj is superb in a beautifully directed drama that’s too self-consciously serious

Posted on July 21, 2018

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Spoilers ahead…

Read the full review on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/koode-movie-review-baradwaj-rangan-anjali-menon-prithviraj/

When we first see Joshua (Prithviraj) in Anjali Menon’s Koode (Together), his face is covered by a safety mask. He is in the midst of cleaning up something that looks like chemical waste in some kind of industrial plant in the Middle East. Soon, he gets a call from home, which he has to take in the office of a supervisor who is clearly not happy about this. It sounds like bad news from home, but what’s worse is this: even when the mask comes off, Joshua’s face remains a mask. Inscrutable, unreadable — the camera moves in real close, but finds nothing. Look at how much this small, near-wordless opening section accomplishes. Even without knowing much about Joshua, we know the type of man he is. We see the monotony of his generic blue-collar job, realise that it’s probably a dangerous job, register that he is far away from home, see that the work atmosphere (recall that grumpy supervisor) is less than ideal, and, finally, sense that things at home aren’t great either.

Koode (adapted from Sachin Kundalkar’s 2014 Marathi film, Happy Journey) is Joshua’s story: of a man who suffers from a (somewhat justifiable) martyr’s complex, having hoisted himself on the cross, since his teens, in order to become his family’s Saviour. (The father is a car mechanic. When expenses mount, he sends Joshua away with a “Gulf”-based relative.) The film keeps cutting between the present (shot in cool tones of blue) and the past (bathed in warmer colours), and we see that the highlight of Joshua’s life is the arrival of his sister, Jenny (the grown-up version is played by Nazriya Nazim). She’s born during Christmas — she’s his present. Over a beautiful lullaby — Minnaminni (composed by M Jayachandran) — we sense the love, the tenderness this sensitive brother feels for his sister. And then, one day, without being consulted on the matter, he is sent way, and his heart turns cold. If you just want me to make money for the family, then that’s exactly what I will do. But don’t expect anything else. There are hints of sexual abuse, too.

Continued at the link above.

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