Revisiting The Timeless Appeal Of Bangalore Days

The film is a gentle push for us to embrace our present, rejoice in our familial bonds and to dream without limits
Revisiting The Timeless Appeal Of Bangalore Days

Picture this: Your non-Malayali friend comes asking for a good Malayalam movie recommendation and without skipping a beat, you name a film that has left many audiences enchanted ever since its inception- Bangalore Days (2014). However, brace yourself, and dig for some other choices because chances are that they have already stumbled upon this timeless gem, discovered through its loyal and cultish, word-of-mouth fan-base. Being a Malayali myself, I have watched this movie several times over, especially during the many Onams and Vishus when it used to be a television staple of many Malayalam channels. Even with the OTT platforms colonizing our entertainment culture, there is a magnetic desire in me to revisit this film every time a nuclear family bubble starts feeling too lonely. So what is it about Bangalore Days that is so memorable? Why does it bring this warm comfort, like a familiar hug on a cold winter night? 

Sure, on the surface, Anjali Menon’s charming slice-of-life is simply a clash of many themes- tradition versus modernity, older versus younger generation and carefree, wild adventures pitted against structured, cautious living. But despite the multiple plotlines, it boils down to a simple tale of  three cousins and their innocent dreams of experiencing the time of their life in a city that is always fun and young. With Nazriya Nazim (Divya) as an innocent goody two shoes, Nivin Pauly (Krishnan aka Kuttan) as the judgemental old-school, comic relief and Dulquer Salmaan (Arjun) as the reckless, free-spirited charmer, you have got a perfect recipe for entertainment. Cousins by blood, they become friends by choice and evoke nostalgia in us for days when time spent with our cousins was a carefree affair. Despite their own individual baggage, they are unrestrainedly united in moments of fun and joy as they explore the vibrant possibilities that their Bangalore offers. 

Revisiting The Timeless Appeal Of Bangalore Days
The Magic Of Bangalore Days, Directed By Anjali Menon, On Hotstar

Menon’s characters are unforgettable as they are all distinct in characterization, each with their own dreams and aspirations to fulfill in Bangalore. Divya’s infectious personality reminds us to embrace our inner child, no matter how much life tries to knock us down. She is bubbly and sweet but also stands her ground when faced with a cold husband. Das’s (Fahadh Faasil) cold demeanor initially evokes a passive dislike from the audience but soon we admire him for his ability to learn from mistakes and to let love heal his wounds. Kuttan’s nostalgic yearning for his traditional roots as he adjusts to the bustling cityscape makes us realize that regardless of where we go, only our true home provides solace. Some of us can easily relate to his innocent obsession of staying familiar with the traditional while also wanting to have his fair share of modern experiences. Arjun may come from a broken family, but he is the go-to-person for his cousins whenever they need a dose of lighthearted banter. His spontaneous antics lead him on a journey of self-discovery like no other. Rj Sarah (Parvathy Thiruvothu) is the epitome of resilience and ambition and is a reminder that physical disabilities are not always handicaps as she has the power to wake up the entire city with just her “Goodmorning Bangalore…” Together, their stories are reflective of the hopes and challenges that young dreamers face when they migrate to their dream cities. They also teach us that the process of coming-of-age knows no timeline, sometimes even occurring after marriage. It is the metropolis of Bangalore that drives these characters to maturity. Anjali Menon’s direction is didactic without resorting to preachiness, as she scoops extraordinary tales from ordinary interactions. 

Humor is integral and natural in the film’s narrative and is found in everyday situations and relatable moments that resonate with the audience. Despite such an ensemble star cast, Kalpana who plays Kuttan’s mother, is an unforgettable character. She is initially presented as an overdramatic and nagging wife and mother. But she undergoes a major volte-face when she finds a promising opportunity in her husband’s abandonment. In Bangalore, she transforms into a wannabe urban woman who encourages her extra-cultured son to buy pizza when she hasn’t cooked anything at home. Through her, Menon builds a good balance between upholding tradition and calling it out whenever it's overdone. Kuttan’s father too elicits laughter when he sends a letter to his son explaining that his spiritual pilgrimage is actually a vacation in Goa. 

Revisiting The Timeless Appeal Of Bangalore Days
Revisiting Bangalore Days With Anjali Menon

There is no promise of extravagant sets, complex plotlines or weighty dialogues in Bangalore Days. But the movie’s soundtrack and lyrics are characters themselves that breathe life into the scenes and intensify every emotion conveyed. Take the catchy and upbeat 'Mangalyam' penned by Santhosh Varma, a traditional wedding song with a modern twist. The lyrics are thought provokingly humorous and yet all you can concentrate on is the unadulterated joy and camaraderie of the actors dancing, and the raw sense of celebration that the music evokes. 'Mangalyam' has established such a legacy that no South Indian wedding feels complete without its infectious addition. 'Ente Kannil Ninakkai'’s lyrics drip with longing and unrequited love and the determination to continue loving and living regardless of the outcome. And 'Ethu Kari Raavilum'’s haunting music has the power to easily bring emotional solace to even the darkest of night.

It has been 9 years since the movie’s release, yet every time I revisit it, I find myself oscillating between unrestrained joy, simplistic sadness and the peacefulness of a family reunion. It sets impossibly high standards for cousins, making me wonder if most of us will ever be able to experience such deep familial bonds that blurs the border between family and friendship. The movie has etched itself into our hearts, transcending boundaries of both culture and language. It is a gentle push for us to embrace our present, rejoice in our familial bonds and to dream without limits. Bangalore Days is not just a movie, it is a timeless experience; a phenomenon that will make you laugh and cry heartily and believe in the forever of cousinship. 

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