Koode movie review: Prithviraj is convincing as a person who has experienced unspeakable abuse. I liked the way Anjali has handled Parvathy's character. Even as she doesn't get a lot of speaking lines, Sophie's reactions tell a lot without saying anything.

Koode movie cast: Prithviraj, Parvathy, Nazriya Nazim
Koode movie director: Anjali Menon
Koode movie rating: 4 stars

A little more than four years after Bangalore Days, writer-director Anjali Menon has returned to the box office with Koode (Together). The slice-of-life movie is an adaptation of Sachin Kundalkar’s Marathi film Happy Journey. Soon after I finished watching Koode, I watched the trailer of the original Marathi film, just to get a sense of how differently Anjali has reimagined this tale of fantasy.

While remaining loyal to the core plot, she has completely changed the social and emotional context of each character. Anjali’s adaptation of Happy Journey is dark and gritty with a just streak of sunshine.

Set in the misty background of Ooty, the film follows the life of Joshua (Prithviraj Sukumaran) a tormented soul, who has spent his life picking up sludge in oil refineries in Gulf.

Joshua is forced to return to Ooty following a tragedy, which was hagging like a sword of Damocles over his family for 20 years. The man, who lost his teenage years on the land far away from the safety and comfort of home, has shut everyone out. He is even indifferent to the death of a family member.

Sophie (Parvathy) is an equally traumatized person and a divorcee. She has to consistently fend off unwanted overtures and prying eyes of other men. She also has to deal with her family’s hostility stemming from the delusional belief in patriarchy. And we have Jenny (Nazriya Nazim), who brings sunshine into the dark lives of Joshua and Sophie. But she also comes with her share of tragedy to recount.

Koode is made more relevant and, in fact, timely by its underlying subtext, which is child abuse and patriarchy. The film strongly suggests that Joshua is a victim of sexual abuse and the worst is their parents are not even aware of it.

On the other hand, Sophie suffers at the hands of her own family because of her gender. She is not allowed to play football at school and she is not supported when she becomes a victim of domestic violence. She is even groped in her own home and men in her family look the other way.

Anjali brings these three characters together in a journey where they overcome the personal trauma and social stigma and learn to move on from their past. The beautiful images powered by cinematographer Littil Swayamp and composer Raghu Dixit’s soulful background score keeps us emotionally invested in each character.

Atul Kulkarni’s character seemed like a misfit among the well-developed characters. It feels Anjali cast him in the film as a nod to Happy Journey, in which Atul had played the lead role.

Prithviraj is convincing as a person who has experienced unspeakable abuse. I liked the way Anjali has handled Parvathy’s character. Even as she doesn’t get a lot of speaking lines, Sophie’s reactions tell a lot without saying anything.

Jenny is the one who gets the most of the dialogues. She plays the guarding angel that set Sophie and Joshua on the right path. Nazriya brings her own element to Jenny, which is otherwise a stock character in such films. Jenny is full of life and a chatterbox that we have grown used to in movies that teach us how to live our lives. Nazriya has delivered a heartening performance, which is the right mix of cute and charm. Especially in a scene where she has her first fight with her brother, Joshua.

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