Anjali Menon

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Anjali Menon
അജ്ഞലി മേനോൻ.jpg
Menon in 2016
Alma materLondon Film School
  • Film director
  • screenwriter
Years active2009–present
Spouse(s)Vinod Menon

Anjali Menon is an Indian filmmaker and screenwriter who predominantly works in Malayalam cinema.[2] Anjali has won international, national and state awards for her work and is best known for her feature films Manjadikuru,[3] Kerala Cafe (Happy Journey), Ustad Hotel, Bangalore Days and Koode. She is counted among the change agents in Indian cinema whose work gets attention from the audience and the critics.[4] Anjali is the founder of Little Films [5] a film company based in Mumbai and Kerala that produces fiction and non-fiction works. Anjali is one of the founders of the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC), an organization that focuses on gender equality in the Malayalam film industry.[6][7]

Early life and education[edit]

Alumna of London Film School, Anjali postgraduated with Honors in Film Direction, Film Producing and Film Editing in 2003. Anjali Menon was born in Kozhikode to T M Nair and Sarada Nair. She spent her childhood in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and travelled annually to India.[8] Prior to her film education Anjali graduated from Providence Women's College, Kozhikode and received her Masters in Communication Studies from Pune University. Anjali has trained in Indian classical dance and music.[9][10][11]

Personal life[edit]

She lives in Mumbai with her husband and son.[12]


Menon (second from left) in a Press conference at the 43rd International Film Festival of India, 2012.

Anjali started her career by editing and assisting producers in the making of educational documentaries. She took up event photography and feature writing for journals. Black Nor White[13][14] Black Nor White, was Anjali Menon’s graduation film produced by Asif Kapadia at London Film School starring Rez Kempton and Archie Panjabi, was premiered at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and won the British Film Institute ImagineAsia award.[10][15]


Anjali’s feature film debut Manjadikuru (2008), a coming of age drama set in early 80's. It won the FIPRESCI award[16] for the Best Malayalam film and Hassankutty Award for Best Indian Debut Director at International Film Festival of Kerala. Manjadikuru aka Lucky Red Seeds swept the Grand Jury awards at the South Asian International Film festival with Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Upcoming talent.[17] Anjali also received Kerala State Film Award for Best Screenplay for the movie. SAIFF reviewer Dustin Chang [18] described it as “The film is all about the colors, sounds and wonders of childhood. It feels similar to reading an Arundhati Roy story. The imagery is so striking you could almost smell it.” Manjadikuru’s postproduction was put on hold[19] for 4 years due to producer related issues. Anjali’s company Little Films India took over the project, completed the film and had a release in 2012 to excellent reviews but the film had a limited box office run.[20]

Kerala Cafe[edit]

While Manjadikuru was on hold Anjali worked on her first theatre release - Kerala Cafe (2009), then first-ever Malayalam anthology film produced by Ranjith Balakrishnan, Capitol Theatre for which she directed the humorous segment 'Happy Journey', centered around gender politics.[21] Happy Journey featuring Jagathy Sreekumar & Nithya Menen was premiered at the Abu Dhabi International Film festival[22] and won the NETPAC award at IFFK 2009.[23] ‘Happy Journey’ was recognised as a fresh new voice in the industry.[24]

Ustad Hotel[edit]

Anjali wrote the story, screenplay and dialogues of the critically and commercially acclaimed Ustad Hotel (2012), directed by Anwar Rasheed. Ustad Hotel is a relationship drama of an NRI youngster and his grandfather who runs a seaside restaurant. Lauded for its local flavour and cross generational appeal Ustad Hotel was a huge commercial success and Anjali won the National Film Award for Best Screenplay (Dialogues) at the 60th National Film Awards while the film won the National Awards for Most Popular Film. Anjali won the Best Writer awards at Asianet Film Awards and Vanitha Film Awards.

Bangalore Days[edit]

In 2014 Anjali wrote and directed Bangalore Days (2014), revolving around the life of three Malayali cousins who move to Bangalore, which became a huge commercial success and which identified her as a commercially successful filmmaker who made sensible cinema.[25] The ensemble cast consisted of Dulquer Salman, Nivin Pauly, Nazriya Nazim, Fahadh Fazil, Parvathy Thiruvoth, Nithya Menen, Isha Talwar, Kalpana and it was the first film produced by Anwar Rasheed Entertainment in association with Weekend Blockbusters. As per the industry, Bangalore Days was instantly declared “super bumper mega hit” when it released [26] and went on to become the entry point film for non-Malayalees into Malayalam cinema.[27] Anjali won the Kerala State Award for Best Writer & Best Director at the Filmfare Awards & the Asianet Film Awards


Anjali wrote and directed and co-produced the commercially and critically acclaimed Koode (2018), which showcased issues of migrant workers and child sexual harassment as it dealt with themes of loss and solace. Starring Prithviraj, Parvathy, Nazriya Nazim & Ranjith Balakrishnan, it was lauded for its performances and poetic storytelling.[28] Koode was the official adaptation of Marathi film ‘Happy Journey’ by Sachin Kundalkar but with many new layers that Anjali brought in[29]

Other work[edit]

Anjali is a motivational speaker who addresses subjects related to filmmaking, community, gender empowerment, entrepreneurship and parenting at venues like TED,[30] TISS,[31] TIE Global,[32] CII, KSUM, and IGCE. Anjali has been a jury member for IFFK, MAMI, IFP and Filmfare awards. Anjali works towards cultural conservation through documenting cultural performers [33] and gathering lore.[34] Anjali has published short stories,[35] screenplays and articles and she blogs about her worldviews [1].

Themes & influences[edit]

Anjali's movies have depicted themes of family, migrant experience, gender and cross-cultural interactions. She has mentioned Mira Nair, Padmarajan, Kieslowski, Robert Altman, Gulzar and Marion Hansel as inspiration for her work.[36][37][38][39]

She portrays stories of non-resident Indians in her work and referred to her reverse migrant identity and hybrid sensibility in her work as an advantage.[40] Anjali is vocal about the need for gender equality in the workplace [41] and sensitivity in on-screen portrayals.[42]


Year Title Director Screenwriter Notes
2000 Black Nor White Yes Yes Short film
2009 Kerala Cafe Yes Yes Happy Journey segment[43]
2012 Manjadikuru Yes Yes [44]
Ustad Hotel No Yes [45]
2014 Bangalore Days Yes Yes [46]
2018 Koode Yes Yes [47]
2021 Rasa Yes Yes NDFC Film Bazaar


Award Year Film
Hassankutty Award for Best Debut Director[48][49] 2008 Manjadikuru
FIPRESCI Prize for Best Malayalam Film[50][51]
60th National Film Awards for Best Dialogues[52] 2012 Ustad Hotel
Kerala State Film Award for Best Screenplay[53]
Asianet Film Awards - Best Screenplay[54] 2013
Kerala State Film Award for Best Screenplay (Original) 2014 Bangalore Days
Filmfare Awards South - Best Director[55] 2015
Asianet Film Awards - Best Director and Best Popular Film[56]
Vanitha Film Awards - Best Director and Best Popular Film[57]
SIIMA Film Awards - Best Director and Best Film[58]


  1. ^ "Anjali Menon's 'Bangalore Days' creates history - Entertainment News , Firstpost". Firstpost. 9 June 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2021.
  2. ^ Aravind, Indulekha (14 July 2018). "What makes 'Bangalore Days' director Anjali Menon a rarity in Indian cinema". The Economic Times. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  3. ^ Janardhanan, Arun (23 June 2012). "'Manjadikuru' girl lives a sad life off the screen too". The Times of India. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  4. ^ Harikrishnan, Charmy (21 October 2018). "How women film-makers like Meghna Gulzar, Rima Das, Anjali Menon & Nandita Das are changing the face of Indian cinema". The Economic Times. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Praveen, S. r (25 June 2018). "Women in Cinema Collective condemns AMMA's decision to reinstate actor Dileep". The Hindu.
  7. ^ "Parvathy Menon, Manju Warrier, Bhavana and others form Women in Cinema Collective". The Indian Express. The Indian Express. 4 June 2017. Retrieved 27 December 2017.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Mathews, Anna (26 October 2020). "Anjali Menon's bharatanatyam photos are a real Vijayadashami treat". Times of India. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  10. ^ a b "About AM". Anjali Menon. 26 November 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  11. ^ "Cut to Anjali". The Hindu. 12 September 2009. Archived from the original on 23 September 2009. Retrieved 17 December 2009.
  12. ^ Dutta, Nandita. "How Anjali Menon went from successful writer to director of one of Malayalam cinema's biggest hits". Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  13. ^ "British Council Film: Black Nor White". Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  14. ^ "Black Nor White (2002)". Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  15. ^ "Black Nor White website". Archived from the original on 26 June 2015. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  16. ^ Fujiwara, Chris. ""Lucky Red Seeds": The Double Look By Chris Fujiwara". fipresci The international federation of film critics. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  17. ^ "Malayalam film wins big at New York festival". 12 November 2009. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  18. ^ Chang, Dustin (30 October 2009). "SAIFF 2009: Manjadikuru/Lucky Little Seeds". Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  19. ^ Kamath, Sudhish (4 July 2016). "A statement with simplicity". The Economic Times. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  20. ^ "Lucky Red Seeds : A film by Anjali Menon".
  21. ^ "Preparing to Improvise Anjali Menon in conversation with Smriti Kiran". Mumbai Film Festival. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  22. ^ "Kerala Cafe to premiere at Abu Dhabi International Film Fest". Deccan Herald. 9 October 2009. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  23. ^ "Kerala Cafe". Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  24. ^ Ravindranath, Sarita. "Anjali Menon's Happy Journey". Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  25. ^ "Bangalore Days: A film needn't be stupid to be a blockbuster". Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  26. ^ Pillai, Sreedhar (9 June 2014). "Anjali Menon's 'Bangalore Days' creates history". The First Post. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  27. ^ Mehrotra, Suchin (8 June 2019). "Revisiting Bangalore Days With Anjali Menon". The Economic Times. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  28. ^ Anirudh (14 July 2018). "Good Touch vs Bad Touch – Anjali Menon's Charm!". BehindWoods. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  29. ^ Rajendran, Soumya (15 July 2020). "Revisiting 'Koode', the many layers in Anjali Menon's moving film". The News Minute. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  30. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "Are We Perpetuating Bias In Our Society | Anjali Menon | TEDxFCRIT". YouTube.
  31. ^ "TISS ODCL on Facebook". Facebook. Archived from the original on 27 April 2022.[user-generated source]
  32. ^ "TGS2020 - Meet the Top Speakers & Entrepreneurs of the World". Archived from the original on 28 November 2020.
  33. ^ "Sopanam Institute to organize Kavalam Mohtsavam from Sunday". Times of India. 20 June 2017. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  34. ^
  35. ^ "A Monsoon Feast".
  36. ^ Joshi, Namrata (13 May 2020). "'Every time I watch it, I become a member of the family': Filmmaker Anjali Menon on 'Monsoon Wedding'". The Hindu. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  37. ^ "Anjali Menon's Happy Journey". Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  38. ^ Kapoor, Aekta (7 September 2018). "Anjali Menon on Sensitivity in Cinema and Why a Women's Collective Is the Need of the Hour". CNBC TV 18. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  39. ^ "Anjali Menon on Sensitivity in Cinema and Why a Women's Collective Is the Need of the Hour". CNBC TV 18. 25 December 2020. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  40. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "I Have Never Strived To Be 101% "Malayali" | Anjali Menon". YouTube.
  41. ^ Dileep, Shruthi (25 December 2020). "Our Culture Has Normalized Perpetrators Abusing Their Power': In Conversation With Anjali Menon". CNBC TV 18. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  42. ^ Paul, Cithara (19 October 2018). "Scene change". The Week. Retrieved 11 August 2021.
  43. ^ "Review: Kerala Cafe". Sify.
  44. ^ "Seeds of a success story". The Hindu. 26 December 2008.
  45. ^ Nagarajan, Saraswathy (21 June 2012). "Beachside hotel". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 27 July 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2016.
  46. ^ "Anjali Menon's movie is Bangalore Days". The Times of India. 24 January 2014.
  47. ^ "Anjali Menon's movie is Koode". The Times of India.
  48. ^ ":: IFFK 2008". Archived from the original on 17 February 2015. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  49. ^ "Parque Via wins best film award". The Hindu. 20 December 2008. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  50. ^ "Awards - Festival Awards 2008". Fipresci. Archived from the original on 8 October 2014. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  51. ^ "Festival Reports - Kerala 2008 - "Lucky Red Seeds"". Fipresci. Archived from the original on 16 October 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
  52. ^ ":: National Film Award 2012" (PDF). India Government. Retrieved 1 May 2015.
  53. ^ "Kerala State Awards 2014: The complete list". OnManorama. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  54. ^ "Folk artist Raghu Dixit to compose songs for Anjali Menon's next flick". 17 January 2018. Retrieved 31 July 2019.
  55. ^ "Filmfare Awards South". Archived from the original on 29 January 2016.
  56. ^ "Asianet Film Awards". International Business Times. 12 January 2015.
  57. ^ "Vanitha Film Awards 2015".
  58. ^ "SIIMA awards 2015".

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