*“I would like to direct Rajinikanth and Vijay in Tamil” – Director Jude Anthany Joseph of Blockbuster Hit ‘2018’ movie fame*
The Malayalam movie industry’s 2018 that were recently a few weeks ago and has been witnessing phenomenal response all over the world. The intriguing fact is that it has become the first-ever 200-Cr club movie in the Malayalam industry, thereby breaking the previous records set by Lucifer and Puli Murugan. The film revolves around the incidents that happened during the 2018 destructive flood in Kerala, and how humanity battled and won over the disaster is the basic premise of this story.
The film is directed by Jude Anthany Joseph, who earlier made a beautiful love story ‘Om Shanthi Hosanna’ featuring Nivin Pauly and Nazriya Nazim as the lead characters followed by Oru Muthaasi Katha and Sara... This film being completely different from his erstwhile flicks has won him incredible praise.
*How did you develop a passion for cinema?”*
I developed a deep desire for filmmaking during my 10th standard in school. I later joined as an assistant director to Vineeth Srinivasan. It gave me a scope to establish my directorial career by having Nivin Pauly and Vineeth Srinivasan in my debut movie itself.
*What’s the reason behind your thought to step away from the usual style of movies, and make something different now?*
Usually, I don’t follow the practice of making movies based on particular or different genres. All that we are focussed is the substantial script, and checking if it will appeal to the interests of audiences from all walks of life. More than all, they must be able to connect with the premise. If a script has the potential to get ticked in all these boxes, then it’s time to get-go with it. 2018 had all these qualities, prompting me to go ahead and make it.
In particular, is there any specific reason that prompted you to make 2018?
Just like everyone had a pathetic disaster during the 2018 Kerala floods, even I lost my vehicle. It was a painful moment for everyone. When the situation was getting better, we decided to make a motivational video stating ‘This isn’t the end, and the Journey will continue’. I didn’t have the opportunity to witness the catastrophic calamities in person, so I started collecting visual footage from various news channels and YouTube. Looking at all of them, it became clear that there is a true story in this moment of calamity where the public and the authorities were involved in this rescue operation regardless of their lives. I decided that this is a story that should be made known to the entire world.
*Malayalam industry always owns a distinctive trait of unique stories and riveting storytelling, but you would have definitely faced the technical challenges. How was the experience of achieving it in 2018?*
We decided and materialized a perfect pre-planning phase, where the miniature was created, and we also created a neat storyboard. Such efforts helped us a lot to achieve a perfect output. That’s the reason it became a great challenge for audiences to differentiate between the original and VFX shots. Except for the TV news channel footage, the entire movie had real shots, and thanks to Production Designer Mohandas, who worked in movies like Lucifer and Maamangam. He handled the entire project with so much proficiency.
*Apart from the technical planning, how did you manage to rope in the finest stars of the Malayalam industry, who are pretty occupied with many projects?*
When I approached the actors, all of them were ready to be a part of it. Since they liked the script, and the story was all about showcasing the unity and strength of Kerala to the whole world, they had more involvement and dedicated towards this movie. Many of them were acting in different films during the shooting of this film. However, they spared time for this film.
Tovino Thomas had the maximum call sheet of 45 days, and his major portions were in the water. Although all the actors in this film exhibited their complete involvement, Tovino Thomas had spent more time to give his best.
*Apart from the practical challenges, was it difficult to convince the producer with the expensive budget for this movie?*
As far as Malayalam cinema is concerned, there is a specific budget limit for every film. The producers will not agree to make the film beyond that. However, it was my desire to make this film and I accordingly had alternative plans like Plan A, Plan B, Plan C and implemented them where necessary, which allowed me to shoot the film within the preplanned budget.
*Did you ever think or imagine that 2018 will create new box office records that it has achieved now?*
To be honest, I never had such aspirations. All I wanted is to make a movie that will be watched by 3.5Cr population of Kerala. I never knew that it would work wonders beyond my expectations. More than the film collecting 200Cr+ in box office, I am glad that the film has reached the audiences, and they have liked it. I desire that Malayalam cinema must consistently deliver such movies, thereby expanding its boundaries.
*What’s the biggest compliment you got for this film?*
Mammootty sir watched the film, and appreciated stating that it gave him an experience of watching a Hollywood movie. He wondered asking about the making process of this film. He asked about every technical details of this film. I got many appreciations, but the one that touched my heart was Malayalam industry’s greatest filmmaker Fazil sir appreciating my work and stated, “You’re the greatest filmmaker of Malayalam film industry”. When I refused to agree, he said that I only said that because you have made a film with so many stars and without commercial elements like songs, fights and made it such a huge success.
*Filmmakers Alphonse Puthren and Vineeth Srinivasan are very much connected with Tamil film industry. Do you have any plans to make a Tamil movie?*
I got many appreciations from Tamil film audiences and press-media friends, but didn’t get any calls from celebrities here. I am waiting if someone from Tamil industry watches this film, and invites me to make such a movie here. I am so vigorous to make a Tamil film and work with biggest names like Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Vijay, Ajith, Suriya and leading artistes. I strongly believe my dream of working with anyone among these big names will come true one day.
*You seemed to take a break from direction, and looked busy with acting for some time?*
I love both acting and directing, so I started traveling because I got many opportunities to act. But acting is just a job for me and Direction is my passion.
*What’s your next project?*
Plans are going on to collaborate with my first film’s hero Nivin Pauly, an the official announcement will be out soon.