Keralites are yet to come out of the painful memories of the floods that ravaged most parts of the state last month. Numerous tales of love, compassion and survival in the wake of the calamity could inspire the coming generations. Noted filmmaker Jude Anthany Joseph is all set to give these stories a visual narration on the big screen. Jude, who believes that cinema is the best medium to present such stories to the world, talks to Onmanorama about his newly announced movie ‘2403 ft’.
The idea of this unique film sprang from an interaction with an NGO called ‘Bodini’. It had initially approached the filmmaker to create a video to be shown to the survivors of flood. “They told me that as the floods had emotionally affected kids and even adults they wanted me to make an inspirational video which could help them recover soon. As part of that project, they narrated a few stories as well. My house at Athani too was submerged in the floodwaters. Hundreds of people either lost their loved ones or everything they had. All of us went through a lot of struggles during those days. This movie got conceived as I, being a person who experienced it first hand, could realise the intensity of that struggle,” Jude reveals.
The director says that the floods had left behind lots of inspiring tales to be passed on to the coming generations. He calls the fishermen, mediapersons who strived hard to report news from flooded areas, policemen, army and even common people “super heroes” as they struggled to save Kerala from the deadly deluge. “Though we had evaded a great disaster, the news that is coming up from across the state is those of love, kindness and compassion. Positive news which gives genuine happiness for the people is heard from everywhere,” says the excited filmmaker.
Jude observes that the people of Kerala stood strong and helped each other without showing any social, political, economic or religious differences to survive the tragedy that had struck the state a few days before Onam. He points out the fishermen community were the saviours for many. He also lauds the efforts of the youth, who had until then been blamed for wasting their time online, for coordinating the rescue operations using just their smartphones and laptops.
“The floods had in fact changed the attitude of the people towards each other. When the ones you thought were friends did not turn up for you during the time of distress, strangers reached out to you. Many people, whom I haven’t met in my life, had called me up just to inquire whether I was okay. This movie doesn’t portray the flood in all its severity, instead '2403 ft' projects the incredible resilience displayed by the people of Kerala,” says the director.
He promises that everyone from those who made donations from overseas to the ones who gave instructions from the control rooms would feel that this movie is about them. “Like lots of others I am someone who really got affected by the flood. When this idea crystallised into a movie, I even thought that I became a director just to make this movie. I intend to make this movie on global standards. It would make the people of Kerala proud and would also inspire the coming generations,” Jude says.
The filmmaker says that ‘2403 ft’ demands technical finesse. He admits that filming the flood realistically would be their greatest challenge. The crew has started discussions with a popular VFX company which does graphics for major Hollywood movies.
Cinematographer Jomon T John and editor Mahesh Narayanan have supported him a lot in perceiving the project. “I have clarity about the budget of the movie. We discuss every aspect of this movie with each other, and consider every opinion with equal regard. Mahesh is someone who wowed the audience by recreating an Iraqi hospital at Thammanam. Movies like ‘Take Off’ had definitely been inspiration to make ‘2304 ft’,” remarks Jude.
Cast and characters
“This movie is not something which should be known by the names of the actors who act in it. I can surely say that most of the lead actors in Malayalam would be in the movie. But the characters are the real heroes of this movie,” assures the director.
Screenplay and title
The filmmaker says that there is no written screenplay as this movie represents all the people of Kerala. He added that everyone would have a real tale to tell, which is as eventful as a cinema. “The title itself conveys the incredible strength of the people of Kerala. We have shown that our will power is way above even the 2403 ft water level. We survived that mark together as a people. The filming of the movie will begin in 2019,” confirms Jude.