No one in Kerala will forget the year 2018. When floods threatened to take over the state, the people of Kerala came together, pledging solidarity, and survived the ordeal. Now that part of history has been made into a film titled— ‘2018-Everyone is a Hero’ and will be released on May 5. Film director Jude Anthany Joseph opens up about his film in his latest interview.
About floods and surviving stories
For someone who thought floods will never affect me, I was in for a shock when it reached my home in Athani, near Nedumbassery in 2018. My house, surroundings, and car went underwater. During that time, I got a call from an organisation called Bodhini asking me if I could do a motivational video for those who lost their livelihood and homes during the floods. For research purposes, I started collecting flood-related news stories and videos. That’s when I realised that I was the proverbial frog inside a well. I felt sad that I sat at home and did nothing, when a lot of people reached out to each other during the floods. I decided to make the film when I felt such stories of survival should be known to the world.
I felt there was a connection between the news stories that linked the commoners, cops, media, and the fire force. But then if you bring so many characters together on screen, not everyone will get equal importance. Having said that, the audience should be able to connect easily with these characters. That’s what led to a multi-star film.
From 2018 to 2023
I first told this idea of making a film on the 2018 floods to producer Anto Joseph. We also announced the film in 2018. I also took novelist Akhil P Dharmajan's to write the screenplay. There were many stories and characters.
We shot the film for 13 days in 2019. When we decided to resume the shoot in 2020, the pandemic hit us, forcing us to think we couldn't make this big-budget film. That was painful. But we kept improvising on the screenplay.
I have to give credit to Anto Joseph, one of the producers of the film, who convinced all the actors, including Kunchacko Boban, Tovino Thomas, Asif Ali, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Aparna, Kalaiyarashan, and Narain to join the project. Most of them were keen to be part of a true-life incident that affected a lot of Malayalis. Venu Kunnampilly and C K Padmakumar are the other producers.
About the making of 2018…
The art director Mohandas plays an equal role in the film as the other leading characters. It was decided early, on we won’t be using graphics to show water. We used a set that could be recycled. We planned it in such a way that a miniature set was made to test the water flow before the shoot. We have also used visual effects and big sets. The film was shot at over 120 locations including Thrissur, Ernakulam, Kottayam, Alappuzha, Idukki, Kollam, and Tirunelveli.
The media, especially Malayala Manorama helped in collecting videos, images, and news stories of the floods. In fact, I was able to gather most of the news related to the floods from the Manorama archives.
Would people want to recall this calamity?
The film’s name isn’t just 2018. If that were the case, maybe they will think it is just a reminder of a disaster. But we have added, ‘everyone is a hero’ along with the title. Our aim is to state that every Malayali was a hero during the 2018 flood.
This film is not textured like a documentary. We haven’t simply shown the events as they happened during the floods. And I am sure people wouldn’t want to see it that way too. They would want to connect to the film. '2018-Everyone is a Hero’ is about the good memories and the spirit of humanity that triumphed during that period.