February 27, 2024

Jude Anthany Joseph, director of India’s international feature Oscar contender “2018,” has started work on his next film.

The untitled investigative thriller is being written by the filmmaker alongside journalist Josy Joseph. The film is based on the true story of Kerala Shipping Corporation’s cargo ship MV Kairali that disappeared in 1979 with a crew of 49 and 20,000 tonnes of iron ore on board while sailing from Margao, India to Rostock, Germany, via Djibouti.

“It’s really fascinating to learn the historical importance of this incident and how the investigation never succeeded.  As a filmmaker it is a challenging subject to execute,” Joseph told Variety. Production is due to commence in the last quarter of 2024.

Meanwhile, “2018” screened at the ongoing International Film Festival of India (IFFI), Goa and the producers threw a lavish party to celebrate the film’s progress. The survival drama based on the climate change-caused floods that devastated the southern Indian state of Kerala in 2018, released in May this year. With a box office take of $25 million, “2018” is the highest grossing Malayalam-language film of all time. The cast includes Tovino Thomas, Kunchacko Boban, Asif Ali, Vineeth Sreenivasan, Narain, Lal and Aparna Balamurali.

“I was a victim of the flood which happened in 2018 in Kerala. My house was flooded, I had to escape with my parents. I lost my car in the flood. My family was divided by the flood, I thought that was the end of my life. But when I came out of it, I read newspapers and watched news videos, there was this success story of Keralites standing together to fight this disaster, there was this great story of humanity saving each other. So, I thought I should tell this story to the world. Also, this subject is very global since people from different parts of the world are suffering from disasters like earthquakes, floods, hurricanes etc.,” Joseph told Variety.

“The idea was pure and sincere. Maybe that is the reason it came out well. I really wanted the people to rethink about their act of destroying nature, knowingly or unknowingly. I had talked to a few guys like Muralee Thummarukudy [operations manager at the crisis management branch of the United Nations Environment Program], to gain knowledge about how climate change caused the flood. But I really didn’t want the script to be in a documentary style, so I put real stories in the script and tried to make it as simple as possible. And it is the people of Kerala who made the film a huge success, I could see the claps and tears in the cinema halls when the film was released,” Joseph said.

The Goa party was in the absence of Joseph who is currently in Los Angeles supervising the film’s Oscar campaign, which is being orchestrated by Joshua Jason of JJ PR. Joseph is upbeat about the film’s chances. “The campaign is going pretty well, with more screenings and interaction with the Academy members. We are getting great responses from all the people who watched the film. I am sure that once they watch the film, they will definitely like it and will tell about our film to at least two persons they know,” Joseph said.

India has been submitting to the category since 1957 and has been nominated three times: for “Mother India” (1957), “Salaam Bombay” (1988); and “Lagaan” (2001). Its 2022 entry “Last Film Show” was shortlisted, but did not score a nomination. India is yet to win the category.

“It’s been a long time that India has been nominated, and my gut feeling says that India will win an Oscar this time for the best foreign language film. Because the world is looking at Indian cinema now, and Indian cinema has been producing great content and the audience here, their admiration for Indian movies give it a great chance this year. Our film has the potential to do that since it is a global topic and the people will relate to the characters,” Joseph said.

“The film is also with great production quality to compete with any other film in this category and we are planning for an organic way of spreading the word about the film through the people who have already watched our film. Many celebrities like [politician and author] Shashi Tharoor, [actors] Rajinikanth, Mohanlal, Mammootty and [former sportsmen and current sports pundits] Ravi Shastri and Sunil Gavaskar have already liked the film and conveyed their good luck to the film. With all these love and wishes and with our efforts we will definitely win this race,” Joseph said.

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