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2018 review: The Kerala story of hope, humanity and resilience, expertly crafted by Jude Anthany Joseph

Jude Anthany Joseph’s gripping disaster movie is high on stirring moments that will take you back to the 2018 Kerala floods


Last Updated: 02.38 PM, May 06, 2023


Story: The movie draws inspiration from several true incidents during the 2018 Kerala floods and showcases interconnected stories of unlikely heroes who emerged during the distressing times and also how people, across the State, rallied through with hope, resilience and support for each other.

Review: A doubt expressed by a lot of people, from the time that director Ohm Shaanti Oshaana director Jude Anthany Joseph announced his movie on the 2018 Kerala floods till it hit theatres, was if the audience in the State are ready to relive one of the most distressing times in the past decade. This doubt seems to have weighed down as a heavy cloud in the minds of the makers too. After one has seen Jude’s creation, which instead of being a documentation of all that transpired, stresses more on the positives. It works as a reminder of the time when people across social strata and States came together to help and even save each other’s lives.

Stills from 2018
Stills from 2018

For cinematic reasons, Jude and the movie’s co-scriptwriter Akhil P Dharmajan have picked only a select number of stories, with a particular village being the focus for most parts. In a movie that is filled with characters and telling a tale that the whole of Kerala have experienced, this approach works, because it heavily relies on the audience’s memory of the 2018 floods.

Among the set of stories, a few stand out – that of Anoop (Tovino Thomas), a young man who ran away from the Army for fear of being a casualty of war and risks his life to save his villagers, that of a family of fisherfolk (Lal, Narain and Asif Ali), who are financially struggling and have their own squabbles, venturing out fully aware of the danger, and that of a Tamil lorry driver (Kalaiyarasan), from the arid, other side of Mullaperiyar, where water is scare. These three threads are the core of the film, but the multiple other strands – be it that of a journalist’s (Aparna Balamurali) family, a tourist taxi driver (Aju Varghese) or of a land revenue department official (Kunchacko Boban) – neatly ties this film, which is filled with emotionally stirring moments that are sure to move the audience, just like they did almost five years ago.


Cinematographer Akhil George and Jude deserve credit for pulling off a disaster movie without a lot of VFX. The former smartly uses a few wide shots to show the magnitude of the disaster, but otherwise keeps the audience hooked due to the suspense of what’s happening onscreen. What unfolds on screen coupled with the performances grip the audience from the start till finish. Every time the script becomes flat, mostly because the viewer is already aware of what has happened, Jude masterfully uses a rousing moment – be it through its characters’ actions or just by fleshing out that connection between people. 

It’s also laudable that despite centring most of the movie’s plot in a village, through several snippets of what happens to people there, Jude also tries to cover most of the elements – from relief camps, the plight of the specially-abled and the animals, the misjudgment of the authorities and the apathy of several people. In a movie that is only two and half hours long, editor Chamman Chakko doesn’t linger on these moments more than what’s required either and this helps in the pacing of the movie.

Tovino Thomas, Asif Ali and Kunchacko Boban in a poster of 2018
Tovino Thomas, Asif Ali and Kunchacko Boban in a poster of 2018

Even though the film has multiple storylines, it’s easy to follow due to the familiar faces playing the major characters. Among the bevy of actors who are part of the film, Tovino Thomas, Asif Ali, Narain, Lal, Kunchacko Boban and Kalaiyarasan get most of the screen time and make the best use of it. Sudheesh, Indrans and Aju Varghese also get memorable parts in the movie. Nobin Paul’s music further elevates the stirring moments, which are plenty in a film that tries to shine light on the selfless heroes and the moments that led them there. 

Tovino Thomas in a still from 2018
Tovino Thomas in a still from 2018

Verdict: Aided by a gripping storyline and stirring moments, Jude Anthany Joseph’s 2018 tells the story of hope and resilience, and serves as a reminder of how the Kerala floods was a great leveller.

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