'2018' review: Indeed, everyone is a hero!

Jude Anthany's film is a tribute to the indomitable spirit of Keralites


It has been said that the memories that you wish to forget are the toughest to leave behind. For every Keralite, the year 2018 is one they wish to forever put away.

However, the death and devastation that the August of 2018 brought along in the form of rain fury and subsequent floods are hard to forget, especially for those who suffered the loss of dear ones. The only possible takeaway from this great agony has perhaps been the realisation that when pushed to a corner by a force that is impossible to tame, the state and its people tend to possess the indomitable spirit and altruism to fight back as one formidable unit.

It is this spirit of courage that 2018: Everyone is a Hero seeks to celebrate.

Disaster thrillers are among the least explored genre of movies in Mollywood (save for Malayankunju in recent times), or Indian cinema for that matter. Possibly for a good reason. It is hard to sit through an hour or two of absolute mayhem and near-hopelessness that crush the human spirit even when you know the darkest hour will pass for those whom you root for, and there is, in all likelihood, light at the end of the tunnel.

Directed by Jude Anthany Joseph and starring an ensemble cast, including Tovino Thomas, Kunchacko Boban, Aparna Balamurali, Asif Ali, Lal, Kalaiyarasan, and Vineeth Sreenivasan among others, 2018 recounts the days of death and misery that the rains and floods brought along, even as it pays tribute to ordinary men and women whose heroics need to be cherished forever. Joseph has been the man behind a few feel-gooders (Om Shanthi Oshana, Sara), but he leaves his comfort zone to come up with a decently crafted disaster thriller that has plenty of hair-raising moments.

The movie begins by recalling the great flood of '99, even as it focuses on the daily lives of a few ordinary men and women in various parts of the state and elsewhere. The reality of rain means something different to each of these—for the fisherfolk, it is the season of scarcity and danger; for some it reminds of the school days and cosy, wet June and the months that follow, and for some others it is another season of moving to a relief camp.

In the first act, you see several such ordinary people, and it even gets tad boring and artificial as there are too many characters to keep track of—there is a deserter who realised that the dangerous Army job isn’t for him and wants to land a job in Dubai, an aspiring model who is not too proud of his fishermen family, a Tamilian who despises Keralites, an NRI youngster whose marriage appears to be crumbling, a reporter who seems to have a sense of what is coming, a sibling rivalry, a blind grocery store owner, a Polish couple and a crafty taxi driver, and many more. But you know what fate has in store for all these men and women who go about, taking each day as it comes.

And when it comes, it is brutal, and almost nobody is prepared for it. The director does not want to project the rain fury as the 'revenge of Gaia' and give a commentary on the same as movies in this genre often tend to do. Neither is his focus on the state machinery that managed to rise to the challenge despite the initial stupefaction. The film is a tribute to the sheer triumph of the will, coupled with the innate altruistic inclination of people to be empathetic in the face of a catastrophe.

Of course as the water begins to rise, you know what is to come because most Keralites have been part of it in one way or another. The timid deserter would eventually turn heroic, the youngsters who were often scolded for being too busy with their phones would use their tech skills to coordinate rescue operations, the fisherfolks would turn superheroes.... While the deaths, desperation, and destruction that the floods bring along are hard to watch, the triumphs of the unlikely heroes comfort you.

Most of the actors come up with fine performances, especially in the third act. Tovino as the timid youngster who manages to win the hearts of those who used to mock him, Sudheesh as the man trapped in a house along with his family, and Kalaiyarasan as the man caught in a moral quandary, stand out.

The director and his team, especially the art department and cinematographer Akhil George, do a great job in recreating the floods and subsequent ruination without resorting to the frequent use of found footage. The background score makes the torment and anguish all the more atmospheric and real.

The movie’s tagline says it all. This isn’t the story of extraordinary people; this is the story of, and tribute to, ordinary people who became extraordinary because of their willingness to risk their lives for total strangers.

Film: 2018

Director: Jude Anthany Joseph

Cast: Tovino Thomas, Kunchacko Boban, Aparna Balamurali, Asif Ali, Lal, Kalaiyarasan, Vineeth Sreenivasan

Rating 3.5/5


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