Malayalam blockbuster and disaster film '2018' led by actor Tovino Thomas chronicling Kerala floods of that year is India's official entry for the Oscars in 2024 and the lead actor can't keep calm.
When Gulf News tracked him down in Amsterdam over the phone, Thomas was understandably chuffed and excited.
"This is a dream come true for us. My only sadness is that I am not in Kerala to celebrate with my entire team. I am in Amsterdam for another awards night for '2018'. But this is a huge moment for me and our team," said Thomas in an exclusive interview with Gulf News.
Last night,Thomas collected the Best Asian actor gong from Septimius Awards committee and he dedicated his win to Kerala.
Directed by Jude Anthany Joseph, the star-studded '2018' was the second highest grossing Malayalam film of 2023, behind 'Romancham'. Getting a nod from India as their selection for the Best Foreign Language Category at the 96th Academy Awards to play out in March next year in Los Angeles puts the film on the global map.
It showcased the spirit of all those Keralites who emerged as real-life heroes when a natural calamity struck them. They also had a big celebratory event in Dubai where they honoured the cast and crew of '2018' for their splendid work. Actors including Thomas, Asif Ali, Kunchacko Boban, and Aparna Balamurali were in Dubai for the momentus night.
Thomas played Anoop, a lovable and endearing hero who goes all out to save his people in his town. The movie that was well receieved by critics and the box-office boasted good performances from seasoned actors including Indrans, Boban, and Balamurali.
"I knew '2018' was a well-made film, but this is a big honour. '2018' was a big blockbuster but to be India's official entry to this year's Oscars is mind-blowing. If we get shortlisted, we will definitely be there in LA," said Thomas in Malayalam.
In an earlier interview with Gulf News, Thomas had described '2018' as one of his career's most toughest projects.
"This was a very challenging film to shoot. It’s not one of those films where I am sitting in a room and conversing, and a tale is drawn around characters. We were all aware that this film ‘2018’ had to be visually stunning... Recreating those heavy rains and submerged homes wasn’t easy, and you also need to remember our budget constraints,” said Thomas.
This self-made actor, who is known for his blockbusters ‘Mayanadhi’ and ‘Minnal Murali’, had a point. Malayalam films are legendary for making stirring and powerful films on limited budgets. Unlike Bollywood and Hollywood films where budget allocation begins on a steep and wider berth, Malayalam filmmakers rely on sturdy storylines and talented actors to do the heavy lifting.
“For instance, a Hollywood disaster film like ‘2012’ was a visual spectacle with a budget [of millions of dollars]. We are making ‘2018’ for the infinitesimal fraction of the cost but having said that the budget is modest when you compare it to other Malayalam films. Yet the truth is that we had to battle many constraints. CGI was a supporting bit, we didn’t rely on it entirely,” said Thomas.
Produced by Venu Kunnappilly, '2018' remains one of the biggest Malayalam hits of 2023.