There is not one Malayali who does not have a story related to the 2018 floods that affected many parts of Kerala. It was a horrible time for the state, which was gearing up for Onam. Jude Anthany Joseph’s survival film takes excerpts from people involved in carrying out the relief work when the heavy monsoon struck the state most horrendously. They were caught off guard, and thousands of people came forward to help those who were severely affected. How did all of them get through one of the toughest days and nights of their lives?
Anoop And His Dilemma
“2018” begins with a montage of old pictures being showcased about the last time a disastrous flood hit the state of Kerala. It happened during British rule. Ever since, there has never been a flood that has so severely affected the people of Kerala. Going straight back to 2018, the movie begins with Anoop approaching local police for a visa and passport verification. It is taking more time than usual because Anoop left the Indian army by producing a fake medical certificate, and ever since then, the man has been the talk of the town. Anoop is not affected by what people say because he knows what he did and why he did it. The police are unable to help him with this, and he is worried that the army will send someone to check up on him. Anoop now earns a living carrying out several odd jobs in the town of Aruvikkulam. He is an affable and helpful chap who is friendly with plenty of people in town, and they stand by his decision to leave the army, though many make fun of him. He happens to help a blind neighbor, a small store owner and is friendly with many of the school-going kids.
Noora, The Journalist
Noora is a television journalist for a local news channel in Kerala who is covering a story about a border town in Tamil Nadu that is in severe drought because it lies on the other side of the Mullaperiyar Dam that does not release any water, and the town is waiting for some rainfall. She is serious about covering this story of the Mullaperiyar Dam. The shutters of the dams were opened after many years due to heavy rainfall, and it is a sight to behold. Not many, including her, are aware of the disaster that is going to follow this event. There is nothing anyone could have predicted. Noora, being a journalist, is hoping things will not get out of hand.
Sethupathy, who belongs to this border town of Tamil Nadu and Kerala near the Mullaperiyar dam, works as a truck driver. He has been assigned to drop off a cargo to Kerala, which includes some explosives along with packages marked eatables. The man comes from a place where there is a severe shortage of water, and the people in his town, including his mother and daughter, are struggling to survive. They must walk miles to find water for their livelihood. It is a disconcerting matter because just across from the town in Kerala, it is about to face one of the biggest rainfalls, and in Tamil Nadu, people are barely surviving because of a shortage of water.
Mathachan And His Family
Two fishermen who went into the sea have not come back. Their wives are worried sick and they think their husbands have gotten lost in the incoming storm. But they do not want to think the worst, and they can only hope someone will help them locate the men. Mathachan and his son Winston, who themselves are local fishermen, take up the mantle to rescue the fisherman as they head to the sea to rescue the men. Mathachan and Winston do this because their fellow men who are lost happen to be their friends, and they cannot help but make an attempt to rescue them. Mathachan and Winston finally locate the fishermen, who are exhausted from being rattled by the storm and the choppy waters, and rescue them in the nick of time before a large barge can submerge them into the water. Mathachan and Winston are hailed as heroes by the community because they never stop helping people in need. It is in their nature to go out of their way to aid the needy. Mathachan’s younger son, Nixon, stayed away from his father and brother’s jobs because he was keen on becoming a model and possibly an actor in the films. He knows the job but purposefully stays away because he wants to make his own identity and earn more money. There is constant friction between the father and his youngest son, and there seems to be no resolution to it.
Nixon happens to be in love with a woman who comes from a family of means in Aruvikkulam. He requests that his father approach her family to talk about his intention of getting married to her. Unfortunately for Nixon and his family, the girl’s father is not keen on getting his daughter married into a fisherman’s family because he does not want his daughter to live in relief camps, which is a common fate for people who live in the fisherman’s village along the coast of Kerala. Their marriage plans are stalled.
Shaji’s New Home
Shaji Punnose is a state government employee who works for the district office. A hardworking employee who has recently built a home for himself after years of hard work in Aruvikkulam, he cannot wait to begin his life with his wife and daughter. Shaji Punnose’s office will soon be converted into an office that coordinates disaster relief and rescue operations in the wake of information that the office has received that very high rainfall is hitting Aruvikkulam. Shaji is in despair because his wife happens to live with his daughter, and because of the onset of the rains, it becomes difficult for him to coordinate to get her out of there as soon as possible. Shaji, being an officer with the government, is carrying out relief work but is unable to help his wife out, not because he doesn’t want to but because he is unable to reach out to her in such times of calamity.
Koshy, The Tourist Taxi Driver
Koshy, who is from the Kuttanadan area of southern Kerala, is a taxi driver hired to pick up a Polish couple visiting Kerala. With ongoing non-stop rains, Koshy is trying hard to find a decent place for the couple to stay. Even his hometown has been ravaged by torrential rains, and he seems helpless on how to find a place for them to stay. In the wake of such unpredictable weather, they head to Aruvikkulam and are welcomed by Anoop’s family to stay over for the night. Koshy does come across as someone who is trying to swindle the Polish couple, but that is not the case at all. Koshy genuinely wants to help the tourists have a good time because the money they would give him would help him and his family survive. Koshy tried to look for every option out there to accommodate the tourists, but the rain played spoilsport.
Ramesh’s Family Woes
Ramesh works in the Middle East, and he has been separated from his wife Anu for a while and the couple have not spoken to each other in a long time. Ramesh is trying his level best to make his marriage work, but Anu is not keen on continuing to be part of it. Ramesh is supposed to come down to Kerala for the legal separation process, but he is unable to take leave for the same. His mother is also not aware of the situation between the two. During her conversation with her daughter-in-law, Ramesh’s mother injured herself due to heavy rainfall. Anu goes to Ramesh’s home to take care of her, and since the incident, Ramesh is on his way back home, and this way, he is hoping to make things right with Anu. He is not sure if it will work out, but there is still some hope left in him.
Ending Explained – Who Survives The Harrowing Ordeal Of The Rousing Flood?
As the rains all over the state keep increasing, especially in Aruvikkulam, there is genuine tension and fear among people. Shaji, who is working with the disaster and rescue operation team, is on his toes with the weather going from bad to worse. With the dams being opened as well, there is no way to avoid a massive flood. The Kerala government, the central government, and the officials on the ground are trying their level best to move people to relief camps so that they are not affected by it, but keeping in mind the population and lack of facilities, all of this and more hampers the relief operations. Anoop’s fiancée, Manju, a teacher at school, is spearheading the relief work, moving people to relief camps at school and nearby colleges to avoid being hit by the incoming flood. Anoop joins her in the relief work, and he starts helping families one by one on his makeshift boat. Anoop makes sure to help every person he can in his village. His military experience helps him be alert all the time. He is the leader here in this village and assists in getting people out as soon as possible. Anoop is carrying out his relief work not out of any obligation but because he knows that as a part of society, he has to help them out because if a person like him does not step out to help, there won’t be anyone else who would be willing to put their fear aside and help the needy.
On the other side of the village, as the water levels are rising, it has gotten to the point that the ground floors of all the homes are now flooded. Villagers who have two-story homes find it easy to move to the roof of their homes to save themselves, but all the low-lying homes have been affected. Anoop and his friend try to reach out to as many people as they can and rescue them. They are now in dire need of help, which won’t come until the next morning. The village is sure things would rapidly turn bad to worse within hours, and they cannot wait till sunrise for the rescue team. In this situation, the fisherman community, led by Mathachan volunteers, helped the people out using their fish trawlers. Since they are used to fishing in high levels of water, it would be easy for them to maneuver through the flooded town and rescue as many people as they can. They are indeed considered heroes because they could not have done this, and their rescue was not government-aided. The fishermen volunteered themselves to make sure people survived this horrible ordeal. Mathachan is joined by his son Winston, and as a pleasant surprise, Nixon joins the team to help all of them get the trawlers to Aruvikkulam. Nixon’s girlfriend’s father is seen apologizing to Mathachan in the wake of his people rescuing him from his flooded home. This restores fishermen as superheroes who showed up when no one expected them.
Ramesh, who is on his way to his hometown from the Middle East, flies down to Tamil Nadu because of heavy rainfall in Kerala, and on his way to Kochi, the train derails because of the heavy rains. Still stuck in Tamil Nadu, Ramesh is reluctantly helped by Sethupathy, who is also on the way to Kerala to deliver his goods. As they embark their journey, Sethupathy is moved by the tragic news of the ghastly floods. The man has a sudden change of heart because he thinks the work he has been assigned does not have any goodwill attached to it. He drops Ramesh, who offers him a gift for Sethupathy’s daughter and departs. Sethupathy realizes the people he has met so far are good, and there is a way to give back to them by being a helping hand. Sethupathy knows if he gets rid of the bombs and gives away the food and other essentials on the truck to disaster relief, he will become a better person, not for anybody but for himself. He feels the people are in dire need of essentials, and the bomb at this hour will never serve any purpose.
Mathachan and his sons are on a rescue spree, and they are going from home to home. As the school relief camp is flooding, Mathachan and his sons volunteer to shift people to other relief camps on their boats. Winston and Nixon get going, but Mathachan, unfortunately, passes away as the wall of the school collapses on him due to heavy rains. Mathachan was the one who got his fellow fishermen to help these people out, rescue as many people as they could, and make sure no one died. Mathachan sadly became a martyr who died doing what he wanted to do. Helping people out and making sure that people remain safe and sound. An unsung hero who just came like a superhero and went too soon.
Shaji’s pregnant neighbor is having trouble because of her condition, and there is an airlift that has been requested to take her to the nearby hospital. Shaji is on the phone relentlessly to make sure she is given medical support as soon as possible. As the helicopter arrives to rescue her, there is not enough space to land it and help her out. Anoop comes forward to help the pregnant lady and her kid with all the military knowledge that he has when it comes to disaster relief. He gives his 200% to make sure this pregnant woman and her daughter are rescued, and with that mission over, Anoop is made the next hero of the town for going out of his way to help his townspeople. Anoop, who was being ridiculed for leaving the army, is now being hailed as an unsung hero who came forward in a time of adversity. Anoop notices that a family close to him has not been rescued yet. He makes one last trip to help them out. As he reaches their home using the makeshift boat, he is shocked to notice the entry of the home is blocked by the trunk of a large tree, and by the looks of it, the family is stuck and probably dead as well. The family inside is barely alive with their injured son, keeping themselves afloat in the fully flooded home. Their son suddenly makes a sound, which alerts Anoop, and he makes an attempt to rescue the family. Anoop barely manages to bring them up onto their roof and take them back to the relief camp as quickly as possible. As they are headed back to the relief camp, Anoop makes one final stop to rescue his blind neighbor, who fell into the water. In a bid to save the man from drowning, Anoop sadly never comes up.
2018 ends with things going back to normalcy slowly and steadily. Many homes were lost, many lives were lost, and people lost their source of livelihood. Anoop, who gave everything he had to save the people, ultimately had to lose himself in the flood. As he was trying to help the blind neighbor, the man was fidgety because one of his senses did not exist, and with full strength, he unexpectedly pushed Anoop down, whose’ leg got stuck between two stones. He tries to save himself, but his body goes into cardiac arrest and he drowns. The last scene of 2018 has children and the blind neighbor acknowledging Anoop’s passing as he is now commemorated by a memorial in the town in his name for the bravery he showed. There is a bittersweet ending to this ordeal because two people who came forward to help the needy had to pay for their lives and will not live to know how much the villagers owe them for what they did.
Jude Anthany Joseph has probably become one of the sound directors with this film because, even though the film is high on emotions, the man does not lose grip on the screenplay, direction, cinematography, and VFX. The movie could have become plastic if the VFX were not up to par. The director of the film is the winner here because without Jude Anthany Joseph not knowing what to do, the film would have been aimless and would not have made the impact. The direction of the film takes the narrative forward and makes the narrative a driving force till the end. The film does seem a tad bit dramatic at the start, but the emotions are rightly portrayed, which keeps the drama part at bay. The second half is where the film picks up, and it seems like there is no end to the ordeal that the people are facing. It is sharply executed without any over-the-top theatrics. Just one human helping another human. This rescue film uses all the formulas that are required to make it a little bit extra, but this extra and the formula work in favor of the film only because of the emotions put across by the actors. Lal, Naren, Asif Ali, Kunchacko Boban, Sudheesh, and Tanvi Ram give one of the best performances in the film. But one performance that refuses to leave you once the film is done, Tovino’s performance as Anoop. The man goes from being honest about his reality to facing reality like a champ. He gave people everything he could. Tovino’s performance and arc are tragic and will be remembered. The movie is a triumph for all the technical departments, and I would highly recommend you watch this movie in a theater. You can feel all the emotions rising in your body as you watch it. 2018 is a must-watch film about unity and humanity at a time when divisive films are being propagated and hailed.
2018 is a Malayalam-language film running at theaters near you with subtitles.