The Malayalam film industry was elated when 2018: Everyone is a Hero was selected as India’s official entry for the Oscars 2024. The movie, based on the deadly 2018 Kerala floods, was critically acclaimed and also entered the ₹200-crore club.
The 16-member committee appointed by the Film Federation chose the Malayalam movie out of 22 films shortlisted for the Academy Awards 2024.
Announcing the decision, Committee Chairman Girish Kasaravalli said, “Of the 22 films shortlisted for the Oscars 2024, 2018: Everyone is a Hero was the collective decision of the jury.”
Responding to the news, director Jude Anthany Joseph said the movie was a tribute to the people of Kerala.
Lead actors Tovino Thomas, Kunchacko Boban, and Asif Ali, too, shared their happiness via social media.
Long road ahead
However, though it has been selected as India’s official entry for Oscars 2024, 2018: Everyone is a Hero has a long road ahead.
Venu Kunnappily, one of the producers of 2018, believes that there’s a huge challenge in front of them as the jury members are from other countries like the USA and the UK. “It’s a difficult task to make the jury aware of the movie and the premise.”
Interestingly, the Malayalam film And The Oscar Goes To (2019) is about a young filmmaker whose flick gets selected for the Academy Awards for Best Foreign Film. It deals with the hiccups faced by Issak Ebrahem (Tovino Thomas) in Los Angeles to lobby for a nomination.
Helmed by Salim Ahamed, And The Oscar Goes To is the real-life story of the director himself. He faced a similar situation after his movie Adaminte Makan Abu (2011) was selected for the Academy Awards.
These were the reasons why the other three Malayalam films selected by India for the Oscars earlier were not nominated. Here’s a quick look at the three previous official entries (Malayalam movies) from India:
Guru (1997), directed by Rajiv Anchal, was the first Malayalam movie to enter the Oscars race in 1997. But it wasn’t nominated.
A fantasy drama, it is based on the life of Raghuram (Mohanlal), a secularist-turned-extremist.
In the second half, he will be in a blind man’s valley where narrow-minded people live with their utopian ideas. Raghuram tries to correct them.
Guru was definitely ahead of its time. It told us that all books and theories are nothing but perceptions of people.
The background score and songs composed by Ilaiyaraaja were a big plus for the flick.
In an interview, Rajiv Anchal said he was proud to be the first Malayalam filmmaker to get nominated for the Oscars.
He added that he wouldn’t be disappointed even if the film failed to get an award and was happy that it suited the tastes of the materialistic West by offering the spiritual answer they were looking for.
Adaminte Makan Abu (Abu, son of Adam)
Adaminte Makan Abu, directed by Salim Ahamed (2011), featured Salim Kumar and Zarina Wahab in the lead roles.
It is about the story of a perfume seller named Abu (Salim Kumar) who wishes to go on the Haj pilgrimage with his wife (Zarina Wahab). Abu strives hard to fulfil his long pending wish.
The movie also starred Mukesh, Kalabhavan Mani, Suraj Venjarammoodu, and Nedumudi Venu in supporting roles.
It was India’s official entry to the 84th Academy Awards in the Best Foreign Film category.
Director Salim Ahamed had a tough time promoting the flick for nomination. According to him, screening of the movie was essential in the USA and at least six showings for the jury members were necessary to get support for a nomination.
The nomination would not directly result in monetary rewards and hence, nobody would loan him money. However, people in the Gulf region came to his assistance, the director revealed.
Lijo Jose Pellissery’s Jallikattu (2019) is based on a short story titled Maoist.
The action-thriller was headlined by Antony Varghese, Chemban Vinod Jose, Sabumon Abdusamad, and Santhy Balachandran.
The plot revolves around a bull that escaped from a slaughterhouse in Kerala’s Idukki. The movie deals with the chaos that happens in the village as people are on a mission to hunt the bull.
The screenplay was written by S Hareesh and R Jayakumar.
Jallikattu was selected as the Indian entry for the Best International Feature Film for the 93rd Academy Awards, but it was not nominated.
Following this, several industry experts pointed out the need to promote the Malayalam film so it gets a nomination. They also stressed the need to run campaigns that could cost around ₹10 crore.
Need for a PR team
After Jallikattu didn’t get nominated, industry insiders felt that the film producers needed to camp in Los Angeles for a few months. They also asserted that the Jallikattu team should hire a PR team, hold screenings for jury members, and get featured on major American media outlets — print, radio, television, and digital — to promote the flick.
In fact, the producers of the Telugu film RRR (2022) reportedly spent around ₹80 crore on lobbying alone — to push the film for the Oscars. And their efforts paid off as the “Naatu Naatu” song received the Best Original Song at the Oscars.
After all, at the end of the day, these promotions could help in a full-fledged theatrical release in at least some parts of the USA, thereby winning a nomination. Well, it’s a huge process. Now, let’s see what’s in store for 2018!