I wanted people to understand caste politics: Director Arun D Jose

'18 Plus: Journey of Love' is the Malayalam director's second venture where he discussed caste politics in Kerala through a love story.

ByArjun Ramachandran

Published Jul 13, 2023 | 11:00 AMUpdatedAug 10, 2023 | 1:06 PM

18 Plus directed by Arun D Jose

Arun D Jose’s latest outing 18 Plus: Journey of Love seems to have struck a chord with teenagers and families alike. The movie is drawing crowds to the theatres, thanks to word-of-mouth publicity.

18 Plus: Journey of Love is a romantic comedy that also deals with caste politics in Kerala.

A native of Wayanad, Arun D Jose has been in the industry for 10-12 years. He worked as an assistant and associate director for several movies.

Popular as ADJ, the filmmaker is interested in doing flicks of all genres. Currently, he’s working on a handful of projects that are yet to be announced.

In an exclusive chat with South First, the filmmaker shared his thoughts about his latest film and the political questions raised in it.

18 Plus is Arun D Jose's second film

’18 Plus’ is Arun D Jose’s second directorial. (Supplied)

‘All films are challenging’

18 Plus is Arun D Jose’s second directorial. His debut movie Jo and Jo (2022) was a super hit.

When asked if the second film was challenging, Jose noted that all films are challenging for a director.

“In his debut, a director will get the consideration that it’s his first movie. But that won’t be the case with the second movie,” he pointed out.

Related: ’18 Plus’ review: Arun D Jose’s rom-com criticises casteism in Kerala

About actors

The director wanted to cast most of the actors from northern Kerala as it would be easy for them to speak in the dialect.

Arun D Jose cast of 18 Plus

Arun D Jose with the cast of ’18 Plus’. (Supplied)

However, Mathew Thomas, Naslen and Syam were exceptions.

Further, the actors were picked from social media, especially Instagram Reels.

“I liked their performances in the reels. However, almost 70 percent of the actors were chosen through casting calls,” the director said.

When asked about Nikhila Vimal who played a guest role as a magistrate in the film, Arun D Jose stated that her role resembles the normal behaviour of human beings at different stages of life.

“We know that everyone has their own feelings and frustrations. In most of the films, the inner feelings of a magistrate or judge aren’t showcased. But in 18 Plus, we portrayed how things will be on the first day at the office of a judge.”

18 Plus crew

’18 Plus’ crew during the post-production works of the movie. (Supplied)

He added, “When we thought of showing this from this angle (first day in a judge’s office), we decided to portray Vimala’s character in a different way.”

The director also mentioned the L-Board on the magistrate’s car. “I am not sure how many noticed it but we thought it is least expected.”

Jose also praised Rajesh Madhav for putting up a good show as Satish, an advocate.

Also Read: Won’t do a mass film anytime soon: Ananda Deverakonda

Love + caste politics

Arun D Jose 18 Plus

Arun D Jose on the sets of ’18 Plus’. (Supplied)

Arun D Jose believes that romantic stories are always cliched. “It has been the same (love story) for a long time in Malayalam cinema. In love stories, eloping usually forms a part of the plot. But we thought of doing a film that is mostly based on eloping and that’s how we crafted 18 Plus.”

The idea was taken from an incident shared by Rajesh Varikkoli and the filmmaker thought of presenting the movie humorously, while simultaneously talking about caste politics.

He asserts that Malayalees are reluctant to admit that casteism still prevails in Kerala. “When every caste has a matrimonial site in the State, I thought it’s high time people understood the caste politics I wanted to highlight in my film.”

He further added, “But sadly, most people are considering 18 Plus as a romantic comedy and not pondering over the casteism mentioned in it. This would have been different in other states.”

The story in 18 Plus happens in Vadakara, Kozhikode district. “However, we are getting a good response from the Malabar area (northern Kerala),” Jose said.

Also Read: I want to do roles that have their own identity, says Sanju Sanichen