Malayalam film 2018’s second-best performance in Bengaluru after home turf Kerala

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An area in Kuttanad in Alappuzha district of Kerala during the August 2018 floods. The film 2018 is based on the natural disaster that left around 500 people dead across 14 districts of the state.
| Photo Credit: AP

“Things were very bad,” says Archana Rithin, a Bengaluru resident, remembering the 2018 floods that killed around 500 people across 14 districts in Kerala. 2018, a Malayalam film on the state’s worst-ever disaster is winning hearts across the globe.

The well-crafted film has achieved the feat of being the third Malayalam film ever to enter the 100-crore club. It’s breathing on the neck of the industry’s top two grossing films, Lucifer (175 crore) and Pulimurugan (152 crore)

Second home for Keralites

In India, after its home turf (Kerala), the film has performed the best in Bengaluru, considered the second home for Keralites. 2018 is the most successful Malayalam film ever in Karnataka, with Bengaluru contributing the maximum to the film’s ₹5 crore collection at the state’s box office. Around 15 lakh Malayalees reside in the city. During the floods, it was a nightmarish period for many in Bengaluru. They prayed for the safety of their loved ones, who were fighting for survival back home in Kerala.

Ms. Rithin reveals how her family was concerned about her father-in-law. “My husband’s father was alone in Pathanamthitta when the floods began. We were busy in Bengaluru running a start-up. Initially, we weren’t able to gauge the intensity of the situation. We panicked after we learnt about the worsening developments in Kerala. We couldn’t reach out to his father due to network issues. We requested one of his neighbours to help him,” she says.

After a quiet start in Bengaluru, with just 22 shows in the first week, 2018 grew big on word-of-mouth publicity to get a whopping 160 shows in the city in the second week. 

‘Real Kerala Story’

The relatability factor and the message of unity make 2018 the ‘real Kerala story’, says Reji Kumar, an IT professional and general secretary of Bengaluru’s Kerala Samajam, which has 5000 Malayali families part of it.

“People in Kerala had this reputation of being selfish about their property. But the floods broke the caste and religion barriers and made people come together to face a calamity. The film shows the real Kerala unlike the other film,” says Mr. Kumar, indicating his displeasure at the controversial Bollywood film The Kerala Story, which shows women in Kerala coerced into converting to Islam and then recruited by the terrorist organisation ISIS.

Mr. Kumar was at the forefront of Kerala Samajam’s help to the flood victims. “Around 30 volunteers worked 24 hours during that time. We sent 28 truckloads in 15 trucks to Kerala from Bengaluru. We sent materials based on the requirement of each of the eight districts we covered, including worst-hit places like Wayanad and Alappuzha. My father, an ex-serviceman, was alone in a double-story building with my mother when water started flowing inside the house in Chengannur in Alappuzha. Somehow, we contacted the CM’s office, through which we sent a boat to my parent’s house to ensure they are safe,” he says.

Earlier Malayalam movies

Malayalam cinema’s tryst with Bengaluru has been strong since the industry witnessed a new-generation wave. Bangalore Days, Drishyam, and Premam have had glorious runs in the city. Films like 2018 remind people of an extraordinary survival story, feels Lawrence Fernandes, who headed a voluntary group that sent flood relief materials to Kerala.

“We wanted help in an organised way. So, we made posters about our initiative and posted them on our respective Instagram pages. What started as a small initiative grew big as many associations in Bengaluru donated materials through our group. We raised around ₹ 5 lakh relief fund,” says Lawrence, an HR manager. During his seven-day volunteering stint at Panamaram in Wayanad, he remembers the ravaged region resembling a war-hit area, exactly how it’s reflected in the film, which shows the plight of the several refugee camps.

2018, which has crossed over 2000 shows in Karnataka so far, is set to be a pan-Indian film. It will release in Hindi, Telugu, and Tamil on May 26.