Tovino Thomas interview on 2018 getting selected as India's Oscars entry - Hindustan Times

Tovino Thomas says ‘appreciation is my fuel’ after 2018 gets selected as India's official entry for Oscars

Sep 29, 2023 11:30 AM IST

In an exclusive interview, Tovino Thomas talks about 2018, his growth as an actor, and the kind of cinema that he would like to attempt in future.

Malayalam movie 2018, starring Tovino Thomas, is India's official entry for the Oscars, marking yet another milestone in the career of the actor known for essaying a wide array of roles in a relatively short time span. Set against the backdrop of the devastating floods in Kerala in 2018, the movie directed by Jude Anthany Joseph, features an ensemble cast including Kunchacko Boban, Asif Ali and Lal. (Also Read: Tovino Thomas' Malayalam disaster drama 2018 is India's official entry to Oscars 2024)

Tovino Thomas' 2018 has been selected as India's official Oscars entry
Tovino Thomas' 2018 has been selected as India's official Oscars entry

The movie showcases how the people of Kerala overcame the tumultuous period by staying on as a single unit fighting the nature’s rage. In this exclusive interview, Tovino Thomas, currently in Amsterdam to receive the award for the Best Asian Actor at the Septimius Awards 2023, talks about the movie 2018, his growth as an actor, and the kind of cinema that he would like to attempt in future. Excerpts:

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Congratulations Tovino. Not only have you won an international award for the movie 2018, but also the same film has now been picked as the official Indian entry for the Oscars. This was a difficult movie to plan and execute, wasn’t it? Many things could have gone wrong from a technical standpoint, considering you were filming a big natural disaster, but the team pulled it off.

There were many people who advised director Jude Anthany Joseph not to go ahead with the movie. Many thought it would be impossible to film it. But the director was confident about his technical prowess and my duty was to give him moral support. The producers, Venu Kunnappilly and Anto Joseph, were ready to give us all the resources possible. They went all out in supporting us throughout the shoot.

We were able to recreate a ‘real-life flood scenario’ on the sets and that translated into some stunning images on screen. Our message was loud and clear. We showed immense unity on the sets and the team work was excellent. Though this was a multi-starrer, dates of the various actors were managed very well. Many of them worked through minor health concerns, as no one wanted to disturb the rhythm of the shoot. Please note that usually the budget of Malayalam movies is the same as the promotional budgets of some of the Hindi movies! In this case we had a bigger budget to rely on but we took full responsibility for it.

Your stature as an actor has been growing steadily. Will some these accolades put more pressure on your career? How do you plan to handle the new expectations?

Appreciation is my fuel. I work hard for the recognition and every role I get is an opportunity to impress people. My responsibility is to ensure that the film reaches a wider audience.

In fact, my focus is completely on movies and I don’t take in any unnecessary stress. My family, friends and movies are my world. I do not plan too ahead and hence, I am relaxed.

Indian cinema is a diverse industry. We have movies coming out in so many languages. That way, we are different from Iranian cinema or Korean cinema. However, since our industry is so diverse, we don’t seem to have a clear stamp of what Indian cinema is, on an international stage.

Our culture is multi-layered and we are appreciating the work that’s happening in every industry, whether it’s South Indian movies or Bollywood. As far as Malayalam movies are concerned, we have always produced great content. All our senior actors and directors have shown us the way in creating magic on screen with shoestring budgets. The more local the subject, the more impact we’ll create internationally.

You have been an outsider in the industry with no filmi connections. How difficult was the struggle?

I was always willing to adapt. If you are pure at heart and have the right intentions, chances are that you will do well in any walk of life, provided you also work hard at it. I don’t design a project and take it on. Instead, my process is more organic.

Yes, it was a struggle in the beginning but now, I’m living my dream. My friends in the industry have also played a big role. Someone like director Basil Joseph, for instance. I met him for the first time when he came to narrate Godha. Later, we worked together in Minnal Murali. We both clicked because both of us came from small towns in Kerala wanting to make it big in the industry and were sincere in our approach.

The budgets available to the Malayalam movie industry are growing. That’s going to add more strength to the creative strength of everyone involved.

Yes, that’s a fact. We will able to mount bigger movies in the future, thanks to the bigger economic potential. But we’ll always be content-driven.

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