2023: Looking back with gratitude

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Jude Anthany Joseph on the sets of his film  2018 

Jude Anthany Joseph on the sets of his film  2018 
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Jude Anthany Joseph, director

I am getting over the disappointment of 2018: Everyone is a Hero having to bow out of the Oscar race, but I know I will get another chance and I will be back at the Academy Awards. When I look back on the year, I am grateful (personally and professionally) to 2023 for 2018 and the way it was received. And it is not so much the feedback from my peers and others in the industry but the ordinary man I meet when I go to the supermarket or to watch a film. They ask me how I made a film like 2018. I feel that, now, even if 10 of my films flop, I will still be known for that one film. I met a Malayali family on my recent trip to Los Angeles who couldn’t stop talking about 2018. It made me think that, perhaps, making the film is the purpose of my life.  
I hope to make a lot of films: Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and, of course, in Malayalam. But here’s the thing — they will all have the signature of a Malayali filmmaker. I have signed on with an LA-based talent agency DAA, Inc. I expected to be busy till March (with the Academy Awards) but since that has opened up, let’s see which project materialises first. 

Jude Anthany Joseph’s blockbuster film 2018 was India’s official entry in the category for international feature film at the 2024 Academy Awards. The film did not make it to the shortlist.

Rima Kallingal’s ‘Neythe’  

Rima Kallingal’s ‘Neythe’  
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Special Arrangement

Rima Kallingal

Rima Kallingal
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 Rima Kallingal, dancer/actor-producer 

I am grateful for the art in my life. From (the character of) Bhargavi (in the 2023 film Neelavelicham) and for Neythe, a dance production mounted by my dance company, Mamangam, to the upholstery I changed to the bouquet of flowers I made. Art kept me from drowning in 2023. I have become acutely conscious of how lucky I am to be an artist in this lifetime and that the vulnerability, emotions, and sensitivity that come along with it are lifelines. It [art] breaks me down and builds me up and never lets me settle! 

I am looking forward to, in 2024, to doing things I haven’t done till now. Maybe write something or mixology. Or I will finally learn to make my mother’s fish curry and, while I am it, have that serious mom-and-daughter conversation that needs to happen in everyone’s lifetime. 

Rima Kallingal’s Mamangam Dance Company mounted its maiden, original dance production Neythe, an ode to weavers and weaving, in Kochi and Bengaluru. 

A photograph from KR Sunil’s series on Chavittundadakam artistes

A photograph from KR Sunil’s series on Chavittundadakam artistes
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KR Sunil

KR Sunil
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K R Sunil, photographer/writer

2023 has given me a great platform to showcase my series of photographs of Chavittunadakam artistes, through which I could tell their story. These artistes are from marginalised communities, who live along the coastal belt of Kochi, which is constantly battling the consequences of tidal flooding. Most of these artistes live in water-logged houses, some of them in abject poverty. Despite their living conditions, they keep the interest in their art alive, which many of them inherited from their forefathers.

I staged photographs showing the Chavittunadakam artistes in their costumes set against the reality of their homes, each frame capturing the helplessness and uncertainty of their lives.  I believe it helped train the spotlight on the larger issue of climate change.

I am looking forward to 2024, as I will be continuing my work on capturing the lives and stories of people in relation to the sea.

K R Sunil’s series was shown as part of Sea: A Boiling Vessel, presented by Aazhi Archives (with Riyas Komu as its artistic director), that ran parallel to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2022-2023 at the Kashi Hallegua House and Heritage Arts in Mattancherry. The works are being shown at Contextual Cosmologies, curated by Bose Krishnamachari, at the College of Fine Arts, Thiruvananthapuram.

Tom Vattakuzhy’s work, ‘Departure’

Tom Vattakuzhy’s work, ‘Departure’
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Tom Vattakuzhy Tom Vattakuzhy

Tom Vattakuzhy Tom Vattakuzhy
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Tom Vattakuzhy, Artist

I am grateful that the cinematography of Malayalam film Kathal (the Core) was fuelled by the emotional landscape of the works that I did earlier this year. I suppose it is the first time an artist’s oeuvre has inspired a film in Kerala. According to the cinematographer Salu K Thomas, he was in search of a certain mood that he found in my works. I know that recreating a certain painting in a movie may not be that challenging, but to attempt to capture the emotional depth in an artist’s works is challenging as it demands a complete immersion into the emotional landscape of the artist. It gives me immense pleasure that he followed my paintings assiduously.

Making a painting is like an oyster making a pearl, adding layers to a substance at the core. I am grateful for my last show of the year, at Art Mumbai, where my work Departure was shown. It came about at a time my son was preparing to move out of Kerala for his studies. This has become common in the State, with people leaving either for education or employment; many of them don’t wish to come back. I see more vacant houses and an increase in old age homes. Many houses themselves have turned into old age homes with only the elderly left behind. This scenario could have led to Departure. I can only hint at the background or the situation that inspired a work.

I am looking forward to the India Art fair in Delhi and a solo show at the Aicon Contemporary Gallery, New York, in 2024.

Tom Vattakuzhy exhibited Death of Gandhi, II oil on Canvas, 9 x 6 ft, at the India Art Fair in February this year in New Delhi.

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