Barely 2 months after the sudden disappearance of flight MH370 that was en route from Malaysia to Beijing , there has been a growth in the emergence of books and films based on the incident.
At the 67th Cannes Film Festival recently, Indian director and filmmaker Rupesh Paul pitched his idea of a thriller drama which is adapted from the MH370 tragedy that involved the lives of 239 people on board. A 90-second trailer which featured panic-stricken aircrew and terrified passengers aboard a turbulent MAS aircraft was presented to potential investors.
Paul’s RPPL production company describe the film as “the story of five young people, their plans on revenge and the resulting havoc they infuse on the world” and that it is “inspired from events in real life”.
Creation of the Movie
The movie, titled ‘The Vanishing Act’, will revolve around the investigation and search that took place after the plane’s disappearance. Paul said that the inspiration for the movie was the various explanations and theories that were generated by the people; one of which was by a Malaysian journalist, which prompted him to use it in the movie.
Paul spent 20 days working on the screenplay and incorporated the journalist’s idea as the ending. Apparently, the said journalist -who wishes to remain anonymous- is one of the film’s investors.
The trailer took six days to film and the actual movie’s budget is estimated to be about $3.5 million. Paul says that more than 200 actors will be needed for the 35-day shoot and the movie should be released this August.
Disapproval from CNN Anchors
Paul clearly doesn’t think that it’s too soon to produce a film that is about an international tragedy, but CNN co-anchors John Berman and Michaela Pereira were not so convinced. Berman questioned his consideration and sensitivity for the families of the people on board the flight, to which Paul replied, “There’s a lot of hysteria on social media against the movie, but we, all the crew, are taking this very seriously and this movie has no intentions to hurt one single person who traveled in the flight.”
Paul continued, “We are considering the story of this movie very seriously because it came to me as an investigative report which was proposed to be published as a book, not as a movie. So basically the content is off the books which was very serious with a lot of revelations in it”.
Pereira then asked Paul for the reason he did not wait longer before the production of the movie to protect the feelings and emotions of the families as they still have no closure over the unfortunate event.
Paul explains that viewers should treat the movie as an investigation report because it is also based on facts and not 100 percent fiction.
Berman disagrees with him, however, since as of now still many facts about the plane are still unknown; thus Berman was concerned about how families of the victims would feel watching scenes of the passengers being frightened in the plane.
Paul insists that the trailer was only meant for marketing purposes and does not actually portray the actual plot and story of the film, and promises a hopeful ending for the movie.
Both co-anchors clearly did not agree with his explanation and Pereira retorted, “That’s the part that I think is going to leave a bad taste in some people’s mouth.”
Reaction from the Public
The general reaction from the public and the netizens have been quite negative, as can be seen in the number of ‘dislikes’ that is on the movie trailer on Youtube.
Many were outraged that Paul was trying to make money out of the disaster while many families are still mourning over their loved ones.
Danica Weeks, the wife of one of the MH370 passengers said that it is too upsetting to dwell on the books and films being produced about the tragedy. She last saw her husband, Paul when he left Perth for a job in Mongolia. Weeks said, “It makes me so angry that they could do something so heartless… when we know nothing.” “It is way too early. I wish they would put their energy into helping us find the truth.”
Some were also unhappy about the accuracy of the film, observantly pointing out that the MH370 was a Boeing 777; however, the aircraft in the trailer was an MAS Boeing 747. According to fz.com, the plane starts off as a B747, which apparently becomes a B777 halfway during the trailer, and finally ends as an A380.
A few people have commented positively on the video on Youtube and showed interest to watch the movie when it’s released, but angry follow-up comments from other Youtube viewers were instigated.
Another recent aircraft-related movie that was just released this year is Non-Stop, a movie about a U.S. federal air marshal who receives a series of text messages during a flight that put his fellow passengers at risk. Alex Heineman, who produced the recent thriller-action film, stated that he personally wouldn’t produce a true-life disaster story such as his because it’s sad and he doesn’t want to exploit that kind of situation.
Defense from Rupesh Paul
Despite critics lashing out at Paul for his supposed disrespect towards the families and crew of MH370, Paul has defended his actions saying that he is no stranger to controversy as his first movie, The Temptations Between My Legs was denied a censor’s certificate; and although he has had box office flops such has My Mother’s Laptop, he still wishes to “remain an artist at any cost”. He also claimed that he has received more love, “overwhelming love” in fact, than backlash from people.
Paul has stated that the movie is meant to be a thriller and although the controversy of the missing plane will help indirectly, they are not cashing in on the flight.
Disclaimer from Associate Director, Sritama Dutta
Sritama Dutta, the film’s associate director, has insisted that while the movie is inspired and based on the missing Boeing 777, it is also the product of creative minds. Dutta said the true facts about the plane is changing everyday and it’s impractical to make the movie completely based on real-life events because there are too many developments surrounding the incident. According to NBC News, Dutta claims that the only similarity between the movie and the disaster is that a plane is missing.
Publication of related books
Other than films, books regarding the flight have been released as well. Nigel Cawthorne, a British author who has written about 150 books, wrote “Flight MH370” which claims that the plane was accidentally shot down during a US/Thai military exercise and therefore was quickly covered up for fear of retaliatory attacks.
This theory is apparently based on an eyewitness, New Zealander Mike McKay, who saw a ball of fire in the sky while working on the oil rig in the South China Sea in the early hours of March 8. There is, however, no further proof or evidence to this claim.
On the Today Show recently, co-host Karl Stefanovic criticized Cawthorne for his insensitivity and called his choice of words in the book ‘disgusting’. This is referring to a segment in the book that states “They’ll never be sure, the families, what happened to their loved ones. Did they die painlessly unaware of their fate or did they die in terror in a flaming wreck crashing down from the sky at the hands of a madman?”.