Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Shanjhey Kumar Perumal has just directed a Malaysian Tamil film called Jagat which is about is a coming of-age story which explores the boy’s relationship with his father and uncles. I have interviewed this director and here is the full story that was published in theSun today.  

Headline: Following A Dream 
By Bissme S

Shanjhey Kumar Perumal certainly proved that dreams can come true if we have the courage and faith to pursue them. When he entered the film industry 10 years ago, his dream was to direct a feature film. He never once lost faith in that.
Recently, his dream came true when he completed his first feature film, Jagat, which is based on a screenplay he wrote. If everything goes on track, this Malaysian-made Tamil film will open in cinemas here in mid December.
 “It is hard to get backers interested in financing a movie,” says the 35-year-old Shanjhey, who has directed television shows and documentaries
mostly in Tamil but also in bahasa.
But with digital know-how, production costs nowadays can be kept low, and that has tempted him to turn his longtime dream into reality.
Shot with a budget of RM600,000, Jagat (bottom, right) takes place in the 90s and focuses on a 12-year-old Indian boy called Shankar whose family has moved from a rubber estate to a big town and ended up living in a squatter area.
Shanjhey explains that Jagat is a coming of-age story which explores the boy’s relationship with his father and uncles. His father is a general worker while one of his uncles is a gangster and another is a drug addict.
The boy Shankar is played by newcomer Harvin Raj. Others in the cast include Jibrail Rajhula, Tinesh Sathi Krishnan, Kuben Mahadevan, Senthil Kumaran
Muniandy, G. Crak Asuranz and Aahmuu Thirunyanam.
The idea for the story first came to Shanjhey 10 years ago. Initially, it was supposed to be a comedy but with time, the story turned into a drama.
“When you are young, you are more playful and attracted to fun stuff,” says Shanjhey.
“But as you get older, you are less playful and more serious.”
When asked what he intends to impart in his film, Shanjhey says: “Many Malaysian Indians have forgotten their history and their roots. I am hoping this film will remind them to cherish their past.
“In the 80s and 90s, many Indian families migrated from the rubber estates to the town areas, and my film captures this aspect of history. It follows
the challenges of the members of one particular family as they try to adapt to their new environment.”
Shanjhey is hoping that other races who watch the film will, indirectly, come to understand the Malaysian Indian community better.
“We live in a multiracial society and, sad to say, we do not really understand each other well,” he says.
He recalls doing a documentary about 1Malaysia a few years ago where he asked
people in the streets what they think about 1Malaysia.
“Everyone was commenting on food. They think 1Malaysia is about eating nasi lemak, char kway teow and thosai.
“I really believe our racial unity should be more than just eating each other’s food. We should also try to understand each other’s history and culture. One of the simplest ways to do that is through the arts. When you understand each other’s history and culture, there will be less hatred among us.”
He also reveals that the film’s story has similarities to his own life story. When he was five, his family had to stay in a squatter  area, just like Jagat’s Shankar.
“I stayed in the squatter area for three years before moving into a double-storey house,”says Shanjhey.
He included some of his early experiences living in the squatter area in the film, and used some of the people he met as inspiration for the characters
in the story.
“When I was young, I wanted to be a scientist,” he remembers.
“When I became a teenager,I wanted to be a gangster instead,
because I found that society seemed to have more respect for such people compared to educated people.”
Luckily, as he grew older, Shanjhey became wiser and realised that becoming a gangster would not benefit him in the long run. One wonders how his
parents feel about his career as a filmmaker.
Laughing, he says: “My father seems to be all right with my career choice. But it is a different story with my mother. She wanted me to have a career
that provides a stable income, like a teacher. Even now, my mother keeps telling me to get a proper job.”
Yet, Shanjhey has no regrets.
“I know I am walking a difficult path but I am happy with my choice. I have the privilege to do what my heart desires.”

Shanjhey.... telling a story that is close to his heart

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