Bad Boy turns into Golden Boy

Kuala Lumpur: Setting out on a career path in the creative arts instead of popular ones like lawyer or doctor is never easy, especially in Asia, where mindsets and beliefs are strongly entrenched in academic qualifications as being the only guarantee for a stable job and successful life. 

For Shanjhey Kumar Perumal, the award-winning film-maker of 'Jagat' which became a critical success including winning the Best Malaysian Film award in last year's Malaysia Film Festival, his rise to recognition and success has been nothing short of tumultuous and remarkable. 

He shared his journey as well as his take on the Malaysian film industry with communications and mass media students from UCSI University (UCSI) and University Malaya during Malayawood – Road to Oscars. He was joined on stage by the film's producer, Siva Perianan, for a panel after a screening of the movie. 

Jagat, an offbeat social realism story, brings to light the plight of the Malaysian Indians, who are forsaken by the estate owners and are forced to move to the cities and survive under harsh circumstances, shown through the eyes of the movie's young protagonist, Appoy. 

According to Sanjhey, Jagat refers to a slang derived from Malay word jahat, loosely translated as 'bad'. He added that the story is a semi-autobiography of his own life and the characters and storylines are based on his personal experiences and observations. 

Made on small budget of RM300k for production and RM200K for marketing, the movie became a sleeper hit amongst Malaysians including the non-Tamil-speaking audience, and continues to garner praise and recognition at top film festivals worldwide even today. 

Sanjhey and Siva shared their struggle on getting resources and funding for 'Jagat' which was a 10-year labour of love despite cynicisms and absence of support. They also spoke candidly about the banes of the Malaysian film industry pertaining to censorship constraints and poor support for local films from distribution lines such as cinema chains. 

When asked about their future projects and ambitions, the dynamic duo shared that apart from their next project which is an action Malay movie, they would continue to help build a robust Malaysian film industry with its own brand of uniqueness for a worldwide traction. 

They also hoped that film literacy will grow in Malaysia and Malaysians will come to love local works of art as much as they do Hollywood or Bollywood movies. Sanjhey also lamented on the lack of creative expression amongst Malaysian film-makers which he attributes to the overemphasis on techniques and formats in Malaysian film studies. 

His advice for aspiring film-makers, actress or actor - find out the 'why' – why does one wants to make films or act. Speaking from a decade of experience, he insists this inner motivation will help to anchor and guide during trying times in an industry that remains challenging. 

The movie screening and talk show was organised by the Mass Communication department of UCSI's Faculty of Social Sciences and Liberal Arts under the diligent supervision of the department's lecturers, Miss Ghazila Ghazi and Mr Mohd Farizi. 

The department regularly conducts forums and discourses on media issues and trends from leaders and famous personalities in the industry to enable students acquire current and invaluable perspectives and exposure of the industry. 

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