Wel­come to his par­lour

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Showbiz - By ANGELIN YEOH en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my

FILM­MAKER ST Bala was in­spired to make a film about death af­ter ob­serv­ing the many so­cial be­hav­iours of peo­ple at, well, fu­ner­als. He said peo­ple don’t seem to be­have ap­pro­pri­ately at what is sup­posed to be a solemn af­fair.

“I’ve been to fu­ner­als where peo­ple treat it as a jovial func­tion. I can hear them laugh­ing and jok­ing around. It’s as if when a per­son dies, he is no longer re­mem­bered as a per­son. I don’t ex­pect peo­ple to be sad but I do feel they should be more re­spect­ful,” he shared dur­ing a phone in­ter­view.

As a film­maker and grad­u­ate of the now-de­funct Akademi Filem Malaysia, Bala, 49, feels he can use the medium to send a mes­sage about how the de­ceased should be re­mem­bered at fu­ner­als. He came up with RIP? – a Tamil drama that cen­tres around the fu­neral of a man and how his death af­fects those around him, set within one day.

“RIP? shows what hap­pens af­ter a man dies of a heart at­tack. At his fu­neral, fam­ily mem­bers are fight­ing over who should get his prop­erty and re­tire­ment funds. They seem to for­get that a man has just died.”

Bala said one the big­gest chal­lenges that came with mak­ing RIP? was the lo­ca­tion. His team needed only one house in Kuala Lumpur for the story to un­fold. How­ever, he couldn’t get any home­own­ers to agree to lend him their place af­ter he told them about the movie’s premise.

“No one would al­low us to set up a fu­neral in their house. Thank­fully, we man­aged to find a place and make it look like a home.”

Film­ing was com­pleted in five days with a bud­get of less than RM200,000.

Bala hopes RIP? – star­ring Ra­ma­sun­tran Ren­gan (of Jan­gan Ketawa fame), Venu­mathi Peru­mal and S.S. Shiva­jee – will be well­re­ceived by the au­di­ence.

That wasn’t the case when he re­leased his first Ba­hasa Malaysia film, It’s The Moment Yang Arif, last year. It was a ma­jor box-of­fice dis­ap­point­ment, earn­ing only RM4,678.36. Bala said the fail­ure of It’s The Moment Yang Arif hit him hard and, he has no one to blame but him­self.

“It’s The Moment Yang Arif was adapted from a Tamil-lan­guage play that I wrote. I thought since the play was pop­u­lar surely it can do well as a Ba­hasa Malaysia film. So I took a risk and wanted to do some­thing dif­fer­ent. I’ve learned my mis­take. It has be­come a valu­able les­son for me.”

Bala – whose pre­vi­ous works in­clude Kaliyugha (2012) and Tun V.T. Sam­ban­than biopic Sam­ban­than (2014) – de­scribed film­mak­ing as a “life-long pas­sion”.

When he grad­u­ated from Akademi Filem Malaysia in 1998, he couldn’t find any op­por­tu­nity to make films so he fo­cused on theatre. Once the op­por­tu­nity fi­nally came along, he made sure to con­tinue mak­ing films.

“I’ve had peo­ple tell me ‘Ex­cuse me Mr Bala, you can’t make movies’. I have been booed. I don’t care what other peo­ple say. With ev­ery fail­ure, I’m learn­ing to adapt to what au­di­ences like. I won’t give up.”

RIP? opens at se­lected cin­e­mas to­mor­row.

— YouTube

In Bala’s lat­est movie, a fu­neral brings a fam­ily to­gether and pos­si­bly drives them apart as they ar­gue over the de­ceased’s ma­te­rial pos­ses­sions.

— Filepic

Film­maker Bala was in­spired to make RIP? af­ter ob­serv­ing the way peo­ple be­haved at fu­ner­als.

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