Masala Mix 2 stirs discussion on “Indian culture”
“What exactly makes an Indian film? Is it the casting or the language?” This was raised during a Q&A session at Sinema Showoff! Masala Mix 2.
Masala Mix 2 screened to full house yesterday at Sinema with a selection of short local films to celebrate the upcoming Deepavali festivities.
While some films like It’s Magic and Ananthi explored themes of love and revenge, others like Masala Mama had a homosexual tone. Though all the films had a subtle element of Indian culture, the directors shared that their focus was not on the Indian culture but more of relationships and values.
During the Q&A session, there were questions raised about the programme’s emphasis on the Indian element. An audience felt that there has been an overplay on the Indian element as she did not “seem to see the Indian (element)”. She added that while Moving was a “great film”, the only Indian essence was the presence of an Indian actor.
“Actually to me, it wasn’t about making Indian films. It was more about tolerance,” said Michael Kam, director of Masala Mama.
“Throughout the process of making the films, I realised that there’s something energetic and natural about Indian actors,” said Jonathan Choo, producer of Scot Free. “Initially while I was making the film, I didn’t know much about Indian culture, and that’s why you see that it (the film) can be pretty stereotypical.”
An audience observed that the actors in Deadly Secrets sounded “twisted” and “Singaporean”, and she asked whether it would have been better if the actors spoke in Tamil instead.
“The film was originally done in Tamil and it was 10 times better than the English version. When the husband scold the wife, you will actually cry for her,” Pugalenthii Ramakrishnan said.
He has made an English and Tamil version of the film in three and a half days, and explained that the reason why they filmed in English was because of “some proposal for MDA”.
Ramakrishnan said that while there was self-censoring in sexual references, there were also logistics issues that prevented him from following the script. He gave an example of a scene where the actress was required to sit on the balcony, but they decided against it as they were situated on the 14th floor.
While Jeremy Sing, director of Moving, had purposely made a more subtle approach to the sexual references in the film, Michael felt that he may have gone overboard with the homosexual theme in Masala Mama, and added that “it was close to what I had in mind”.
“There were some film festivals that were not receptive to homosexual tones (in my film), while there were some that were receptive. In the end, as a filmmaker (for short films), I hope to make it into film festivals…I am not making a feature film, which can cost thousands and thousands of dollars.”
Sinema Showoff! is a programme that showcases short films and selected music videos produced in Singapore by both local and foreign filmmakers. The programme is hosted by Sinema Old School and curated by academic staff and students from Singapore Polytechnic, School of Architecture and the Built Environment.