Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sambanthan, a true Malaysian hero

Malaysia's Gen-Y might have a vague idea of who Tun V.T. Sambanthan is while the Gen-X might only associate his name with a main road near Brickfields. This is the unfortunate truth that we face when it comes to the knowledge of the country’s rich history and the prominent people behind it. Taking this into account, local director S.T. Bala, who staged a play about this respected leader in Istana Budaya in 2008, releases a full-length Tamil biopic simply titled, Sambanthan. The biopic chronicles the life of Thirunyanasambanthan Thevar Veerasamy Thevar or Tun Sambanthan and his valuable contributions to the Malaysian Indian society. The film opens with Vigneswaran Kannan, who plays the role of an old Sambanthan reflects on his life, after he received mounting pressure from various quarters for him to step down as Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) President. The other highlights in the movie include Bala's interpretation of Sambanthan’s contributions to enable social co-operatives which was later called the National Land and Finance Co-operative Society (NLFCS), to help plantation workers during the British land sell-off. Bala showcased how Sambanthan purchased estates and convinced labourers, who were toying with the idea of returning to their homeland, to stay and work in the estates. In a scene where Sambanthan tells his mother that people say he looks like a man selling ‘kacang puteh’ with his traditional men Indian attire (veshti) but insisted that he would continue wearing it to the Parliament, brought smiles to the audiences. The highlight of the movie was when Sambanthan was called to chair the cabinet meeting for a day when the former Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman was overseas and his deputy Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman had passed away. The minute Sambanthan sat in the chair to start the cabinet meeting, the audience started applauding and cheering. Actor Kisukumar Armum who played the character of a young Sambanthan, stood out with his impeccable performance. Right from the word 'go', Armum stole the show with his natural on-screen persona. Tunku Abdul Rahman’s character, played by Mohammad Hafizudin Mohd Ruslan, could have been better, as the actor’s mannerism was laughed at numerous times. Bala said he spent between eight and 10 months on research before filming started. “It is a patriotic biopic. 1Malaysia has always been in the Malaysian community even in the old days. I wanted to showcase that. Malaysians from all races can relate to this story,” he said adding that the biopic was funded by the Communication and Multimedia ministry. Bala said the movie should be played in every Tamil school in the country to give the students a clearer picture of the fifth MIC president’s contribution to the nation, as he is one of the key people who help Malaya achieve its independence. Sambanthan DVDs will be sold to the public soon. Read more at:

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