How do you feel abt Tin Kosong? What inspires you?
Before I decided on Tin Kosong, I was handed a list of titles written by notable Malay literary writers. Their stories are so varied (ie, personal, humour et al) and the genres written (ie science fiction, poems, contemporary fiction, historical) are so diverse. I have to admit that I was a little overwhelmed to read these good Malay texts and to pick something that I truly connect. The last time I actually read a book in the Malay language was during ‘A’ levels.
Out of these literary gems, I came across Tin Kosong, from Anugerah Bulan Buat Bonda, a collection of stories by Md Salihin Sulaiman. Tin Kosong is a collage of non-linear memories of an elderly, karung guni "rag and bone" man. It is written in simple prose. The subject matter is contemporary and the protagonist is someone that I could relate from various folks I meet regularly at my neighbourhood in Jurong. On picking a story, I felt that I need a material that I could connect emotionally to translate into the visual language effectively. When I read Tin Kosong, the story feels very grounded and alive, thus my decision.
What were challenges faced to make the short story into a film?
The biggest challenge is to translate the essence of the original literary text, truthfully and with respect. Before I wrote the treatment, I had a meeting with Salihin and discussed with him my concept for adapting his work, while he exchanged his inspiration for writing Tin Kosong. We had many ideas on how to translate his work into the visual form. I’m grateful that he liked my treatment.
The concept could have gone two ways; firstly, I could have approached it in a linear, rather conventional melodramatic manner or secondly, I could be more adventurous and put my spin to translate the text into a sophisticated, visual narrative yet keeping the essence of the original text. I chose the later.
To push the story concept, I have added a musical sequence using the song “Kalau Ke Singapura” by crooner, R Azmi. The lyrics of the song combined with the protagonist’s life journey enhanced the irony of living in a modern, progressive city.
The second challenge was my expectations of lead cast, Encik Khalid Baboo, in performing both the dramatic and musical sequences. He performed well, beyond my expectations with his professionalism as an actor.
About UTTER:Presented by the National Arts Council, Utter is a special Singapore Writers Festival initiative which showcases the best of Singapore writing and celebrates its potential to be adapted into different media and across languages, giving audiences fresh perspectives and a deeper understanding of Singaporean authors. Utter is targeted at literary and film enthusiasts, but also hopes to reach out to the general audience to encourage greater appreciation for local literature. Utter 2014 features short films inspired by Singaporean literature.
About Singapore Writers Festival:The Singapore Writers Festival, one of Asia’s premier literary events, started in 1986 as a biennial festival. Now held yearly, the festival is a much anticipated event on the cultural calendar, presenting the world’s major literary talents to Singaporeans while shining a spotlight on home grown creative talents. The SWF is one of the few multi-lingual literary festivals in the world, celebrating the written and spoken word in Singapore’s official languages – English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil.