5 Feb – As the first Tamil language Malaysian movie to screen in cinemas for eight weeks running now, the question on everyone's mind is how long more can "Jagat" maintain its impressive hold on the local audience?
Since its release on 17 December 2015 and debuting in 11th place at the local box office chart, the Skyzen Studios production has surpassed 51 days at the cinema and this has given its director-screenwriter Shanjhey Kumar Perumal great faith in Malaysian audiences.
Through positive word of mouth praising the film's touching storyline and impressive acting, the slow burning flame of "Jagat" had lured in more audiences despite the controversy the film had earlier faced.
Shortly after "Jagat" was released, a press conference was held by the filmmaker and his producer to address cinemas removing the film's showtimes from their schedules and allocating it unreasonable 'graveyard' slots, so that eventually "Jagat" would be removed from cinemas, citing poor ticket sales to make way for bigger Hollywood movies.
Following that uproar, remaining screenings saw audiences of all races racing to catch the film in cinemas to save it, and this had resulted in a sudden burst of decent hall occupancies prompting cinemas to keep screening the film.
Currently, the Wajib Tayang film is playing at GSC NU Sentral at a fixed timing of 3:00pm and 8:00pm daily.
"To be honest, we knew that the film will gain positive reviews from Malaysians, but we never expected it would go viral to this extent."
"We really would like to thank all the people of Malaysia for appreciating "Jagat"," said Shanjhey to Cinema Online.
The film has grossed approximately RM250,000 to date, however Shanjhey says that it's sad to notice that the film's critical achievement doesn't translate equally into 'dollar and cents'.
"It's too late to blame any parties at this juncture. But as we have proposed directly to the Director General of FINAS (National Film Development Corporation Malaysia), there should be a mechanism in place to accommodate critical films such as "Jagat" in the future. It has to be done immediately to rightly identify the possible 'slow poison' kind of movies which starts off rather slowly, but picks up momentum after few days at the cinemas."
"Right now, the 'one-size-fits-all' Wajib Tayang policy doesn't help much in terms of the commercial success of critical movies."
But Shanjhey won't let this hinder him from making more movies. His next film is targeted for 2018 and he's analysing which story will be best to be presented as his second feature film.
"I still need some time to get out completely from the "Jagat" world. I need to unlearn and relearn. I have a few stories that have been 'disturbing' me just like what "Jagat" did for almost 10 years. It's a battle between which story will resonate with my soul the most versus one that needs time, resources, maturity and intelligence to be handled."
When asked how long he foresees "Jagat" to keep playing in cinemas thanks to the support of his fellow Malaysians, Shanjhey says, "Well, I would say as long as possible."
"There are more than 5,000 film festivals around the globe. It's easier to make a pretentious film and for it to appear in a few festivals, but we wanted the film to hit and reach the heart of Malaysians first."