Thursday, June 15, 2017
Shanjhey Kumar Perumal
Sunday will be Father's Day. theSun got the award winning film maker Shanjhey Kumar Perumal, to describe his relationship with his father and his new born son.
Headline: A Son's Lasting Gratitude
By Bissme S
Filmmaker Shanjhey Kumar Perumal’s debut film, Jagat, was somewhat inspired by his own relationship with his father, Perumal Annamalai, 68. The film, written by the 37-year-old centres on a boy who tries to find a suitable role model among the three men in his life – his labourer father and his two uncles. His father has very little time for him, while one uncle is a gangster, and the other, aformer drug addict.
Jagat created history when it became the first non-Bahasa Malaysia film to grab the best film award at the 28th Malaysian Film Festival in 2016. Shanjhey also walked away with the best new director award. Jagat went on to take five more awards at the 2016 Kuala Lumpur Film Critics Awards.
On March 31 this year, Shanjhey became a first-time father with the birth of his son. That life-changing experience allowed him to understand his own dad better.
It also affords him new insights into the bittersweet relationship he has had with his father from young.But he admits with a laugh: “I find my father to be a more loving grandfather than a father.”
Shanjhey is the eldest among three children. “When I was a kid, my relationship with my father was warm and sweet.”
He remembers playfully wrestling with his father on many occasions, and his dad reading bedtime stories to him.
“My father was the first person who told me about the Malaccan warrior Hang Tuah,” he says.
He believes his father’s storytelling inspired him to tell his own stories through films. But their relationship changed when Shanjhey entered his teenage years.
“There was bitterness in our relationship,” recalls Shanjhey of that period of time growing up in Parit Buntar, Perak.
“At one point, I even stopped talking to him.”
His father was a general worker and gardener at Shanjhey’s high school.Perumal also sold ice kacang and newspapers to earn extra money. Shanjhey would often help his father at the stall and to deliver newspapers.
“My father woke up at 5am every day, and only stopped working after 7pm,” he says.
“When he got home, he was too tired to spend time with me. I felt neglected. I was angry at him for putting his work first. I did not understand his predicament then.
“Looking back now, I realised he was working hard to put a roof over our heads, and food on our table. I should have been more grateful.”
Instead, the teenaged Shanjhey turned rebellious. He remembers an incident where one of his classmates made fun of his father. He got so angry that he attacked his classmate. Fortunately, his father
intervened and stopped the fight.
“I was protecting my father’s honour and he was not grateful,” recalls Shanjhey.
“Instead, he slapped me in front of my classmates, and I felt embarrassed. I was so furious at him after that.”
Things got worse when Shanjhey entered Form Six. His father forced him to stay with his uncle, who lived miles away from their hometown.
“I was angry at my father for separating me from my friends,” he says.
Only much later did Shanjhey realise that whatever his father did, it was done with the best intentions in mind.
From then on, he concentrated on his studies and eventually, graduated with a Communication degree in Film and Broadcasting from Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang.
“My father shaped me to be the person I am today,” he says.
“If he was not strict with me, I would have ended up as a bad hat.”
One thing Shanjhey really admires about his father is that Perumal never stopped him from pursuing his dream of becoming a filmmaker.
“He understood my passion for the arts and he wanted me to be happy,” he says.
Speaking on his own experience with fatherhood, Shanjhey says he was extremely nervous on the day his son, Arrievan, was born.
“There were some complications, and I was worried for the safety of my wife and my son. My son had to spend a day in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit).”
Fortunately, both mother and baby turned out fine afterwards. As a father, Shanjhey hopes to teach his son to respect others, to never be afraid to say sorry, and to never forget to say thank you.
He is also aware that his son might be a rebel during his teenage years, just as he was.
“Sometimes, [being a] rebel is a good thing,” he says.
Shanjhey is also aware that whatever path he takes, it will influence his son.
“So I must be careful with my choices,” he says.
But at the end of the day, he adds: “The important thing is, I want to give him the freedom to be who he is and who he wants to be.”