Documentary channel

The long and hard journey from Tamil Nadu to Singapore, told through sweat and some poetry

Vishal Daryanomel’s documentary is a macro study of migration through one man’s experience.

N Rengarajan moved to Singapore in 2014 to work as a labourer on a construction worker, and three years later, he already has strong opinions on his adopted home. In his poems, he describes his journey as “a pilgrimage that reeks of money,” reciting his Tamil poem Life Overseas: Pluses and Minuses.

Filmmaker Vishal Daryanomel’s documentary Between Pudukkottai and Singapore uses Rengarajan’s poems as the basis for an exploration of the hopes, dreams and anxieties of migrants in Singapore. Using Rengarajan’s three poems that primarily juxtapose his migration to Singapore and its effects on his personal life, the film is shot at places such cricket grounds and parks in the Little India district in the country. “We wanted to depict spaces where migrant workers would usually spend their time,” the director said. “And in Singapore, those spaces are limited. Some Singaporeans might not even frequent those places when it is really busy. So we wanted to use his lines and put a visual to it.”

The 18-minute documentary will be launched at the Singapore Writers Festival on November 10. “The goal for the film is to raise awareness about the human elements in our migrant worker population, which is sometimes lost in Singapore,” the independent filmmaker said. “It is to make people understand that they are not in Singapore just as labourers, but that they also have the dreams and talents that a lot of us have.”

A Singaporean of Indian descent, Daryanomel was drawn to the subject during his volunteering days at the Annual Migrant Workers Poetry event in 2014. Rengarajan was the only Indian poet at the event, competing against migrant workers from other countries. “His poetry resonated with me and that is why I thought we could go on this project together,” Daryanomel said. “The dynamic was very interesting because the Singapore migrant population is made up of Bangladeshis, Indians from South India and largely from Punjab. At the same time we also have migrant workers from Thailand and Cambodia. Being the only Tamil poet without a support system performing at the event was pretty great.”

The film uses observational footage to subtly point out the differences between aspirations and actualities. Between Pudukkottai and Singapore sticks with the poorer sections of the Tamil community in Singapore – the labourers who have incurred financial debt, have to face entry barriers in finding jobs, and general stereotypes about the Indian community. The Tamil-speaking community in Singapore has coexisted peacefully in the country except for riots in 2013, which were sparked off by an Indian construction worker’s death in a road accident.

But the film is not a sob story. In one of the film’s best sequences, Rengarajan describes the one thing he loves the most about his life away from his homeland. “Back in my country, if it is crowded, we tussle for a ticket and a place in the bus. But here in Singapore, we follow suit and don’t cut the queue,” he says with a smile.

Play
Between Pudukkottai to Singapore (2017).
Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Can a colour encourage creativity and innovation?

The story behind the universally favoured colour - blue.

It was sought after by many artists. It was searched for in the skies and deep oceans. It was the colour blue. Found rarely as a pigment in nature, it was once more precious than gold. It was only after the discovery of a semi-precious rock, lapis lazuli, that Egyptians could extract this rare pigment.

For centuries, lapis lazuli was the only source of Ultramarine, a colour whose name translated to ‘beyond the sea’. The challenges associated with importing the stone made it exclusive to the Egyptian kingdom. The colour became commonly available only after the invention of a synthetic alternative known as ‘French Ultramarine’.

It’s no surprise that this rare colour that inspired artists in the 1900s, is still regarded as the as the colour of innovation in the 21st century. The story of discovery and creation of blue symbolizes attaining the unattainable.

It took scientists decades of trying to create the elusive ‘Blue Rose’. And the fascination with blue didn’t end there. When Sir John Herschel, the famous scientist and astronomer, tried to create copies of his notes; he discovered ‘Cyanotype’ or ‘Blueprints’, an invention that revolutionized architecture. The story of how a rugged, indigo fabric called ‘Denim’ became the choice for workmen in newly formed America and then a fashion sensation, is known to all. In each of these instances of breakthrough and innovation, the colour blue has had a significant influence.

In 2009, the University of British Columbia, conducted tests with 600 participants to see how cognitive performance varies when people see red or blue. While the red groups did better on recall and attention to detail, blue groups did better on tests requiring invention and imagination. The study proved that the colour blue boosts our ability to think creatively; reaffirming the notion that blue is the colour of innovation.

When we talk about innovation and exclusivity, the brand that takes us by surprise is NEXA. Since its inception, the brand has left no stone unturned to create exclusive experiences for its audience. In the search for a colour that represents its spirit of innovation and communicates its determination to constantly evolve, NEXA created its own signature blue: NEXA Blue. The creation of a signature color was an endeavor to bring something exclusive and innovative to NEXA customers. This is the story of the creation, inspiration and passion behind NEXA:

Play

To know more about NEXA, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of NEXA and not by the Scroll editorial team.