Production Talk - Certain Chapters' by Abbas Akbar

Inspired by a series of true events the short film 'Certain Chapters' unveils the truth as it is, recreating the unforgiving and wanton world of gangsters in Singapore. The story revolves Jegan (Abbas Akbar), who suffers from an identity crisis, unconsciously wanting an image in the eyes of others. He acts upon the words of his mentor and gang leader ‘Hougang’ Veera (Elias Mikhail) who imports radical ideologies into him. Jegan’s ways lead him to destruction when he causes an innocent man’s death and bashes up a young school boy. 'Certain Chapters' aims to re-create the wanton world of Indian gangsters in Singapore and show the truth as it is.Director’s Bio:
Abbas Akbar started out as camera crew for local Tamil – language TV productions soon after completing his National Service. Abbas learnt and honed most his skills “on the sets” or as he puts it “School of Hard Knocks”. Abbas remains busy with directing a mix genre of programmes (current affairs, variety, commercials, etc.) for mainstream media. Certain Chapters marks his first attempt at casting and directing himself in front of the camera.
Jeremy (J): Why are you so fascinated with gangsters and triads?
Abbas (A): I would say more than fascination the theme was an inspiration...‘Boys’ / Masculine theme. The general view of Indian gangsters has always been vague. I wanted to present their the real Indian gangster scene as ‘ raw’ as it is. With the language and all.J: It is mentioned this is based on a real life story, can you elaborate a bit more on the story?
A: It is a combination of multiple real-life incidents that I have come across.
The story of Jegan and the young boy at the end are common stories of how boys land up on the wrong path. The 'mad man' character was based on a character I have come across in a kopitiam in my neighbourhood, 'Hougang'.

J: I hear more about Chinese triads in Singapore. So could you enlighten us on the Indian gangster scene (haha)?
A: I think in Singapore they very much operate the same way as the Chinese Triads. Look at number one too. haha.

J: Why does the film have to be ADR-ed or rather dubbed? Weren they already speaking in Tamil?
A: The quality is just better, all professional films use ADR. Let's a short film have better quality.

J: How did you deal with cast that is supposedly 90% first-timers?
A: Just made sure we did lots of rehersals b4 the takes. Some of them were in gangs b4 so they were merely reacting. I also, took them thro' Method Acting. And most of them were passionate about the cause and to deter youths the path of gangsterism or that certainly helped.
J: What were some of the biggest challenges in making this film?
A: I would say funds , screening venues and marketing of the film. We have some very good filmmakers here. I believe the number 1 issue is always finding the funds. I have been lucky to have found a good Executive Producer in Raj Maiden who was also very ‘hands offs’ and let me make most of the creative decisions. Since the film was rated R21 many venues could not screen it. It was fortunate that the film got a few screening as part of Sinema Old School's Sinema Showoff, Experimental Cuts II Programme.
(pause)As filmmakers we often lack the marketing expertise. So after being shown in Sinema we just left the film as it is for month before a team from Singapore Polytechnic working with film festivals came forward to help us put the film on the circuit. Since then, Media Development Authority (MDA) has also funded the film for participation in selected festivals and programmes through its INSPIRE programme.

J: While we don't hear of many Tamil independent films around, are there more coming that we can expect to see? Do you have a community like the Singapore Malay Filmmakers Society?
A: To my knowledge I know TT Dhavamani Feature, 24 hours of anger is coming up.

Trivia on 'Certain Chapters':
• 90% of cast were first-time actors.
• First local Tamil-language (R21) production. Rating due to explicit use of coarse language.
• First local Tamil - language film to have been dubbed in Singapore.

Relevant Links:

Certain Chapters on Facebook

Certain Chapters on You Tube

Director Abbas Akbar’s Portfolio for Viewing on Behance Network:
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