STOP10 Sep 2017: 'Lizard on the Wall' by K Rajagopal

This year’s Singapore International Festival of Arts (SIFA) will end on a high and expectant note on the evening of 9 September, Saturday at midnight. Award-winning film director K. Rajagopal will present his finished work Lizard on the Wall at a gala premiere at The Projector that will mark the closing of SIFA and also a farewell for Founding Festival Director Ong Keng Sen and his team, who have been driving the festival over the last four years.

Inspired by Balli Kaur Jaswal’s celebrated novel “Inheritance”, Lizard on the Wall presents the wedding banquet of Amrit held in the family house, beginning with a festive celebration of song and dance. The events of the day then take an unexpected turn when scandalous secrets surface and the guests at the wedding are made to confront the shameful truths of a double life. Chaos ensues and it seems the only person who can stand up for Amrit is her brother, but he is also hiding secrets of his own.

Over three nights in July, the public was offered the opportunity to take part in the filming of the wedding scene. Two months hence, they will once again congregate, in the same costumes they wore at the filming, at the gala premiere. For those who did not take part, you can still come and view the finished product through the purchase of a ticket.

Tickets at $50 each with a 25% SIFA Friend discount and a 20% discount for students, seniors and NSFs. Details on ticketing can be obtained at

In ‘Inheritance’, the novel, Amrit’s forced marriage was eventually called off. But in Lizard on the Wall, the wedding was played out. Rajagopal reimagines the paths of what the lives of these characters could have taken. The other aim of the project was the create an immersive experience for SIFA festival goers, through allowing them to participate in the wedding staged before the camera.

Traveling first from home base 72-13, the trip to Lizard on the Wall began on the bus ride itself-boasting an experienced guide to the slippery literary landscape of Balli Kaur Jaswal's simmering debut. A decently long time passed before the audience and tentative cast were deposited at the mouth of a road that led up to the colonial bungalow that is the entire set of the film.

Sequestered and wardrobed, the audience members got to mingle and learn about the characters that populate the dreamy narrative before immediately plunging into the deep end of acting, playing the contingent to a wedding procession that swarms and swells to the exuberant beat of bhangra music.

What followed was a quick peek through the director's eyes as K. Rajagopal himself came forth to introduce the concepts that litter the film and the clean technicalities of filmmaking, no easy feat for a man known to commit deeply to his artistry.

After this quick breather, the audience was shuttled now to the biggest star of them all-the bungalow where all the intense psychodrama happened, from an introduction to the subtle tensions that run in the filmic family to the baring of all the dirty little secrets hidden in our main characters.

Having gotten to witness all the inner demons coming out to play, the audience was deposited back at the main door of the house, preparing for yet another scene with guests, revelry, and veiled scorns-between the characters that is. Marching to the main tent where more celebration was to take place, everyone got to feel everything and really got under the skins of this world that they have just entered.
As the guests gathered to shed their newfound personas and watch the rest of the filming while waiting for the shuttle bus to pick them up, the programme ended almost as quickly as it happened though still lingering like the hazy impressions of a good, good dream.

Lizard on the Wall is produced by Fran Borgia, who also produced Rajagopal’s A Yellow Bird, Boo Junfeng’s Apprentice and Ho Tzu Nyen’s Here. Hideho, a long-time collaborator of Rajagopal is the cinematographer and James Paige who also worked on A Yellow Bird is the art director.

About K Rajagopal

Few local film-makers have exhibited the same talent for capturing the foibles of human nature onscreen as Rajagopal since he made his debut in 1995. His short films picked up prizes at the Singapore Film Festival from 1995 to 1997, but it was his first full-length feature, A Yellow Bird, which sparked global interest after it was selected for International Critics’ Week at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival.

Written by Alfonse Chiu who attended and participated in the filming of Lizard on the Wall.

For the full list of September 2017's 10 films under STOP10, click here.
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