This Is Not Shashi Tharan's Journey But...

17 years of being in the industry, he is still waiting for the right time to direct a feature film. The constant havoc in the industry, backstabbers,
misunderstandings, lot's of "hu ha", fights, comparison on who is the best, makes Shashi take a step back & test the water before plunging in. Not forgetting, that the collections for local movies are not impressive due to the stiff competition with the South Indian movies.

"With what confidence will a producer invest in local movie making? Ultimately it’s all about the dollars and cents….satisfaction aside," said Shashi Tharan.

This is not Shashi Tharan's journey but it is Shashi Tharan's rant on his personal experience in the entertainment industry.


I started off as a backup dancer in the entertainment industry while focusing on obtaining a degree academic wise. From that moment I always yearned for something bigger.

I finally got myself a spot on the stage as I had the ability to sing. I started my journey by singing but soon realized it was not my ‘cup of tea’.

I started looking out into other areas of the industry and was offered acting opportunities. It was then I realized that acting is my passion and decided to pursue this line. My acting career started off with small roles in dramas and expanded to lead roles in dramas/telemovies.

I completed Business Computing at Binary Business School. Though I was into acting I wanted a certified cert so I will have something to fall back on. I was already in a stable position as a senior manager with a good pay when I chose to be a full-time actor to pursue my passion.

I took the risk and together with my wife's support and motivation I decided to enter the entertainment field as a full-timer.

My first feature film was “ Manjari”.  The turning point in my acting career was “Aathma”.   Being in “Aathma” gave me lots of insights in the industry.

In order to make your mark in the entertainment industry, being humble, being disciplined with a good attitude is as important as being talented. This is the mantra that I practice even to this day.

My next venture was the Malay movie industry. I did “Estet” under the direction of the esteemed Mamat Khalid. Wow!.. what an experience that was. My role in Estet fetched me the ‘ Pelakon Harapan’ award from Film Festival Malaysia. It was a proud moment.

Since I was involved in both Malay industry and Malaysian Tamil industry, I was able to compare how both these industries work. It was good to see how the artists are being treated in the Malay industry regardless of experience or popularity….something that our Tamil industry can adopt.

I also figured out that there were too many rules and regulations on the censor board which keeps the creativity of one under limits. There is limited freedom in filmmaking in Malaysia.

It was a challenge to penetrate the Malay industry even with the award & recognition received for my work in a couple of Malay dramas & teleserials. Playing a lead role in a Malay feature film is yet to come my way as it is very rare a script demands a non-Malay hero. But I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

Also, the mindset of certain people out there who assume that once we get an award we will be very demanding and pricey. This mindset in many has caused me to get fewer opportunities and totally demotivated me.  That's when I started to venture into my own business.

I started off a restaurant, unfortunately, due to lack of experience, it didn't work well. It took me some time to come back on track with the support of my family.

Our industry is small.  Actors make a decent living but earn loads of fame. One has to be grounded so that the fame does not get to their head. I also came to a realisation that as an actor, your golden era ends at some point.

I decided to carve a new path and ventured into direction while continuing my acting.

To compete in a crowded market, lots of backstabbers will be there, lot's of misunderstandings will occur, lot's of "hu ha", fights, comparison on who is the best and it is totally disheartening.

My desire was to make others look good on the screen, I wanted to share what I have learnt in this field, I wanted to do for them what was not given to me, I wanted to give them the freedom to express themselves.

My first telemovie was for Astro, "Unarvu" and that created a big hype. Unexpectedly, I received huge amounts of feedback from a lot of people and well-wishers. Many commented that “Unarvu” touched their soul and thanked me for tweaking their inner feelings. I have to thank the superb team which I had for Unarvu.

All that feedback boosted my confidence as directing is not easy. I only started directing after 17 years of being in the industry. It took me that long to gain the courage to direct. There is still a long way to go.

I didn't study for direction. I learnt from my experience and by observing some of my directors. Many times they allowed me to sit beside them and learn.

My second direction was a Malay movie for RTM titled "Dari Rumah Panjang ke Perth" a Sarawak based movie and the very recent one was a web film for Deepavali titled  “ Light up someone's life”  based on Thomas Edison's true story.

I deliberately released it during Deepavali as Deepavali is a celebration. It is always about dancing, shows and entertainment. Not many create awareness on screen and I wanted to do something new.

I feel in Malaysia anyone can be an artist and anybody can make a movie cause the platform is such. The problem  arises when someone enters the field without much experience and the quality of the output is compromised

They don't understand that if they don't do well the consequence is not only for them but it affects the entire industry because this is a small industry.

Also, if everybody wants to be a director then who is going to be an actor? Rather than having these people to be all scattered around, it would be better if all the prominent talents merge and produce one quality product.

I personally feel the competition that we are having right now in this small industry is unnecessary. . You know the saying…’ Too many cooks spoil the soup’  It's tough to compete in a crowded market as you will drown one day.

Why can't 3 directors bring a producer each, form a team and direct a movie? Instead of 1 director working with 1 producer and he directs the movie all alone.

By merging it will be a healthy competition. We would be able to come up with a better quality product. Take for example, in the month of November 2017 itself, 3 Malaysian movies got released.

Let's be practical, for one person itself, they have to spend about RM20.00 including the ticket and popcorn. For a family of 5, they have to spend RM 100.00. So most people will only choose to watch one movie a month with the family at the most.

If one of the Malaysian movies has a terrible storyline and is done very badly technical wise public will judge the upcoming releases based on that one movie and it will completely ruin our chance of selling a good movie.

To ensure the quality of each and every movie which is being produced in Malaysia we have to first learn the rules and regulations of movie making in Malaysia.

Study the ins and outs of how to sell a movie to the public. How can a guy sell RM1.00 worth pen for RM10.00? With his talking skills. We need more skills to persuade the public to watch our movie.

Until now I am still going for casting in Malay industry. It is a taboo and an embarrassment to some of our industry people. They got the process of casting wrong with an audition.

Audition is where you test if a person can act and casting is where you test if a person is suitable for the role being offered.

If we compare with our neighbour we can distinctively see a major difference in the quality of a product which is produced by them and produced by us.

We need to study on how Singapore can come up with a better product and we should start to implement it here. Our population is higher compared to them yet we are not up to par with them in some ways.

Till now I have not directed a feature film. I have directed for TV only. I have not done for cinema. I don’t want to rush into it, looking at all the havoc which is going around me.

The collections for local movies are not impressive due to the stiff competition with  South Indian movies. With what confidence will a producer invest in local movie making?  Ultimately it’s all about the dollar & cents, satisfaction aside.

As someone from the entertainment industry, I believe we shouldn't ask others to come and support our product. We have to sell our product to the Malaysian audience.

This is a money-making business. We are selling our movie. We are selling the tickets. People should not come and watch our movie just to support us. We have to make them come and watch our movie because they WANT to. This is where marketing comes in.

With no proper marketing, even a movie with excellent story, cast & direction will find it tough to survive. If we only got money to make a movie and got no budget to do marketing and promo, it is better not to release a movie first.

We need a good marketing strategy. We need to allocate a certain amount of money for marketing itself which I have seen many failed to do.

We have to make the Malaysian audience say that we have done a great job. We have to educate them about the rules and regulations that we as movie makers have to follow.

We have to show them the restrictions that are being imposed on us as movie makers. There are lots of do’s and don’ts that we have to follow in order to deliver our craft. They need to know that movie makers have to remove a lot of scenes when it goes to the censor board.

 They need to know that for the local movie industry to thrive, our movies need to be screened for a long time. They need to know that the first 3 days of movie release is very crucial as the cinema owners decide whether or not to continue screening based on the collections for the first 3 days.

It is wrong to blame the audience when movie collections are not as expected as they are ignorant of the problems we are facing. Share with them and they will be there for us.

Only when we break all the stereotypes that the public has in our movies then we can survive. By far these are a fraction of what I have experienced by being in both Malay and Tamil industry.

I am still studying the market, still studying on how to penetrate the industry, still studying on how to be successful. There is no need for me to reach the sky.

I just want to make the producer & audience happy and be satisfied with my work….then I am good to go.

~ Shashi Tharan ~

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