The Star: “Film adaptation of Jit Murad’s play ‘Spilt Gravy On Rice’ gets a cinema release in June”
(Article written by Dinesh Kumar Maganathan, first published in The Star on 23 April 2022.)
The film adaptation of late Malaysian playwright Jit Murad’s theatre play Spilt Gravy On Rice will finally open in cinemas on June 9, nearly a decade after it was delayed by the Film Censorship Board (LPF).
Now renamed Spilt Gravy Ke Mana Tumpahnya Kuah, the long-awaited film’s release is a fitting tribute to Jit, who died of cardiac arrest on Feb 12 this year. He was 62.
“I have bittersweet feelings about the film’s release, especially since Jit’s passing. The film is different from the play and some significant changes were made in the screen adaptation but the characters are his and so is most of the dialogue.
“He did in fact write a couple of new scenes for the film and one is particularly poignant in light of his recent passing,” shares Datuk Zahim Albakri, Split Gravy’s film director, who is also a veteran in the theatre scene.
In 1989, the Instant Cafe Theatre company was co-founded by theatre friends Jit, Zahim, Jo Kukathas, and Andrew Leci. It was a local theatre company which went on to challenge and redefine theatremaking in Malaysia.
On to the big screen
The 112-minute film Spilt Gravy will play for a limited run at Golden Screen Cinemas, TGV Cinemas and Dadi Cinema.
Spilt Gravy is based on Jit’s 2002 theatre play which won four awards at the inaugural Cameronian Arts Award 2002 in KL, including best director and best original script.
‘Spilt Gravy Ke Mana Tumpahnya Kuah’ is a film adaptation of Jit Murad’s award-winning play. Director Zahim (seated, middle) is seen with the cast at this film shoot, with the late Jit (standing, left) looking on. Photo: Handout
The film’s screenplay was written by Zahim, Jit and June Tan, a producer at Five Arts Centre.
Zahim shares that the film was first officially submitted to the LPF in either 2012 or 2013. The LPF panel then classified the film as “Tidak Lulus Untuk Tayangan” (not approved for screening) due to certain sensitive scenes.
“They were positive about the film and wanted it to be passed but due to a number of issues which touched on religious matters, they could not pass the film for cinema viewing,” recounts Zahim.
Over the last 10 years, the film has been submitted three times officially and numerous times unofficially for a reappraisal. The original film was renamed (a film cannot be submitted officially twice under the same title) and resubmitted at the end of 2019 after being re-edited with some dialogue muted, one major plot change, and one hand gesture blurred.
On March 16, 2020, it was reclassified as Lulus Dengan Perubahan and given a PG13 rating. However, due to the pandemic, the film’s release was once again delayed.
“The process of getting the film passed by LPF was long and frustrating at times but I cannot, in all honesty, put all the blame on the censorship process. The film was produced by my brother and myself and there were definitely mistakes we made during the process that added to the delay,” says Zahim.
Spilt Gravy cast includes veteran actor/director Datuk Rahim Razali, actor Juliana Ibrahim, writer/poet/actor Bernice Chauly, actor/singer Sean Ghazi, actor/writer Na’a Murad, comedian Harith Iskander and Zahim himself.
The story revolves around Bapak (Rahim), a retired journalist and patriarch who realises he only has a limited amount of time left to live. He invites his five children (from five different women) to dinner so that they can talk about some unresolved family matters, including who will inherit the family home.
Zahim, a co-founder of Dramalab, also directed the stage play Spilt Gravy in 2003 at Singapore’s DBS Arts Centre. Bernice, Sean, and Rahim were also involved in this production.
The film also features theatre/and film actors in supporting roles, including Jit Murad, Nanu Baharudin, Ida Nerina, Melissa Saila, Sabrina Hassan, Diana Danielle, Junji Delfino, Joelah Charles, Carliff Carleel, Bernie Chan, Doppo, Dara Raziana Othman, Nam Ron, Amerul Affendi, Imri Nasution, Nuramerra Aqma, Elaine Pedley Lee Swee Keong and Hairi Safwan.
Zahim believes that, despite the fact that the play premiered in 2002, Jit’s family drama is still relevant today.
“I want Malaysians to see it more than anyone else because it is about us, it is about a family, a rather unusual family. A rather unusual Keluarga Malaysia if you like. Probably not the way the government sees Keluarga Malaysia but a Malaysian family all the same,” concludes Zahim.