Spilt Gravy

ArtsEquator: Where Flows Blessings But To The Heart

(Article written by Daniyal Kadir, first published in ArtsEquator on 14 June 2022.)

In an obituary written at the passing of Malaysian playwright and actor, Jit Murad in February 2022, theater activist, Fasyali Fadzli gave an insight into the value of Jit Murad’s artistry. Fasyali noted that Jit’s genius as an artist lay in his ability and intelligence to use comedy to expose the hypocrisy and social flaws of urban society. Notably, Fasyali felt that Jit had the  daring to explore a diversity of taboo questions specifically in relation to the Malay community in Malaysia.

The point about the power of Jit’s humor proves accurate, and is visible in abundance in the long-awaited film adaption, Spilled Gravy / Ke Mana Tumpahnya Kuah … directed by Zahim Albakri. The film underwent a long journey before finally finding an audience in cinemas starting June 9, 2022. The original play was first staged at the Actors Studio, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur in August 2002. During the inaugural Boh Cameronian Arts Awards in 2003, it won four awards, namely, Best Original Script, Best Director, Best Light Design and Audience Choice Award.

Aside from showcasing Jit’s talent, this film is also a reminder of the effect of film censorship. Spilled Gravy was completed around 2012 and in the same year, the producers submitted an application to the Malaysian Film Censorship Board (Lembaga Penapisan Film, LPF). However, the film was deemed not suitable for widespread screening. The producers did not give up, but resubmitted various versions for evaluation by the LPF. In March 2020, the film was finally approved and received a PG-13 classification. Now, with cinemas in the country finally open fully as the country enters the endemic phase of Covid 19, the public finally has the opportunity to enjoy Spilled Gravy.

According to the producers, the differences between the latest and original versions are very few and it involves, among other things, removed curse words, as well as an alternative ending. But the 10-year wait is nonetheless a long one, and the circumstances surrounding Spilt Gravy can be seen as a classic story of film censorship problems in Malaysia.

Spilled Gravy gives us the opportunity to see the turmoil of middle-class Malay life in Kuala Lumpur, which is highlighted through a dysfunctional family, led by Bapak and his 5 children. Jit, together with Zahim and June Tan managed to adapt Jit’s original playscript carefully and smoothly. Zahim’s directorial command can be observed through the way he provides balance in every character that emerges. It’s not an easy job to attain acting coherence in a film that involves many characters from different background. Zahim manages this smoothly, giving the audience the opportunity to deepen our understanding, and get into each character. 

Read the rest of the article on ArtsEquator.

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