Spilt Gravy / Ke Mana Tumpahnya Kuah…
The film’s story takes place over the course of one day, the 8th of June 2011. Bapak senses that he does not have much time left and so he invites his offspring to have dinner with him the next evening to discuss some family matters concerning their inheritance, a large part of which is his home, a large sprawling house set in an acre of prime real estate located in the centre of Kuala Lumpur. An unexpected visit by two strangers leads Bapak to change his plans and bring the dinner forward to that evening instead.
THE THEATRE PRODUCTION / PLAY
Beginning as a series of comedy skits involving a group of siblings, Skittish was a work-in-progress by Jit Murad that eventually grew into Spilt Gravy On Rice. Production publicist Lorna Tee had suggested naming the play after a Malay proverb like Jit Murad’s acclaimed Gold Rain & Hailstones which was staged in 1993.
More information about the origins of Spilt Gravy On Rice can be found in Jit Murad Plays, an anthology of Jit’s works published by Matahari Books. The book is currently out of print but limited copies are still available from firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first stage production of Spilt Gravy On Rice took place from 8-25 August 2002 at The Actors’ Studio, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Kuala Lumpur. Directed by Zahim Albakri, the play starred Rahim Razali (Bapak), Bernice Chauly (Kalsom), Charon Mokhzani (Zak), Reza Zainal Abidin (Darwis), Sean Ghazi (Husni) and Soefira Jaafar (Zaitun).
Spilt Gravy On Rice turned out to be another massive success for playwright Jit Murad and theatre company Dramalab. It would soon attract attention from the Singapore Repertory Theatre, fans of Dramalab’s works since Gold Rain & Hailstones took audiences in Singapore by storm three years prior…
After its successful run in Kuala Lumpur, Spilt Gravy On Rice travelled across the causeway where it played to packed houses at DBS Arts Centre from 25 February – 2 March 2003. Production was once again helmed by Dramalab, directed by Zahim Albakri, and starred Rahim Razali (Bapak), Bernice Chauly (Kalsom), Charon Mokhzani (Zak), Reza Zainal Abidin (Darwis), Sean Ghazi (Husni) and Soefira Jaafar (Zaitun).
Spilt Gravy On Rice marked Dramalab’s third staging in Singapore after Gold Rain & Hailstones in 1999 and A Flight Delayed in 2000. Writing about the Singapore staging, The Flying Inkpot awarded Spilt Gravy On Rice four stars out of a possible five and heaped praise upon Jit Murad‘s writing. Reviewer Kenneth Wong ended his review by noting “the next time [Dramalab] make the trip across the causeway, I strongly recommend you give their taste of homebrew a try”.
At the 1st Cameronian Arts Awards held on 28 February 2003, Spilt Gravy On Rice emerged as the biggest winners of the night by scoring four awards. Best Director went to Zahim Albakri, Best Original Script went to Jit Murad, Best Lighting Design went to Mac Chan, and the production earned the Kakiseni Audience Choice Award for Best Play.
The Cameronian Arts Awards was initiated to recognise excellence on the stage. It has continued to award the best of the Malaysian live performance industry annually, and is today known as the BOH Cameronian Arts Awards.
Spilt Gravy On Rice returned to Kuala Lumpur due to its rising popularity. Upon winning four major awards at the 1st BOH Cameronian Arts Awards in 2003, the play became the talk of town and was brought back to The Actors’ Studio, Bangsar Shopping Centre for its second Malaysian run.
The restaging would see director Zahim Albakri take over from Charon Mokhzani in the role of Zak, while the rest of the cast remained the same.
After three successful stage runs of ‘Spilt Gravy On Rice’, Zahim Albakri had an idea: to adapt the play into a feature film.
In 2010, the Albakris had decided to sell their family home. Designed by Zahim’s father, the late architect Dato’ Haji Ikmal Hisham Albakri, their home was situated in the middle of Kuala Lumpur. Knowing that it would inevitably be lost to development, the Albakris wanted to find a preserve a part of their father’s architectural legacy and their love for the home they grew up in. This prompted Zahim to consider the home as a backdrop to the film adaptation of Spilt Gravy on Rice.
Zahim then enlisted writer and researcher June Tan as a screenwriter to begin adapting Spilt Gravy on Rice. Together with playwright Jit Murad, the trio began turning the beloved stage script into a screenplay.
When the Albakri family sold their family home in January 2011, they requested for 6 months to vacate the premises but also to shoot the film adaptation of Spilt Gravy On Rice there. With Zahim’s brother Zarul Albakri as Executive Producer, Raja Malek as production designer, and Y. H. Cheong as Director of Photography, the filmmaking team quickly worked out how they would complete the film shoot within that period.
The shoot would eventually commence on 7 June 2011 and last for a total of 52 days, wrapping just days before they had to vacate the premises.
The Malaysian Censorship Board (LPF) rejects Spilt Gravy On Rice for cinematic release. The primary reason for this was that the LPF believed that the film touches on religious sensitivities, and risks “creating confusion” among viewers.
The censors also had issues with the film’s exploration of social issues and topics that could be interpreted as taboo. And so LPF slapped the film with a Not Suitable For Public Viewing (TUT) rating and suggested several cuts and changes so the film could be re-evaluated for public release.
The Malaysian Censorship Board (LPF) again rejects Spilt Gravy On Rice for cinematic release, on the grounds that it still touches on religious sensitivities and could create “confusion” among viewers.
Executive producer Zarul Albakri wanted the film to remain intact and had resubmitted it for evaluation, hoping for the LPF to have a change of heart over the years. However this was not the case, and the film was once again slapped with a TUT rating, preventing it from being seen by the public.
The world premiere of Spilt Gravy On Rice took place in Colombo, Sri Lanka, as part of the 2015 International Film Festival of Colombo. The film screened as part of the main competition section of the festival on 9 November 2015.
It would be take almost 5 years after its world premiere for the film to be deemed suitable for Malaysian audiences. Spilt Gravy On Rice was greenlit by the Malaysian Censorship Board (LPF) for public viewing in March 2020.
The third official submission of Spilt Gravy On Rice received a PG-13 rating from the Malaysian Censorship Board (LPF) in 2020, finally ending its long wait from completion to cinematic release. However the approved version slightly differs from the original director’s cut: the use of profane language has been muted, a vulgar hand gesture has been blurred, several shots have been changed, and it has an alternative ending.
Before plans for a release date could be set, the COVID-19 pandemic would take over the film industry by storm, shutting down cinemas nationwide for at least the next two years.
The long-awaited black comedy Spilt Gravy / Ke Mana Tumpahnya Kuah… is finally scheduled for a cinematic release on 9 June 2022. Initially deemed Not Suitable for Public Viewing (TUT) by the Malaysian Censorship Board (LPF), its filmmakers revised the film several times, finally gaining approval in March 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic however took over from 2020-2021, further delaying the film by another 2 years.
The film will be previewed to members of the Malaysian media at 10:00am in Dadi Cinema, Pavilion Bukit Bintang on 24 May 2022. Arts, culture and heritage writers are welcome to join the press premiere by contacting email@example.com.
The theme song for Spilt Gravy / Ke Mana Tumpahnya Kuah… is out now on Youtube. Performed by Sean Ghazi and Liza Hanim, “Dibuai Mimpi” was written and composed by Sean with Izlyn Ramli, who also wrote the lyrics of the song. Sean also arranged and produced the track with Martin Zarzar at The Broken Bongo in Portland, Oregon.
“Sentiment-wise, Spilt Gravy centers around family and time passing and we were heavily influenced by a musical theatre song from Fiddler On The Roof, “Sunrise, Sunset” and the bittersweet fact that children can grow up in the blink of an eye,” Sean explains.
“Note the difference in the final chorus, when ‘kau’ shifts to ‘ku’… a bittersweet ending,” notes Izlyn.
Read more about the song from the crib sheet in the Press section of the website.
On 7 June 2022, the Spilt Gravy / Ke Mana Tumpahnya Kuah… Charity Gala Premiere in aid of Badan Warisan Malaysia took place at Dadi Cinema, Pavilion Bukit Bintang. The guest of honour for the night was Yang Teramat Mulia Raja Dato’ Seri Eleena binti Almarhum Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah Al-Maghfurlah, whose candid speech reminisce about the times she spent with Jit Murad as well as the Albakri family.
Director and cast member Dato’ Zahim Albakri gave a speech acknowledging his gratitude to the guests present during the evening, while Badan Warisan Malaysia’s 2022 Council President Lim Wei Ling thanked donors for purchasing tickets to the event, as all proceeds went to Badan Warisan Malaysia.
Also in attendance were cast members Dato’ Rahim Razali, Sean Ghazi, Juliana Ibrahim, Bernie Chan, Carliff Carleel, Harith Iskander, Sabrina Hassan, Badrika Baluch Bahadur, Badrish Isnin Bahadur, Amir Johan Nadim, and Mika Aaron Jenewein.
'... Spilt Gravy is the movie we need to embrace because it shows us who we are at the core. And it asks whether we are ready to become something more.'
- Critics Republic (2022)
'...possibly the best Malaysian movie of the year – if not in this century.'
- The Vibes (2022)
'...it will surely be remembered as one of Malaysia’s most important films.'
- ArtsEquator (2022)