“Jagat is my revenge to the system.” – Shanjhey Kumar Perumal, Director and writer of Jagat.
The term “Jagat” is a Tamil slang for the Malay word “jahat”, which means bad or evil. The film is set in the early 1990s, this critical period in Malaysia Indian history plays great role in the story as it captures the hardships the Indian minority have gone through in order to survive a rural life after being forced out from their estate plantations caused by the decrease in Malaysia’s rubber production.
Directed and written by Shanjhey Kumar Perumal, Jagat is a Tamil-language film of Malaysian production unravelling the story of Appoy (Harvind Raj), a bright yet mischievous 12 years old boy with a complicated relationship with his father Maniam (Kuhan Mahadevan). Maniam’s only hope is nothing more than to see Appoy excel in school – hence, he is constantly infuriated by son’s tendencies for creative learning of drawing and crafts, leads to the father beating him.
The reason for Maniam’s unethical behaviour is as he firmly believes that education is the only way he could depend on in order to prevent his son from falling down the dark path like his own brother – the reclusive former drug addict uncle Bala and the jobless gangster uncle Mexico.
Appoy is a creative young boy who is keen in drawing and crafts rather than memorization tasks in school, but the school allows no place for him. Trapped under pressure of his father’s expectation, ridiculously rigid schooling system and the bad influence of his criminal uncle, the only person to in which he can seek acceptance and knowledge is Bala, to share his wisdom with him despite being succumbed to drugs addiction until he dies due to intoxication.
Even though gangsterism element is clearly expected in the movie, Jagat is not the kind of film filled with gunshots or car chases action. Instead, viewers who are easily triggered by graphics violence are able to let out sigh of relief as most of the violence are not as visually visible. Viewer will see blood washed off of machetes or hear punches sounds but without the clear close up on the traumatizing scenes.
The most disturbing part of the film would be the scene when Maniam disciplines Appoy in which some might deem it too harsh as he is still a child. Although the plot unravels at such slow pace – to the point it might be dragging the attention away off of the audiences, each and every scene are set up in a detailed manner making it very memorable and engaging.
It is clear that Jagat is evidently a low-budget production but what seems to be a flaw turns out to be the hidden gem in making the story more realistic – highlighting the poorness and the protagonist’s struggling condition. Despite all the flaws, Jagat is one well-structured thought-provoking film as the story got everyone wondering “Who is really ‘Jagat’? The people or the system?”.
Film review by @nisabean
(retrieved from Rabak-Lit’s Twitter, revised)