21-y/o M’sian Director Wins Silver At Tokyo Film Awards for Documentary on Bharatanatyam Dance Teacher

Wanted | Shades Of Life

While we like to indulge in popular documentaries about larger-than-life characters on Netflix such as the booming Tiger King and the riveting Don’t F*ck With Cats, it feels like a breath of fresh air when we take a short hiatus to learn more about the people in our own country.

JUICE is no stranger to moving stories about Malaysians, especially after we interviewed the filmmakers behind the beautiful documentary, Tiptoe that chronicles the life of a plus-sized Sabahan dancer overcoming adversity in the dance industry.

Similar in that vein, recently, 21-year-old Malaysian filmmaker, Sanadtkumar Ganesan has been awarded Silver for Best Feature Documentary at the Tokyo Film Awards for his film on Bharatanatyam dance teacher, Agnesmary Selvaraj.

According to the director, “Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that anything that I ever produced would be recognised, let alone on a global stage.

“I was just a kid who loved movies. These are things that a kid like me can only dream of, but a lot of good-hearted people were patient with me and guided me to see that dreams can become a reality.”

The documentary is bare bones in terms of budget and resources but it packs a visceral impact as we learn Agnesmary’s life story and passion behind the art form of Bharatanatyam, which is a classical Indian dance.

From being a wide-eyed little girl who admired the dance through her idols on television to becoming a woman who inspired courage in other young girls like her to get up on stage and perform, Agnesmary’s passion and joy for her craft is palpable through the screen.

Sanadtkumar is naturally ecstatic from the win but it isn’t his first award for Wanted: Shades of Life Episode 2. It was a semi-finalist in Stockholm City Film Festival as well as featured on Bernama News Channel and The Sun Daily.

“I am still in awe and so overwhelmed that this film that had close to no budget, limited time and very limited resources to make, was recognised by many different countries. If young filmmakers like me had more support, funds, and resources, I am very sure we can cultivate great talents right here in Malaysia,” he said.

With more news of young Malaysians achieving greatness across the pond, hopefully more resources will be allocated towards nurturing their growth in conjunction with improving our local film industry.

Congratulations, Sanadtkumar Ganesan! Watch the full documentary below: