The Gravel Road

  • 91'
  • Malaysia
  • 2005
This film is a striking work within Malaysian cinema. Alongside Malaysia's native population, the country has two large ethnic groups: the Chinese and the Indians. The latter are almost completely absent from the film scene, because only films spoken in Malay are entitled to any financial support. That did not stop Menon from making the first Tamil-spoken film in Malaysia. The film is set in the 1960s and 1970s on a rubber plantation, an inheritance of the colonial era like the Indians working on the plantation, who were once brought from India by the British. The film focuses on a family who work and live on the plantation. They work hard for a pittance and are dependent on their employer for everything. The protagonist is Shanta, the ambitious daughter of the family. She has resolved to study at university, which is an ambition more or less like going to the moon in her surroundings. A woman, a poor woman, a poor Indian woman. But she continues to fight for the impossible. The power of the film is the authentic, almost neo-realistic sketch of life on the plantation. The director himself grew up on a plantation and so he knew what he wanted to show. It was possible to make the film thanks to the loyalty within the independent Malaysian film world. However Indian the film may look, it is unmistakably an exponent of the present flourishing of Malaysian independents. (GjZ)
Deepak Kumaran Menon
World premiere
Country of production
Festival Edition
IFFR 2005
DV cam PAL
Original title
Chemman chaalai
Tan Chui Mui
Production Company
One Hundred Eye Sdn Bhd
One Hundred Eye Sdn Bhd
Albert Hue
Production Design
Sylvia Ong
Hardesh Singh