Home / Entertainment / Krishen Jit Fund 2021 doubles arts support, announces 11 beneficiaries


Gogularaajan Rajendran, a filmmaker, has always heard rich stories from his grandparents about estate life in Malaysia in the 1960s. What bothered him was the fact that he had never seen such stories depicted in local films.

“All this while, plantation stories have only been focused on the struggles of the people. But there is more to it than that. I believe we have missed out the life, joys and humour of Malaysian Indian communities who lived in the plantations. I'm curious about the many rich and nuanced stories out there. I’m planning to interview 50 people over the age of 60 from five different estates as part of a documentary film and research project for my upcoming feature film Kaali,” says Gogu, as he is fondly known.

Gogu was one of

Krishen Jit Fund 2021 doubles arts support, announces 11 beneficiaries

Gogularaajan Rajendran, a filmmaker, has always heard rich stories from his grandparents about estate life in Malaysia in the 1960s. What bothered him was the fact that he had never seen such stories depicted in local films.

“All this while, plantation stories have only been focused on the struggles of the people. But there is more to it than that. I believe we have missed out the life, joys and humour of Malaysian Indian communities who lived in the plantations. I’m curious about the many rich and nuanced stories out there. I’m planning to interview 50 people over the age of 60 from five different estates as part of a documentary film and research project for my upcoming feature film Kaali,” says Gogu, as he is fondly known.

Gogu was one of the beneficiaries who received this year’s Krishen Jit Fund at a ceremony held at Reka-Reka in GMBB, Kuala Lumpur on Nov 25. The fund is supported by Astro and Creador Foundation, managed by Five Arts Centre.

An unprecedented 11 grants were awarded to artists and cultural workers to realise their creative projects. This is in recognition of the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, and to the increased contribution by Creador Foundation and Astro.

“The fund will help pay a small sum to each of my interviewees as a token of appreciation. I intend to stay with them for two weeks in order to gather these stories,” says Gogu, who received a RM8,000 grant.

He intends to finish the documentary film Plantation Life: As It Was by the end of 2022 and then enter documentary film circuits in 2023 before beginning work on Kaali.

Sustaining the arts recovery

This year’s Krishen Jit Fund handed out a total of RM86,000. The other recipients included Anthony Chong, Jeffrey Lim, FLUX28 Studio, Izat Arif, Rezza Coebar Abel, Fraulina Tajuddin, Syamsul Azhar, Arief Hamizan, Susan Philip and Komeil Zarin.

They were selected from a list of 77 applicants to continue their projects and research work spanning dance, theatre, film, video, music, training, language and interdisciplinary works.

Despite the pandemic situation and tough times in the arts scene, this year also marked the highest number of recipients in the fund’s history (which has numbered between three and five recipients annually).

“The Krishen Jit Fund is 16 years old. That’s quite remarkable. And this may be quite unusual… for an independent fund to have lasted this long. But this is possible for two things. The support of the funders who believe in the fund and believe this is a good way to support the artists and also the ability and desire of Five Arts to keep working on it. In the climate that we are living in, funds such as these are very important,” says Marion D’Cruz, Five Arts Centre co-founder and manager of Krishen Jit Fund.

“I personally know artists who have been doing odd jobs since the pandemic. This now allows artists to still be able to make work, pay their people a little bit and allow them not to give up,” she adds.

Deaf community leader Dr Anthony Chong received RM10,000 for the Malaysian Sign Language (BMI) literature workshop.

The project, which involves 18 Malaysian deaf participants from KL, Selangor, Johor Baru, Sabah and Sarawak, plans to widen BIM literature’s reach in a variety of forms, including poetry, drama, and folk tales.

“As part of this workshop, we are currently conducting virtual classes for our participants. We’ve brought in deaf facilitators to train them on how to use their facial expressions, emotions, and the BIM to create a deaf poem that will be streamed online in March 2022. This will also be recorded and kept as a resource,” says Chong with the assistance of an interpreter.

Lim, a photography artist and cycling advocate, received RM10,000 for Khemah Kamera, a project to build a mobile canopy tent instant camera and explore live projection possibilities within the tent.

His new initiative combines imagery, projection, and other photographic processes with performative elements.

Izat, a contemporary artist, received RM9,000 for an upcoming hybrid exhibition featuring an immersive installation that explores the potential of reflective materials, spatial parameters and audience participation.

KL-based Iranian artist Komeil received RM4,000 for 30 Portraits In Exile. Thirty refugees and migrants will sit for the artist over the next three months to paint their portraits, culminating in an exhibition, an art book and video documentary project.

The Krishen Jit Fund has given out a total of 68 grants amounting to RM489,000 between 2006 and 2020. The fund was introduced by Astro in 2006 together with Five Arts Centre.

Theatre/performing arts icon and Five Arts Centre co-founder Krishen Jit, who died of a stroke in 2005 aged 65, had a widespread influence on the development of Malaysian theatre for over four decades.

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