Local Indian director helms Mandarin flick, clarifies release details

Local Indian director helms Mandarin flick, clarifies release details
Ris Low in a scene from slasher flick Justice Devil.

SINGAPORE - He does not understand or speak a word of Mandarin, but the dialogue in his debut full-length film is entirely in Mandarin.

Indian-Singaporean filmmaker Harva, 27, who is Justice Devil's writer and director, said he completed the feat by "holding intensive rehearsals and allowing the cast members to give their own input".

"I wrote my script in English and prior to the shoot, we did rehearsals for two weeks, where I got an ex-schoolmate of mine to be my translator," he said.

"I allowed the actors to tweak their lines a little to suit their voice and personality. When we started shooting proper, I didn't use a translator on set."

Harva graduated from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts with a diploma in design and media, specialising in video production.

His only works before Justice Devil were a handful of short films, including 2011's Dream Home, which screened at the Singapore Short Film Awards in 2011.

Justice Devil was made on a budget of $500,000 and funded by a group of private investors. It did not receive any government grant.

Leading lady

He had the intention of casting Ris Low as his leading lady even before he penned the script.

Once Low's participation was confirmed, he "changed the script eight times for her".

"I can see several parallels in Ris' life and her character Ellen's," he said.

"The daughter Ellen lost is a symbol of the beauty pageant crown Ris lost, while the bad guys Ellen tortures symbolises Ris fighting back with her critics."

As a first-time feature director, Harva acknowledged that it has been a "learning process" for him, especially when it comes to doing film distribution in Singapore. He acknowledged that he had jumped the gun in a previous interview with TNP and "made a mistake".

"The rating is not NC16, but 'to be advised', as we are now being advised by the Media Development Authority to re-cut certain portions of the film and submit it for classification," he said in a statement.

"Also, a short delay is expected for Justice Devil's release. We are in the midst of getting a simultaneous wide distribution release for the film in Malaysia and Singapore. Shaw cinemas are not involved in this deal. The producers and I regret and apologise for the error. Please refer to our official website www.justicedevil.com for updates."

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