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Devayani & Patmavadi Nair, owners of Chanai & Chaya Cafe at TTDI Market

I am ‘Born In Malaysia’

Digi video - Born In Malaysia

Born In Malaysia on YouTube

In December 2014, Digi decided to make a video about Malaysians with inspirational stories. The Born In Malaysia project was selected. The result was a video that I would have been proud to have created myself. Digi’s advertising agency, Naga DDB and the production house, Reservoir World Sdn Bhd were instrumental in bringing the Born In Malaysia project to life on the internet and to encourage those who have seen the video to start believing in how celebrating our diversity is the only way forward.

Production for the video including voiceover and recce took more than a week. Although it was not my first time in front of the camera, I particularly enjoyed this experience as I was working with a team of people from the agency and production house who were believers in the message of the book.

Here are some photographs of what took place during the shoot. I was also immensely proud of how my father was also featured in the video. After all, he is the one who through his love of photography got me interested in the medium in the first place. He never expected me to choose it as a profession but here we are.

We had a lot of fun visiting my subjects and I have included their pages from the book. While my dad and I waited at Koon Kee wanton noodle shop as the production crew set-up the shot, my dad informed me that Jalan Hang Lekir used to be called Cecil Lane. I think that it is important to retain the old names for streets. Not because we are pro-colonialism but rather that people’s memories of a particular area are usually attached to the street names. For this reason, all the streets named in book are stated in both new and old names.

While we waited for the production crew, my dad recounted stories of how he met my mum and what Kuala Lumpur used to be. His comment about how crime was not so rampant then really struck a chord with me. These days, everyone seems to be in it whether it’s corruption, robbery, racism, bigotry, religious extremism.. it seems we have lost our direction. Politicians use whatever means they have to maintain their influence at the detriment of the harmony of our country.

However, I am hopeful that all is not lost. Whenever I feel stressed about the current situation in our country, I am drawn to memories of the people I have photographed for my book. I then realise that Malaysia will remain multi-cultural because it is in our DNA. The majority of the population of our country believes in a multi-cultural Malaysia where not one race dominates another. We will leave the ugly stuff to the politicians and their narrow minded followers but the population while affected by the actions of a privileged few, will continue to strive for a better Malaysia.

I am ‘Born In Malaysia’.

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