3 Back Street Tales Of Little India

The colourful history of the Indian community in Singapore is marked by the events and personalities that have shaped Little India. A series of cultural activities reflect upon its history in the multi-media exhibition, Once Upon A Time In Little India. By S. Sakthivel

While it is easy to forget the similarities between the immigrants of yesteryears, who later became pillars of society and commerce, and the thousands who continue to flock to our shores in search of a new opportunity and a new life, filmmaker K Rajagopal sees little that is different in the intent.

Director K Rajagopal explaining his film The Day I Lost My Shadow

“They have all contributed to the life we live now. I want to show that we are not that different, we are all trying our best to make our lives better,” he explains. Rajagopal’s short film, Campbell Lane, aims to show the similarities between a migrant worker in a shop in Little India and the early life of celebrated philanthropist and businessman P. Govindasamy Pillai.

Rajagopal also hopes to highlight the difference in fortunes and opportunities available to immigrants today. From humble beginnings, Pillai went on become a business magnate and a pillar of the local Indian community. But, Pandian, the worker featured in the film will probably not be afforded such opportunities.

Campbell Lane is part of a trilogy of short films. Each uses a street in Little India as a backdrop for stories significant to the history of the area.

Entitled The Day I Lost My Shadow, the films will debut on 3 November at the nearby Rex Cinema.

The screening of The Day I Lost My Shadow (Campbell Lane)

The Golden Saga Of Seeds
Once Upon A Time In Little India will also feature two more commissioned works. Local artist Kumari Nahappan’s The Weighing Scale pays homage to the once booming goldsmith trade in the area. The installation uses two tons of red saga seeds, which were traditionally used by goldsmiths to weigh gold — three and a half seeds is equal to 1 gramme.

Kumari Nahappan working on her installation The Weighing Scale

Thai-Indian artist Navin Rawanchaikul’s expansive 14-metre collage, Passage To Little India, juxtaposes more than 250 people and places that have been significant to Little India through its 200-year history.

Artist Navin Rawanchaikul explaining his artwork Passage to Little India

Once Upon A Time In Little India run at the new Indian Heritage Centre until July 2017. There will also be lectures, workshops, art and cultural performances, and guided tours.

Once Upon A Time In Little India
22 Oct 2016 – 21 Jul 2017
Indian Heritage Centre
5 Campbell Lane
Singapore 209924


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