When RG Naidu mooted the idea for the product and makers of local Indian cinema to be recognised in an award show, he was met with scepticism.
“There were people who questioned my idea. They said the industry is not ready for its own award show,” said RG, who is a strong advocate for the local Indian entertainment scene.
Fortunately, there were those who liked his idea and urged him to make it happen. RG kickstarted his own campaign to rally sponsors and organisational support. His efforts culminated in the launch of the first ever Malaysian Indian Cine Awards (MICA) in Kuala Lumpur, recently.
MICA is set to honour achievements of local Indian cinema through 35 categories like Best Movie, Best Director, Best Actor/Actress, Best Comedian, Best Villain and Best Singer for Male and Female performers.
There is also awards for hosts such as Best Male TV Anchor and Best Female Radio Host. MICA will also give out seven different awards to makers of short films and let fans vote for Most Popular Movie/Actor/Actress.
Aside from the popular awards categories, judges from Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka and India will decide on the main categories. Winners will receive trophies and jewellery from Rafflesia The Pearl Centre.
“Today proves that MICA is no longer a daydream. We have received support from Tourism Malaysia, National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas), Creative Content Guild Malaysia and more,” RG said.
A total of nine local Indian films released in 2015 are up for nominations – action thriller Iravan, zombie movie Vere Vazhi Ille, crime drama Kid, horror flick Agileswari, action-romance Pinnokam, comedy Avana Nee, human trafficking movie Maravan, suspense movie Muthukumar Wanted and autism movie Natchathiran.
Recent Malaysia Film Festival winner for Best Malaysian film Jagat did not qualify as the organisers did not receive a submission from the producers. The nominees will be announced later; the MICA awards night will take place at the end of the year according to RG.
Pansha Nalliah, chief executive officer for the Malaysia Film Producers Association was also present at the launch. He was credited as the pioneer of local Indian cinema when he released Naan Oru Malaysian in 1991. Naan Oru Malaysian is recognised as the first locally-produced Indian movie.
“There were actually others before me. Producer Felix Anthony was making Thun Bangal Urangu Vathillai in the 1970s. But he died before the film could be completed. Another one called Anbe En Anbe did not materialise due to financial troubles. Credit must go to them for wanting to be the first to tell Malaysian Indian stories,” he said.
Pansha is proud of the progress of local Indian cinema today. The success of films like Jagat and Maravan proved that there is audience acceptance. He also said an event like MICA is timely to continue to draw attention to the quality of recent locally-made Indian movies.
Pansha also urged filmmakers to not be discouraged by initial failures and strive towards making movies with local flavour. “Do not try to emulate India and make song-and-dance films. It’s not realistic for the audience here. Make a Malaysian story.”