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Student-Director scores Oscar
Swinging a huge sack over his shoulder like an old tired Santa Claus, the karang guni (rag and bone) man walks resignedly down the stairs. Memories of his late wife and daughter flash across his mind. Collecting pieces of other people's past is how he holds on to his own ...

This original, sombre plot win 18-year-old 2nd year Mass Communication student, Nisar Husain, the second prize in the Singapore Short Film Festival this year.

Nisar never imagined that he would win. In fact, he was so sure - and so busy - that he did not attend the prize presentation. "... imagine my surprise when I read the newspapers the next day and saw my name there!" he exclaimed.

It was particularly surprising because he had broken all the "rules" of video production by filming his video without prior planning with a storyboard or script. He admitted. "It was totally spontaneous and it turned out better than I expected!"

"In the movie, a father threatens his child,
"If you are naughty,
I will call the
karang guni man."

He gained inspiration for the plot from a karang guni man in his neighbourhood, who collects during the day and transforms into a posh, well-dressed gentleman at night." So things are not always what they seem," he mused.

"Behind every face there is a story."

In the 22-minute movie entitled "Ragged", behind the rugged face of the karang guni man is a sad past. Having lost both his wife and daughter, he collects junk because he cannot let go of his past. He sleeps on a broken-down armchair, under an expressway and his treasured possessions include his wedding suit, photographs of his late wife and daughter, and his daughter's tiny slippers.

It was Nisar's brother, Nazir, who had urged him to take part in the first place. Nazir had observed that the karang guni man had a scary persona for some people and this became a prominent sub-plot weaved into the storyline.

"In the movie, a father threatens his child, "If you are naughty, I will call the karang guni man." When people saw the movie they came up to me and said that they still have this fear of the karang guni man. It was something they could relate to," Nisar said.

The rest of his family was also very supportive and played a big part in the movie. His sister, brother-in-law and their children were all part of the cast. His brother's friend, Gordon Morias, played the role of the unkempt and lonely karang guni man.

For all his efforts, he won $2500 and a cannister-shaped "Oscar". He has not touched his prize money yet, but he hopes to buy a computer or make another movie with it. Does he see movie-making as a possible career? "There's not much of a market in Singapore. But if I had the opportunity I would go for it," he said.

"Ragged" will even make a mark on the international scene when it is screened in November this year as part of the Asian Discoveries Programme in the Hawaii International Film Festival '93.

... packing up the day's junk and the broken dreams of his life, the karang guni man stumbles his way back to his home under the expressway. For all who have watched Nisar's movie, this familiar neighbourhood personality will never be the same again.



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