Don't Rock the Boat

Malaysian Indians are an ethnic minority group who make up 6.6% of Malaysia’s total population (2022). Most of the current Malaysian Indians are descendants of migrants who were brought to the country by the British in late 19th century. After British colonisation ended in 1957, some Indian migrants returned to India while the majority opted to stay in Malaya as it had become their home. Decades of oppressive colonial systems, adverse affirmative actions, social inequality and systemic racism has a direct impact on this community’s economic, social, and political disadvantage. These factors play a vital role in determining sense of belonging for the Malaysian Indians who have toed the line for generations in a country that still treats them as guests.​

‘Don’t Rock the Boat’ is a documentary film that explores and questions the sense of belonging and feeling at home among Malaysian Indian community in 21st century Malaysia. It depicts the reality and lived experience of this minority group through history, memory and identity. ‘Don’t Rock the Boat’ serves as a medium that intends to document and represent the voices of contemporary Malaysian Indians in order to illustrate a social portrait of this under represented and marginalised community.

  • Mogan Selvakannu
  • Mogan Selvakannu
  • Mogan Selvakannu
  • Mogan Selvakannu
  • Thinakaaran Thamilchelvam
    Assistant Editor
  • Mogan Selvakannu
    Sound recordist
  • Thinakaaran Thamilchelvam
    Sound Mixing
  • Mogan Selvakannu
    Assistant Sound Mixer
  • Priya Menon
  • Priya Menon
  • Thinakaaran Thamilchelvam
  • Mogan Selvakannu
    Assistant Colorist
  • Mogan Selvakannu
    Marketing and Promotions
  • Preeta Samarasan
    Key Cast
  • Thaatchaayini Kananatu
    Key Cast
  • Sivarajan Arumugam
    Key Cast
  • Koggelavani Muniandy
    Key Cast
  • Charles Santiago
    Key Cast
  • Ron Backus
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Reflexive documentary, social justice, Minority group, Diaspora, Indian Diaspora, Southeast Asia
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 50 minutes 13 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    April 30, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    8,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
    English, Malay, Tamil
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
    Black & White
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Distribution Information
  • Mogan Selvakannu
    Country: Worldwide
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Mogan Selvakannu

Mogan Selvakannu is a Malaysian contemporary documentary photographer and film maker who communicates ideas around history, social science and human conditions. A graduate in BA (Hons) Documentary Photography from University of South Wales, Mogan's work is an ongoing exploration into visualising the lived experience of the past and its outcome in the 21st century. His work has been featured in various exhibitions and publications such as the BBC Creative Photography exhibition (London 2019), Source Magazine's Graduate Photography Online (UK 2019), Truffle Pig exhibition (London 2019), Banana Leaf Art Exhibition (Kuala Lumpur 2019), BFM 89.9, The Star, Varnam MY and MalaysiaKini

Mogan has been the curator for photography exhibitions such as Pictures of Life Photography Exhibition (Kuala Lumpur, 2020) and Of Inertia and Solidarity (Kuala Lumpur, 2020). He has also conducted online workshops (Banana Leaf 2020). 'Don't Rock the Boat' is Mogan Selvakannu's first venture as a documentary filmmaker

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Director Statement

The idea for the documentary was conceived in early 2020, during the pandemic. I had just returned from studying in the UK for 3 years. Upon returning, I experienced a reverse culture shock. I realised that there are many things in my country’s culture and norm that I could not identify with anymore. There is a significant emphasis on race and identity. This plays a big role in almost anything in Malaysia. I felt at home when I was in a foreign country where I wasn’t judge based on my race. But I feel like a foreigner in my own country because of the inequality practiced in Malaysia. I wanted to explore the meaning of home and sense of belongingness to me and the Malaysian Indian community which I am a part of.