A short film by national water agency PUB about cherishing family ties and brotherhoood ahead of Hari Raya Puasa has turned on the water works for many social media users.
Since then, it has garnered more than 3,600 likes, 3,700 shares and 350 comments at 4pm on May 31.
A story of two orphaned brothers
PUB’s first festive short film tells the story about two orphaned brothers, Din and Zul, who grow up in an orphanage in the 1960s and are almost inseparable at first, doing everything together from brushing their teeth to playing by a reservoir.
But Zul becomes hostile, after learning that his elder brother Din would soon be adopted.
There are many words left unsaid as the pair part on the morning of Hari Raya.
Viewers are then taken to the present day, where Din with his son returns to the reservoir that held memories of their childhood.
Sitting in a wooden shed by the water and thinking about his brother, Din comes across a message of forgiveness that the younger Zul had carved into a piece of wood years ago.
The film’s message of mending relationships and family reunion, which is central to the spirit of Hari Raya, left many Facebook users teary-eyed.
Sharing the love
Facebook user Aminur Rasid said in the comments: “I tear up every time I get my water bills, but this one is different.”
Another user, Jerry Loi, added: “Plot confirmed. PUB will harvest our tears as new water source.”
However, several users were left unsettled over its cliffhanger ending, with some hoping a second part of the film would be released soon.
What’s this got to do with water?
In a statement on Friday, PUB said that the film was inspired by the Malay proverb “air dicincang tidak akan putus“, which translates to “water does not break apart when you chop it”, a reference to family ties.
PUB said that the short film is part of its year-long water conservation campaign, which aims to drive home the message that everyone has a part to play to use water wisely.
“With Kinship, it is a different and also a softer approach, appealing to people’s emotions to convey our water messages,” said PUB’s 3P network director Cindy Keng.
“By drawing a parallel between water and kinship, we hope to evoke thoughts and reflections about how we should treasure and appreciate precious things in life such as relationships and water,” added Mrs Keng.
The story behind the video
Filmed over two days, the film also brought viewers to locations steeped in nostalgia, such as Tampines Quarry and the Boys’ Brigade building in Ganges Avenue.
It was written and produced by creative agency Tribal Worldwide Singapore and directed by Freeflow Productions’ Roslee Yusof.
Mr Jeff Cheong, who heads Tribal Worldwide, told The Straits Times over the phone on Friday that it took the team of about 50 people a little over a month to put the film together. This included five scriptwriters and cultural writers, the cast and the Freeflow production team.
Besides having a multi-ethnic team, Mr Cheong said that they also consulted Singaporeans of different ages, the Malay community and teachers to get the nuances of the message right.
The classic Malay ballad, Gerimis Mengundang (Invitation Of The Drizzle), was chosen for the film, as it is a well-loved song often sung at celebrations and weddings that resonates with many people, he added.
Singapore and Asian Idol winner Hady Mirza, who was behind the vocals, gave the song a modern spin with an a capella segment, he said.
Did you catch the Easter egg?
Mr Cheong said that the team even included an Easter egg in the film that has mostly gone unnoticed by viewers so far.
PUB’s official mascot Water Wally, in fact, makes an appearance at least twice in the clip, he said.
The mascot appears once, as sketches in the background of the orphanage’s bunk, where Zul and Din are about to turn in for bed, and again as a decoration in Din’s home in the present day, as his son calls out to him.
Part 2, maybe?
With many social media users wondering if there will be a sequel to the film, Mr Cheong had this to say: “The story was deliberately written in an open-ended way to start a conversation, but we’ve now had many people asking for a kind of ‘closure’ to the story.
“We haven’t decided if we are going to make a sequel, but what I can share is that we are going to have a meeting to discuss this today.”
A version of this article first appeared in The Straits Times.