Traditional dance, cooking, martial arts: migrant workers showcase their skills for talent competition
SINGAPORE: Logistics manager Maruthaiyan Kumaravelu, 35, grew up watching his mother cook.
The Indian national developed an interest in cooking as a young boy at the age of 7, after helping her in the kitchen as she asked him to sear different spices while she prepared the dishes .
He quit cooking after going to college. But after moving to Singapore to work and live with five other roommates, having other people around who loved to cook sparked his interest again.
Over the past four years he has become the chef among his friends, and they all enjoy his food. They often ask for their briyani and crab or chicken curry, especially on special occasions like Deepavali.
He now shares an apartment with one roommate. Before leaving for work, he prepares both packed lunches for them to take to work. On Sundays, he rubs shoulders with snacks and desserts.
“I love to cook to please others and to make others happy,” he said, adding that even friends who are picky about food say his cooking is very good.
“I don’t know what I’ve learned since being in Singapore, but I’ve definitely learned how to be a really good cook.”
Mr Kumaravelu is just one of 20 people from Tamil Nadu, India vying for first place in a new talent competition for migrant workers held in Singapore.
The competition is part of the Tamil variety series Chill Pannu Maappi !, commissioned by the Ministry of Communication and Information and produced by Cosmic Ultima Pictures.
The series was designed for migrant workers in Singapore and the final episode will air Monday evening (July 5).
Migrant workers have been asked to submit videos of their talents, and the show has received more than 600 submissions, SS show executive producer Vikneshwaran said.
Out of all these submissions, 20 entrants were shortlisted by award-winning actress Aishwarya Rajesh.
“It was also really an attraction for them, because a lot of migrant workers adore her very much,” Vikneshwaran said, adding that many of them relate to the rural village characters she often plays.
Reception of the show and the competition segment has been “quite good” so far, he said, adding that migrant workers and Singaporeans are enjoying the series.
“They seem to like the idea of being able to connect with familiar faces they know from home. They enjoy the dancing, the songs. Nadu.”
The competition saw submissions including those for singing, dancing, playing instruments, said Ms. Soffy Hariyati, MCI’s director of campaigns and production department.
There were also unique entries featuring martial arts forms and folk dancing, she added. The top three winners with the most likes and views on the @ sg4mw TikTok account will win S $ 1,000, S $ 500 and S $ 300 respectively.
For Mr. Kumaravelu, he hopes his version of a dish he grew up eating will earn him a top spot. His submission was an instructional recipe video for fried needlefish with a thick paste made from dried chili, pepper, garlic, cumin seeds and ginger.
He chose to use needlefish as it is also a popular choice used in his seaside village as it does not have many bones and can be caught fresh. The cooking style is also reminiscent of the dishes of his hometown.
As he often visits Tekka Market and shops along Serangoon Road, he also noticed that many migrant workers in Singapore buy this fish.
“I thought I would choose this so that other people can also learn it and try it,” he said, adding that those who want to try the recipe can also use Spanish mackerel or rockfish.
He chose this particular style of cooking because in big cities, many home chefs opt for prefabricated or mass-produced spice powders.
With his video, he wanted to emphasize that in the most rural areas of the country, the ingredients are used from scratch. For example, many spices are powdered or pulped by hand with a mortar and pestle, he added.
These spices are unprocessed, with no added coloring or flavoring. “I wanted to use this style to show that it’s healthy and can be very delicious,” he said.
Another shortlisted participant is Mr. Sandhirakasan Ganesan, a 33-year-old man who teaches taekwondo. His submission was a demonstration of Silambam, a traditional form of martial art practiced in India since the 4th century BC.
He started practicing martial arts at the age of 12. At the first Silambam World Championship in 2010, he won the silver medal for India.
“(I decided to participate) after seeing the ad (for the contest) on the site. My workplace was closed during the COVID period,” he said.
“I wanted to use the time to gain something useful. Therefore, I choreographed (a demonstration of) the Indian Silambam martial art.”
He made the video with the intention of bringing the martial art form to more people, and that it is “very easy” to learn, he said.
He has lived in Singapore for seven years and has been teaching taekwondo there for two years.
As for Mr. Vignesh Sathish, whose video of him performing a traditional dance known as Karagattam was also shortlisted, he himself learned the dance as a child while watching professionals perform it at festivals. .
Dancing is an ancient art form of holding a large pot over your head and dancing with it. It is usually performed in temples or for festivals in South India. The dancer should never drop the pot.
As a child, Mr. Sathish began to learn dance using a plastic pot he had at home and eventually performed in school performances for 10 years.
Shortly after, his neighbor from the village where he lived noticed his talent and invited him to perform with his troupe, which went to neighboring villages to dance.
Two years after arriving in Singapore, he joined a dance team and performed with them on stage and on television three times for the Pongal or Deepavali festival. He often joins the team to train after work.
The 27-year-old worked in Singapore for four years, doing administrative tasks for a cable laying company.
For her video, friends from her dance group came to help her get ready for the dance. He was wearing a costume from a previous performance with the dance group, and they helped him put on makeup and film the video, which took about an hour.
When asked why he chose to perform Karagattam, he replied, “Now there are so many dance forms, and people tend to look to modern dance forms.
“I wanted to take the opportunity to show something more traditional,” he said, adding that even though Karagattam is a traditional dance form, many people still admire it and love to watch it when they do. have the opportunity.