The Filmmaker With A Vision


That’s all it took for Vasan’s masterpiece, Yen Tappu Illai, to relay raw, profound and hard-hitting messages, reflective of the lived realities of women and individuals from the LGBTQ community. 

Upon watching the short film, I knew that he had journeyed into an unchartered, but necessary, dimension of the Malaysian film industry. 

And that his vision could change lives.  

Komalavasan (or Vasan), the head of the Software Development team at BAC Education, was an enigma. 

He was inconspicuous – for 3 years, most of the office only knew his name because of the endless Shopee deliveries that would arrive for him. But oddly enough, you also could not miss Vasan.  

Bright red shoes, yellow face mask, portable fan on his work desk.  

Aside from his flashy wardrobe and competent work, he was a complete mystery. Until one day, he walked in to the office and asked my team and I, “Would you like to watch my movie trailer?” 

To say we were shocked would be an understatement. 

Over the next few months, we got to know Vasan and discovered that he was incredibly passionate about filmmaking. We would engage in long conversations in the office’s meeting rooms after work, discussing the messages he wanted to convey through his movies and why they were so relevant.  

Vasan did not want to just make movies; he hoped that his storytelling would facilitate the empowerment of women and individuals from the LGBTQ community. 

His debut movie, Yen Tappu Illai (not my fault), told the story of an Indian woman in her 20s – how she stood up to her abusive partner and tore down the walls of fear and shame built by a patriarchal, gendered society.  

Behind the scenes of Yen Tappu Illai.


A few days after the premiere of his movie, we convinced Vasan to sit in for an exclusive interview to learn more about the filmmaker behind this ingenious production.  

We travelled back in time to discover the inspirations and origins of Yen Tappu Illai.   

“I am a listener. And when my female friends would tell me their stories, I knew this needed to stop. Our society cannot keep placing the blame on women. Yen Tappu Illai is my perspective of this harmful reality,” Vasan narrated, eyes distant as he reminisced.  

He went on to explain how his movie was meant to depict the many faces of abuse suffered by women. People tend to focus solely on physical abuse but they often neglect emotional abuse.   

The movie goes further by also highlighting violence and discrimination faced by individuals who identify as non-binary or trans.  

In the first half of Yen Tappu Illai, Vasan played the role of a trans woman who runs a café. Draped in a beautiful saree and proudly sporting a beard, she shared her traumatic experiences as a dark-skinned, Indian trans woman living in a society which rejects her at every level.  

“This movie is about them too. It is to give them the platform they deserve. Because regardless of sexual orientations, gender identities and expressions, we are all human and we should be treated equally,” the director said with firm conviction.  

This scene was shot three times – with no cuts in between – and his crew were in tears throughout the shoot.  

The Premiere of Yen Tappu Illai.

Vasan believes movies are immortalised – they can’t be deleted or removed, unlike social media posts. Which is why Yen Tappu Illai was his medium to convey these messages. 

But due to the raw elements of the film, I was curious as to whether he was concerned about the general reaction towards certain scenes. 

“In her anger, Banu, the female lead, had used several vulgar words in the confrontation with her abuser. That was such a powerful scene and the liberation she achieved was palpable. The audience should focus on this, instead of the vocabulary used,” he explained.  

Vasan was also attempting to break another barrier with this scene – the double standards inherently present when a woman uses vulgar words. 

He wanted Banu to personify a woman who was unshackling herself from male domination and societal constraints. A woman who was able to live her life on her own terms. 

The lead actor and actress of Yen Tappu Illai, Meynillen Thamil Selvan and Gayathri Mathavan.

Vasan and his crew took two years to complete Yen Tappu Illai, from its inception to the Premiere on 29th July 2022.  

They dealt with several challenges, from casting to crew members to equipment rentals. The costs involved continuously piled up, so the team had to make do with what they had. 

“And that’s also why I took on so many roles – director, producer, actor, videographer, editor, photographer. I found that we did not need to spend an exorbitant sum as I was able to realise my vision for the movie without these external factors,” Vasan added.  

I was in awe of how he had taken on so many roles. How did he learn to do it all? 

“I’m very much self-taught. Camera work, equipment, directing, editing, set development, lighting. I learnt everything on my own because I believe a good director should be well-versed in the 24 crafts of filmmaking.” 

But Vasan emphasised that he could not have done it without the support of his five-person crew. 

They each understood his perspective and committed themselves wholeheartedly to the production. 

Gayathri preparing for her scene.

Everything was going according to plan… and then the pandemic hit.  

Vasan snickered, “Yeah, we lost a lot of money during the MCO.” 

Shooting was supposed to begin in May last year but the movement control order was reinstated and the crew had no choice but to postpone the schedule.  

But instead of dwelling on their misfortunes, Vasan took this extra time to perfect his story.  

His character was written during this period.  

When asked whether he had any particularly fond memories from the production process, the multi-skilled director turned pensive. 

“Honestly, the whole experience was memorable. From sitting down in my room, writing the story on my iPad to team buildings with my cast and crew to discussing details with my friends and crewmates, Geetha and Mila. Each moment was special,” he said, eyes lighting up. 

Vasan with his cast and crew.

Yen Tappu Illai is now a multi-award winning film: 

Virgin Spring Cinefest July 2022 


Best Actress – Ghayathri Mathavan 

Best Supporting Actor – Meynillen Thamil Selvan 


Outstanding Achievement Award 

Best Producer – Komalavasan 

Best Editing – Komalavasan 

Best Cinematography – Komalavasan 

Best Film on Women – Komalavasan 


Mokkho International Film Festival July 2022 


Best Actress In an Indie Film – Ghayathri Mathavan 

Best Actor In an Indie Film – Meynillen Thamil Selvan 

Best Supporting Actor – Komalavasan 

Best Debut Filmmaker – Komalavasan 

Best Short Film on Women – Komalavasan 

Best LGBTQ Short Film – Komalavasan 

Best Producer – Komalavasan 


Critics Choice Awards 

Best Indie Short Film – Komalavasan 


Special Jury Award 

Best Screenwriter – Komalavasan 


Special Mention Award 

Best Editing – Komalavasan 

Best Cinematography – Komalavasan 


Vasan was overjoyed by the recognition his movie had received. But more than the awards, it is the general feedback from the audience that makes him most happy. 

“It is impossible to stand in a woman’s shoes, and I was worried the messages would not translate across accurately. But it is a relief to hear that the movie did hit the mark, and that its impact is felt,” Vasan said, smiling contentedly.  

Now that the initial elation has passed, the filmmaker is already planning for his next project – the second installation to Yen Tappu Illai, which is due to be released in December this year. 

Vasan giving a speech at the Premiere.


17 minutes 

That’s all it took for Yen Tappu Illai to invoke several emotions within us, the audience.   

Pain. Conviction. Empowerment. Joy.   

“None of this is my fault, and it will never be,” Banu asserted before she walked away with her newfound liberation. Her final words rang through the quiet of the BAC Performing Arts Centre.    

It was more powerful than mere words can describe.  

I strongly encourage you to take 17 minutes out from your day to watch Yen Tappu Illai and experience its wonder first-hand.  

It will probably be the best decision you make. 

Catch the film here!

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