The diverse culture and traditions present in Malaysia has over the years elevated the country as one of the most beautiful nation in the eyes of many. Despite our differences and disputes, the one Malaysian spirit embodied in each of us always kept us closely knit. whilst adoring our multi-cultured Malaysia in our own unique manner.
a Malaysian, Blake yap embraced The Indian culture recently on the tiktok platform, By dEciphering our very own Thirukurral, in an effort to deliver a thoughtful message to the community.
His videos has reached the public greatly, all thanks to his easy translation and explanation of the Hindu ancient scriptures.
Now, that’s a truly an amazing and inspiring element to diverse in!
Thirukkural is one of the oldest historic scriptures in Tamil literature and was written by Thiruvalluvar in the 2nd century. It is largely acknowledged around the world for its 1,330 in-depth life values it depicts.
Thirukkural is the only literary work in Tamil that has earned numerous recognition and has been translated into multiple languages, Making The Scriputers Available to the world.
We at Varnam had a great privilege and opportunity to interview Blake Yap to know all about his inspiration and aspiration in creating content videos on TikTok, based on the ancient powerful verses of Thirukurral.
Varnam: What has been the source inspiration for you to venture into TikTok to make these videos?
Blake Yap: When I was a child, I used to enjoy watching music videos on television whenever I had the chance to, which made me realise that entertaining people in any form would be my life, my work and my passion. Now, I’m an aspiring actor and film-maker, taking my childhood dreams of entertainment to the next level.
TikTok has provided me with a safe and positive platform to express my ideas and creativity to not just a local audience but a much wider global one as well.
Of course, my ultimate dream is to act in movies and I’ve been fortunate to be given the chance to take the first step into the acting world of Kollywood because of the exposure TikTok has given me. My TikTok videos have provided me with exposure in India’s Tamil Cinema, and it’s turning my dream into reality.
Varnam: Why choose the TikTok platform and not any other social media handles?
Blake Yap: TikTok has become my platform of choice to express my creativity because it is perfect for my short skits and dance videos, reaching international audiences as well. I love being able to show my love for entertainment while incorporating Malaysia’s essence of being multilingual and multicultural in my videos.
Not only am I able to practice Tamil while creating content, I’m also able to entertain and engage with people from Malaysia and all over the world.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that a large portion of my fans are from Tamil Nadu, India, and they’ve been spurring me on to provide them with more content. To be able to connect with a global audience and see how they appreciate my work is truly a gift that keeps on giving!
Varnam: What are the backlashes or criticism faced, and how did you overcome it?
Blake Yap: There are always ups and downs when it comes to creating content for the world to see. You are vulnerable and exposed for people to judge you and your flaws critically and no one is able to escape from this. When I was first starting out, I faced forms of criticism such as people making fun of me for doing content that doesn’t fit with the way I look. What I can say is that throughout the years, there will be people who love what we do, and those who don’t.
Not everyone is going to love what you do and that’s fine. I managed to overcome criticism by reminding myself to never give up and to give my best at everything I do, because it took me a long time to get where I am today and I believe that there’s still so much for me to achieve in the future.
What’s important to me is that I know what I’m doing – which is creating unique, entertaining and responsible content that is aligned with my values.
I also always try to inject my personality into my content and put my spin on everything I do, because there is only one Chinepaiyen and that’s what sets me apart.
Varnam: How did your profound interest in the Tamil language grow, leading you to make videos in Tamil based on Thirukkural?
Blake Yap: Being Malaysian provided me with the perfect exposure towards the various melting pot of cultures and languages in our beloved country. My natural curiosity helped me embrace the Indian culture and the Tamil language through my friends. I started watching a lot of Tamil movies, and we all know that Tamil movies are a fun combination of acting, dancing and singing – which are the three things I love the most!
I eventually managed to pick up the language, and progressed to making Tamil music videos and dialogues over social media platforms like TikTok. Because of my size and heritage, many of my friends and fans call me Chinepaiyen, which literally means little boy in Tamil.
2020 is also a special year for me, as it marks the 10th year of me learning Tamil. I felt that doing 31 readings of the Thirukkural for the Merdeka month was the perfect progression of my self-learning journey. Not only am I trying to pronounce classic Tamil, I also get to familiarise myself with the Tamil words through hours of reading. To share the important values learnt and connect it into our modern society, I managed to get a book which had the text translated in English and Bahasa Melayu, so that it was relatable and understandable to all Malaysians.
Another reason I wanted to do this series of readings is because I feel a sense of responsibility to showcase and uplift the Tamil language and its literature in mainstream Malaysian media, as I’ve received plenty of support from the Tamil community throughout the years.
I also wanted to set an example on how diverse Malaysian content on TikTok can be, especially as we are a multicultural country.
At the end of the day, it goes back to the core reason of why I do things – to encourage us Malaysians to learn each others’ languages so we can learn about the struggles and stories of others.
Varnam: How long did it take for you to shoot these videos? Did you do any rehearsals beforehand?
Blake Yap: I’ve found that TikTok encourages creation through easy-to-use video capturing and editing tools, making it less time consuming for me to create videos that I’m passionate about. With this in mind, it normally takes me about three hours to shoot a video.
The whole process starts with coming up with the video idea, creating a script if needed, and to practice, especially if it’s a dance routine. I definitely do a few rehearsals before shooting so that I am able to produce content that I’m proud to present to my audience. This also prevents me from taking too many retakes and saving time.
Varnam: What were the personal challenges faced in making these videos?
Blake Yap: For me, one of the challenges I’ve faced is making sure that the language is accurately used and the meaning of the text is deciphered properly, as it is a constant learning process for me. Secondly, it’s capturing the attention span of the viewers.
My videos have to be outstanding and meaningful enough to capture my audience’s attention within 15 seconds and for them to want to repeat and share them with their friends and family.
These are some of the things that I constantly ponder upon each time I create a video, but at the end of the day, it’s important to still love what you do, because this is what the audience will connect with.
Varnam: What is your advice to our fellow Malaysians out there?
Blake Yap: Have a stand and be adamant about it. I’ve found that throughout my years of refining my craft, it is very important to know what you stand for and believe in as an individual and as a Malaysian.
Translating that belief into your content and creating your own brand is not easy, but as long as it is what you love to do then by all means please start creating!
Also for me, doing what I love is only half the story, getting to entertain, inspire, and motivate people along the way is the other half, and this brings me much fulfilment. So, never falter and give up on your dreams. You may face challenges and obstacles but you will know it’s worth it when you achieve everything you have sought after.
Tamil being one of the oldest language in the world, is not practiced or spoken by many of us because many have diverted from thE language, failing to practice and value it as our mother tongue!
Blake Yap or our home boy #Chinepaiyen is surely an idol that we should all look up to and be inspired with. In this current millennial era, not many of us actually possess the right skills and fluency when it comes to conversing and writing in Tamil.
He has definitely gone against all odds by deciphering the ancient Thirukurral with utmost flair in Tamil and English, in order to be understood by his fellow audience in the most effective social media platform TikTok.
TikTok is a social media handle that has been trending tremendously for it’s ability to feature videos of people, demonstrating a piece of themselves. It has been a great use to many in cultivating their inner talents showering them with the proper limelight in receiving the right acknowledgements for their talents.
Blake Yap is indeed an empowering Individual that uses the wide range of existing social media handles by voicing out on the recent happenings in the country, giving us a full insight on knowledgeable matters With an eye opening perpective.
Kudos on your marvelous work in creating content packed videos depicting Thirukkural Blake Yap!