Karthi is an unhappy assistant in the commercial production industry who is currently writing a sincere and individual screenplay. Unfortunately, he is struggling to find support from within the industry for his project. As he continues to pursue his dream, he loses his love and turns to alcohol for comfort. However, his life takes a turn when he meets someone who shares his passion for creating art. Fire on Water, the second film by Sun-J Perumal (known for Thaipoosam in 2007), highlights the challenges faced by filmmakers with artistic visions in the Tamil media industry in Malaysia.
Part satire, part drama, Perumal’s entertaining and revealing film shines a light on the triple threat that independent Tamil filmmakers in Malaysia are confronted with: the biases that mainstream Malaysian culture holds towards minority artists, the commercial and aesthetic pressure exerted by the Tamil film industry in India and the inherent risk aversion of Malaysian Tamil producers themselves.
Although it is rooted in a specific culture, Fire on Water resonates with the struggles of creative individuals worldwide. The character Karthi, portrayed by Karnan Kanapathy with a strong and subtly humorous demeanor, represents the larger battle of independent thinkers everywhere against societal pressures to conform and prioritize commercial success.