Ruslan: A second chance under a flyover

“Ruslan” is a documentary about a man who finds his second chance under a flyover and calls it home. The documentary is currently promoted in Singapore via Viddsee, a social watching platform for Southeast Asian films.

The film’s subject, Ruslan first got into trouble with house-breaking and was sentenced to 8 years in jail.  When he was released, he found it difficult to blend into society. Apart from dropping out of primary school, it was hard for him to secure a job as companies found his past as an ex-offender troubling and some had issues with his tattoos. Soon after, he was sent back into prison for drug abuse.

After his second release from prison, Ruslan was admitted to Pertapis Halfway House and manages to kick off his drug abusing habits. In the process of treatment and rehabilitation, Ruslan forms a close bond with his caretaker, Ridzal Taufiq and began his transformation.

When Ruslan got out from the halfway house in 1998, he discovered a place under the Jalan Buroh Flyover and decides to adopt it. To him, it was a place not only for shelter but also acts as a sanctuary.

Despite himself  being disadvantaged by the prejudice of society, Ruslan still extends a helping hand to those who needs a second chance.

A comment on Viddsee’s online community wrote, “Yes he’s our Teban legend. Most people know him, even outsiders. A lot is afraid of him because he’s really a fighter, teaching some of the Teban boys to fight but he’s really a gentle guy”

The flyover has now been fenced up by the government and Ruslan has been forced out of the area. In the film, Ruslan was said to be working as a self-employed fisherman, and does boat repairs for a living.

Apart from inspiring individuals on the need for change to move on with life, this film poses a pertinent question to its viewers on the society’s acceptance of former offenders who wants a second chance in life.

Also, one might also wonder how much assistance is available for individuals to help them to get back on the right track and not stray back into their old ways because it is just simply easier to do so.

“Ruslan” was first shown in the 6th Singapore Indie Doc Fest, 2013