Migrant worker in S'pore shows his struggles surviving on S$450 salary in short film

Glimpse into the choices that a migrant worker has to make.

Tanya Ong | January 31, 2021, 11:00 AM

R. Madhavan is a migrant worker in Singapore who made a 13-minute short film titled "$alary Day".

The film, which documents the struggles and tough choices that migrant workers in Singapore have to make in order to eke out a living, was first shared to YouTube in Apr. 2020.

The short film has since been circulating again lately.

S$450 goes towards paying for a variety of things

The short fim begins with Madhavan in the dormitory, eating a meal of rice and curry. He then goes to withdraw his salary -- a total of S$450 -- from the ATM.

The bulk of this S$450 goes towards his family. He uses the the rest to pay for other expenses like topping up his prepaid card, buying groceries, and paying for his catered meals.

Madhavan R/YouTube

He even writes down the breakdown of his expenses, showing that he's only left with S$8 after paying for his necessities.

Madhavan R/YouTube

Madhavan R/YouTube

With the remaining S$8, he goes for a S$7 haircut instead of buying a S$4 plate of maggi goreng.

Madhavan R/YouTube

Left with a S$1 coin, the end of the film shows him calling his mother to check on her and to inform her that he has remitted the money.

She asks if he has eaten, and he says "Yes."

Madhavan R/YouTube

The film, which has generated over 48,000 views and 200 comments, saw many offering gratitude to migrant workers like Madhavan for their contributions in the comments section.

You can watch it here:

R Madhavan came to Singapore to work as a site engineer in the construction industry. He is also a writer and poet.

The short film was produced out of a collaboration between migrant workers and Singaporeans. It was screened at The Projector and several other venues when it was first released.

Top photo via R. Madhavan/YouTube