Understanding Asia

Understanding Asia is a seven-part series that delves deep into China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan and Hong Kong.

Each episode uses an allusive approach that begins with a hypothesis about the subject. We talk to different social scientists and experts around the world to test our hypothesis and in the process, whether by confirmation or refutation, we deep-dive into the psyche and DNA of each subject matter.   In so doing, we hope to understand the current affairs and issues of each country and territory more intuitively.


Genre: Documentary, Culture, Social Interest
Language: English
Year: 2017

Duration: 8 Episodes x 60 Minutes
Territory/Rights available: Contact us for more details
Show Format: HD


Episode 1 – Understanding Japan
This episode postulates that by looking at the Japanese threshold of heightened sensitivity to reality, we could perhaps understand with more clarity their senses and sensibility. As Roger Pulvers puts it, ‘the genius of the Japanese outlook on reality is in the selection and its distillation of substance.’ Our story examines Tokyu Hands as the physical expression of this heightened perception of life, its problems and solutions.

Episode 2 – Understanding Hong Kong
This episode on Hong Kong hypothesizes that the Cantonese language as spoken by bona fide Hong Kongers defines their identity.  As such, despite their well-known and respected business-oriented disposition and pragmatism, they are not prepared to compromise how they speak, write and use Cantonese to “re-map their senses and sensibilities to Chinese modernity.”

Episode 3 – Understanding India
This episode on India asks if by using the characters in E.M. Forster’s famed book, can we come any closer to understanding the Indian heart and mind? If we ‘get’ what Mrs Moore, Aziz, Adela Quest and Fielding is about, will we ‘get’ India and what being Indian is?  This story treatment combines a series of interviews and reenactment narratives to test our hypothesis.

Episode 4 – Understanding Thailand
This episode hypothesises that the modern Thai sensibility, both rural and urban, has been influenced and shaped by the personality and status of King Bhumibol Adulyadej who has reigned for more than seventy years in the country.   There is a whole generation of Thais who is born and bred during his reign.  What exactly then is this Thai sensibility?

Episode 5 – Understanding Indonesia
This episode bravely tackles the topic by examining the kind of media content that the average layman in Indonesia consumes daily on free-to-air and social media.  As the world’s most populous Muslim majority country, the country’s television industry only opened up in 1998. To date, there are at least 30 terrestrial channels reaching out to the entire population.  What does this diverse and paradoxical range of content tell us about the Indonesian mindset and psyche?

Episode 6 – Understanding Malaysia
This episode hypothesises that getting a handle on rural Malaysia could open up new insights about the Malay sensibility. In the same vein, will insights about the Kelantanese Malays throw any new light on understanding the Malaysian DNA?

Episode 7 & 8 – Understanding China
This episode on China deep-dives into the personality and reign of one of its controversial figures – the Empress Dowager Cixi.  A woman who literally stood at the cusp of China’s transition from imperial to modern China, we ask if her personality, leadership style and decisions could lend insight to understanding the mind of the modern Chinese layman.