Interview with Tan Min-Li: Lawyer and producer behind the film, Hotel Mumbai
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Flick Chick: Tan Min-Li

Lawyer, film producer and L’Off Squad gal Tan Min-Li invites us into her resort of a home to tell us more about her latest movie Hotel Mumbai and unveil the secret to multitasking
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Talk about being a Renaissance woman. A lawyer for the past 15 years, Tan Min-Li has somehow found the time to also produce films (she was an executive producer of 2015’s The Man Who Knew Infinity starring Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons); invest in restaurants, art, timepieces and champagne; and collaborated on a capsule collection with local accessories label Mad About Hue. “My work as a lawyer, my primary profession, affords me this,” she explains, adding that it is through the different people from different industries who have varied areas of interests that she is able to become intimately familiar with and understand the various projects she dabbles in. “I believe in seizing every opportunity to pursue passion. Although the projects that I’ve done are diverse, they are all united by the fact that they are all passions of mine,” says Min-Li. “We owe it to ourselves to explore our different facets – we shouldn’t be pigeonholed or be fit into a stereotype.” Our L’Off Squad gal finds time in her busy schedule to tell us more about her latest movie Hotel Mumbai, its leading man Dev Patel, and taking it to Cannes.

You’re an Executive Producer at Xeitgeist Entertainment. Tell us more about that role.

I’m one of the founding shareholders. One of the founders, Mark Montgomery, is a friend of mine and he invited me to join them – I was involved almost from the very beginning. Although it’s very foreign to me, I can use my skills to structure transactions for the company, for example. I can also explore my creative side. Filmmaking is, after all, an art.

What’s been a major milestone of this endeavour so far?

That would have to be the premiere of our first film, The Man Who Knew Infinity, which stars Jeremy Irons and Dev Patel, household names. We were very privileged to be able to premiere internationally as the opening film of the Toronto Film Festival in 2015. It was an incredible experience to meet the actors for the first time, and then walk the red carpet together.

Tell us more about your new film Hotel Mumbai.

It was adapted from a book based on the terrorist attacks [at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in 2008]. But we wanted to look at it from a different angle. Everyone sees it politically, so we made it a point to tell a very human story instead and to celebrate everyday heroes, ordinary people who do great things in a harrowing situation like that. It’s a film that is really relevant to our world today and oddly, almost everyone I’ve spoken to knew someone who was there, or identified with what happened, so I think it really strikes a chord with many people. 

We hear you’ll be heading to Cannes this month.

Yes, we’re going to sell Hotel Mumbai there. I’m so energised when I go to Cannes. I’m a newbie in the industry, so when I’m talking to sales agents, film distributors, producers, actors… every single interaction is an enriching experience. It’s a fantastic environment. Everyone there is so beautiful – it’s stunning! I instantly go, “Damn it! I should have dressed better.”

“I believe in seizing every opportunity to pursue passion. We owe it to ourselves to explore our different facets – we shouldn’t be pigeonholed or be fit into a stereotype.”

With such a busy schedule, how do you maintain a balanced lifestyle?

The trick is this: To me it’s not work, it’s pursuing a passion. It’s about switching your mindset. It’s also important to make time to de-stress. I love doing Body Combat classes and the endorphin rush. I’m also starting to work a bit more from home because when you work in the film industry, you can’t keep regular working hours. So working from home gives me more flexibility – I mean, I can do this photo shoot now, right? 

Photography Fadli Rahman Styling Allysha Nila

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