Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Joko Anwar & Pengabdi Setan


Today theSun published my interview with the Indonesian film maker Joko Anwar who is making a horror film, Pengabdi Setan, with the Malaysian actor Bront Palarae in the lead role.  Read the full story below
 

Headline: For Love of a Classic Horror 
By Bissme S
 

As a young boy, award-winning Indonesian  filmmaker Joko Anwar loved to watch movies. He often visited a dilapidated cinema called Remaja Theatre in his  hometown of Medan, Indonesia. The cinema was well known for screening horror and martial arts films.
“Sometimes, I purchased a ticket, and other times, I just peeked through the vents,” says Joko, 41, in an interview with theSun.
One film that left a lasting impression on Joko was director Sisworo Gautama Putra’s Pengabdi Setan, an iconic Indonesian horror film released in 1980.The film tells the tale of a recently widowed man and his two  teenaged  children who  notice eerie  incidents happening in their home.
Pengabdi Setan terrified audiences in  Indonesia when it first came out, and was even shown in the United States and Japan. It remains a cult hit internationally even today.
Joko says: “I first watched Pengabdi Setan when I was six. I held on to my seat so tightly. When I came out of the cinema, it was still bright, and I was hoping the night would never come.”
Now, 27 years later, Joko is remaking this iconic horror film. His version of Pengabdi Setan was shot over the course of 18 days in April, and will play in Indonesian cinemas at the end of the year.
The remake is the  culmination of a dream for Joko, as the original film remains one of the strongest memories he has of going to the cinema.
“The [original] film still gives me the chills,” he says.
“I  always wanted to make films that have a similar impact on the audience.”
For the past 10 years, Joko has been negotiating with Rapi Films – the company that owns the rights to the original Pengabdi Setan – to give him permission for the remake. When he finally got the green light earlier this year, it was a moment of pure joy for the filmmaker. Joko is  retaining the original film’s  basic plot, its eerie atmosphere, and the religious undertone.
“I’m trying to keeping as many elements of the original film as possible,” he adds. 
However, Joko is also bringing in a few surprises to the remake. But for now, he does not want to reveal too much.  
“When you’ve  finished watching it, you will understand the connection between the original and the remake,” he says.
Joko has picked award-winning Malaysian actor Bront  Palarae to play the lead  character of the grieving widower. One wonders if the casting choice is a marketing strategy to get Malaysian audiences to watch his remake.
“I never choose my actors for marketing purposes,” he says.
“That is not the way I make my films. I choose my actors because they fit my characters.” 
The rest of the cast comprises Indonesian actors Tara Basro Dimas Aditya, Endy Arfian, Nasar Anuz, Egy Fedly, Ayu Laksmi, Elly D. Luthan, Arswendi Bening Swara, M. Adhiyat, Fachri Albar, and Asmara Abigail.
Most of the shoot took place around a house in  Pengalengan, West Java.
“We scouted for months looking for the right location,” Joko says.
“Initially, we wanted to find one in Jakarta because the  production cost would be cheaper, as we had a limited budget.”
But when the crew saw the house in  Pengalengan, they immediately fell in love with it.   
“The place was already atmospheric, and the roomsstrangely fit my imagination,” he says.
In addition, the weather during the shoot was chilly, which added to the haunting mood.The film is a  career milestone for Joko, who originally studied  aerospace engineering at the prestigious Institut Teknologi Bandung because his family could not afford to send him to a film school.
After graduating, he became a journalist at The Jakarta Post, and later became a film critic. In 2005, he directed his first feature film, the romantic comedy Janji Joni which became a box-office hit.
Since then, many of his films have achieved critical acclaim at international film festivals. Joko has also gone in front of the camera, to try his hand at acting.
“I decided to act so that I can understand how it feels to be directed,” he says. 
“It really helped me [to] direct my actors. How to make them comfortable in a scene, to know what’s the best environment for an actor to be able to slip into character, and so on.”
When asked what is his biggest challenge as an Indonesian film director, Joko says: “To be able to stay on track [making] films that I want. It’s very easy to be hired [for] films that you are not passionate about."




Thursday, June 15, 2017

Shanjhey Kumar Perumal


 
 Sunday will be Father's Day. theSun got the award winning film maker Shanjhey Kumar Perumal, to describe his relationship with his father and his new born son.

Headline: A Son's Lasting Gratitude
By Bissme S

Filmmaker Shanjhey  Kumar Perumal’s debut film, Jagat, was somewhat inspired by his own relationship with his father, Perumal Annamalai, 68. The film, written by the 37-year-old centres on a boy who tries to find a suitable role model among the three men in his life – his labourer father and his two uncles. His father has very little time for him, while one uncle is a gangster, and the other, aformer drug addict.
Jagat created history when it became the first non-Bahasa Malaysia film to grab the best film award at the 28th Malaysian Film Festival in 2016. Shanjhey also walked away with the best new director award. Jagat went on to take five more awards at the 2016 Kuala Lumpur Film Critics Awards.
On March 31 this year, Shanjhey became a first-time father with the birth of his son. That life-changing experience allowed him to understand his own dad better.
It also affords him new insights into the bittersweet relationship he has had with his father from young.But he admits with a laugh: “I find my father to be a more loving grandfather than a father.” 
Shanjhey is the eldest among three children. “When I was a kid, my relationship with my father was warm and sweet.”
He remembers playfully wrestling with his father on many occasions, and his dad reading bedtime stories to him.
“My father was the first person who told me about the Malaccan warrior Hang Tuah,” he says.
He believes his father’s storytelling inspired him to tell his own stories through films. But their relationship changed when Shanjhey entered his teenage years.
“There was bitterness in our relationship,” recalls Shanjhey of that period of time growing up in Parit Buntar, Perak. 
“At one point, I even stopped talking to him.”
His father was a general worker and gardener at Shanjhey’s high school.Perumal also sold ice kacang and newspapers to earn extra money. Shanjhey would often help his father at the stall and to deliver newspapers.
“My father woke up at 5am every day, and only stopped working after 7pm,” he says.
“When he got home, he was too tired to spend time with me. I felt neglected. I was angry at him for putting his work first. I did not understand his predicament then.
“Looking back now, I realised he was working hard to put a roof over our heads, and food on our table. I should have been more grateful.”  
Instead, the teenaged Shanjhey turned rebellious. He remembers an incident where one of his classmates made fun of his father. He got so angry that he attacked his classmate. Fortunately, his father
intervened and stopped the fight.
“I was protecting my father’s honour and he was not grateful,” recalls Shanjhey.
“Instead, he slapped me in front of my classmates, and I felt embarrassed. I was so furious at him after that.”
Things got worse when Shanjhey entered Form Six. His father forced him to stay with his uncle, who lived miles away from their hometown. 
“I was angry at my father for separating me from my friends,” he says.
Only much later did Shanjhey realise that whatever his father did, it was done with the best intentions in mind.
From then on, he concentrated on his studies and eventually, graduated with a Communication degree in Film and Broadcasting from Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang.
“My father shaped me to be the person I am today,” he says.
“If he was not strict with me, I would have ended up as a bad hat.”
One thing Shanjhey really admires about his father is that Perumal never stopped him from pursuing his dream of becoming a filmmaker.
“He understood my passion for the arts and he wanted me to be happy,” he says. 
Speaking on his own experience with fatherhood, Shanjhey says he was extremely nervous on the day his son, Arrievan, was born. 
“There were some complications, and I was worried for the safety of my wife and my son. My son had to spend a day in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit).”
Fortunately, both mother and baby turned out fine afterwards.  As a father, Shanjhey hopes to teach his son to respect others, to never be afraid to say sorry, and to never forget to say thank you. 
He is also aware that his son might be a rebel during his teenage years, just as he was.
“Sometimes, [being a] rebel is a good thing,” he says.
Shanjhey is also aware that whatever path he takes, it will influence his son.
“So I must be careful with my choices,” he says.
But at the end of the day, he adds: “The important thing is, I want to give him the freedom to be who he is and who he wants to be.”

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Namron




 Namron speaks to theSun about his role in Mencari Rahmat which is adaptation of Oscar Wilde's famous play The Importance of Being Earnest as well as directing a movie One Two Jaga that deals with corruption.

Headline: Unmasking The  Lies

Director  Al Jafree Md Yusop’s latest project Mencari Rahmat will be premièring at The Kota Kinabalu International Film Festival (KKIFF) which runs from July 7 to 16. This indie film is a Malay adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s famous play The Importance of Being Earnest and set in a local context.  
This dark comedy centres on successful businessman Razak Abdullah who has to look after his niece Ratna. Razak has a wild, party-loving side. But he hides it from Ratna. Whenever he heads to the big city for some fun, he tells Ratna he is going to see his troublesome younger brother Rahmat. In reality, Rahmat does not exist. Inadvertably, Razak’s charade is exposed.
Taking on the role of Razak is Shahili Abdan or better known as Namron. Others in the cast include Amerul Affendi, Adibah Noor, Sharifah Amani, Fauziah Nawi and Nadiah Aqilah.
Explaining his reason for accepting the role, the 48-year-old Namron says: “I love the fact that the director has taken the trouble to interpret a well-known western work in a Malay context. We
should experiment with the way we tell stories.”
This is something close to the heart of this actor-director. In 2003, for his first attempt at directing a film, Namron did a a loose adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, which
he entitled Gedebe. The film deals with the power struggle between two best friends where one eventually is killed. 

The other reason Namron signed on for Mencari Rahmat is that the story takes place mostly in two houses. He says that goes to show that director Al Jafree wants to put the whole focus on the story
and performances to hook the audience.
“The actors have to rise to the challenge to churn out a convincing performance,” says Namron
"And as an actor, I like to be challenged.” 
Going into more details about his character Razak, Namron says: “All of us have a mask, and It is up
to us whether we want to wear it or not. In Razak’s case, he chooses to wear his mask because he is afraid of people judging him. If we live our lives like Razak, then we are not being true to ourselves. I do not think I will be good friends with someone like Razak.”
Wilde’s play is full of sarcasm and witty humour – elements that might not appeal to the average Malay film goer who generally prefers slapstick comedies.
“We should be adopting a totally different marketing strategy for Mencari Rahmat from the usual way we promote a typical Malay comedy,” says Namron, adding that they will try to lure in audiences who love to see subtle comedies.   
If everything goes well, Mencari Rahmat will hit the big screen here by the end of the year.Currently, Namron is busy directing his new film, One Two Jaga, where he bravely tackles the sensitive issue of corruption.
The story centres on two crooked authorities  who harass and take bribes from illegal immigrants. The film stars Rosdeen Suboh, Zahril Adzim, Ameriul Affendi, Vanida Imran and Azman Hassan.
Namron has sent the script to Bukit Aman to be vetted before shooting began. After making a few changes, he got the green light to shoot but the film might yet be banned by the censorship board.
If that happened, it won’t be the first for Namron as his earlier films, such as Gaduh, which deals with racial tension in a school, and Jalan Pintas, about an unemployed graduate resorting to crime,
were banned too.
“I am not purposely stirring up controversy here,” he says of his latest project.
“All of us have heard stories like this from immigrants. I am just highlighting what I have heard in a film.I am a firm believer that a filmmaker should push the boundaries and discuss sensitive topics with an open mind. Not discussing certain issues is like sweeping rubbish under the carpet.”
He points out that most people mistakenly think that corruption is not a dangerous crime because nobody gets killed. 

“Corruption can be deadly. It can kill people’s hopes.”
He also stresses his film does not entirely paint the authorities in a negative light.
“I am sympathetic towards them too,” he says.
“I am trying to show what forces someone to go down the wrong path and take bribes. My film is more about humanity than corruption.” 
With Namron at the helm, expect One Two Jaga to stir up some interesting discourse. The director also plans to bring the film to international film festivals and markets overseas.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Bront Palarae





Today theSun published my interview with Malaysian actor Bront Palarae  who talks about the latest happening in his career. He is  is acting Indonesian horror movie as well as a Philippines thriller.   

Headline : Thriving On Challenges 
By Bissme S

Director Sisworo Gautama Putra’s Pengabdi Setan produced in 1980, is  an iconic Indonesian horror  film that went on to be 
screened in Japan and the United States.  In April this year, award-winning director Joko Anwar  (Pintu Terlarang & A Copy of 
My Mind) shot a remake of this classic, which is slated for  release in Indonesian cinemas at the end of the year. 
Playing the lead in Joko’s version of Pengabdi Setan is  award-winning Malaysian actor-director-producer Bront Palarae. In an exclusive interview with  theSun, the 38-year-old  actor says: “Pengabdi Setan has  been Joko’s favourite film since childhood. He always wanted to remake the film.”
Bront says that he is honoured to be part of the project which is  so close to Joko’s heart, adding  that the director had kept the 
iconic elements from the old film, and brought in some new changes to the remake.
“You will get a sense of deja vu  and some freshness from the  film,” he says, adding that the  movie is about a man trying to 
keep his family from the brink of  destruction. 
Bront first met Joko in late 2014 when the director saw his  performance as an eccentric filmmaker in  Terbaik Dari Langit, 
which later won him the best actor award at the 2015 Asean  International Film Festival &  Awards. 
Joko praised the film on  Twitter, which led to an invite to meet with Terbaik Dari Langit’s cast and crew. “That was my first 
time meeting him,” says Bront.
Before long, Joko offered Bront a role in HBO Asia’s Halfworlds, a landmark English-language supernatural-themed 
TV series. Pengabdi Setan is their second project together. 
Bront takes on the role of father-of-four Bahri Suwono, who has just buried his wife. When strange, eerie incidents 
start happening in his house, Bahri suspects someone has been  dabbling in black magic and now, he spirits are haunting his 
children. 
“You feel like you are  watching an Agatha Christie whodunit,” says Bront, who had to learn Bahasa Indonesia to play 
the role.   
While waiting for  Pengabdi  Setan to premiere, the actor is not  sitting on his laurels. Next week, Bront will be 
leaving for the Philippines to shoot another chilling horror film,  Daddy’s Home. 
He plays a man who returns home after a few months working  onboard a ship. But his wife and  teenage son soon realise he is not 
the same person. The film will be directed by award-winning Malaysian filmmaker Bradley Liew, who is 
based in Manila, and produced by award-winning Philippine producer Bianca Balbuena. 
The two had previously worked together on the film, Singing in Graveyards. For Daddy’s Home, Bront has to learn Tagalog to get into the skin of his character.  Asked why he is going for roles in foreign films, Bront explains: “When I act in these 
foreign productions, nobody really knows who I am. I am almost like a newcomer and have to prove myself all over again. 
“That is a good feeling. I want to be out of my comfort zone. I want to be put in a new place where I have to struggle to play a 
role. I would rather be an anchovy in a big sea, than a big fish in a small pond.”     
As for local productions, the actor has just completed shooting Safari Mall, a comedy directed by Jordan Suleiman, about a group of people trapped in a shopping mall which is suddenly attacked by aliens.
Bront says he will be playing himself in this film. “Sometimes, as an actor, we impersonate others and mock them. Here, the 
audience will see Bront Palarae mocking Bront Palarae.”  
Next year, Bront goes behindthe camera to direct his second film, Dawn Raid: The Hands that Rattled the Queen
, based on a true story about the Guthrie Group, a British trading firm which controlled the Malaysian rubber plantations. 
In 1981, a group of Malaysian businessmen took control of the company through the stock exchange, with the aim of 
returning the plantations back to local ownership. 
“We are not doing a pure business film,” Bront explains. 
“We are approaching it like a heist film. Through this film, we want to say that it is cool to serve your nation again.”

Monday, May 29, 2017

OlaBola The Musical & Rise of the legend

This story was published in theSun on Monday May 29....theSun highlighted two productions  - one is a musical theater and the other is a biopic -  that deals with Malaysian sports and Olympics. Read  the full story here

 Headline: Firing Up The Malaysian Spirit

FOOTBALL fans the world over are looking forward to the Fifa World Cup next year. This international football tournament will be held in Russia from June 14 to July 15, 2018. 

While this sporting fever will be sweeping the world, Malaysians will be presented with two ‘hot’ local productions that deal with Malaysian sporting triumphs.
The first is a musical theatre production based on director Chiu Keng Guan’s 2016 movie, OlaBola, about the exploits of the Malaysian national football team that qualified for the 1980 Olympics. Award-winning actress producer Tiara Jacquelina will be making her directorial debut in this musical.
The second production is a biopic by director Teng Bee on local badminton legend Datuk Lee Chong Wei, who is a triple Olympic medallist and an acknowledged world singles badminton champion. Both productions will be premiering next February. Below is a quick comparison between the two productions. 

OLABOLA THE MUSICAL 



Venue: 
The musical will be staged at the national theatre Istana Budaya from Feb 22 to March 22, 2018.  

Director: 

Tiara Jacquelina has been producing entertaining musical theatre productions such as Puteri Gunung Ledang the Musical and P. Ramlee the Musical. In OlaBola the Musical, she will be directing for the first time. 

The story: 

The musical is based on Chiu Keng Guan’s 2016 football film of the same name, which referenced the 1980 Malaysian national football team and how its multiracial players overcome their differences to qualify for the Olympics.

How the idea came about: 

Tiara loved the film and its theme of dedication, hard work, perseverance and unity. She says at that time, Malaysia did not have the tallest building like the Petronas Twin Towers, or the national car like the Proton Saga, but we were daring enough to dream about entering the Olympics. She hopes her musical will help capture that psyche.

Her challenge: 

Tiara wants the audience to forget they are watching a musical production. She wants them to exprience OlaBola the Musical experience as if they are watching an exciting football game.

Budget: 

Tiara refused to divulge the amount but hinted that the musical could be the most expensive that she has ever produced.

Additional information: 

Some of the people involved in the project include acclaimed music director Saiful Ridzuan, and awardwinning set designer Raja Malek.
Tiara intends to include rap and hip-hop tunes in the musical. Composer Mia Palencia will be composing the score, with additional music provided by rapper Altimet. Actress, director and comedian Shamaine Othman will be cowriting the script.
OlaBola the Musical will be the first show at Istana Budaya after it has completed its current renovation.
The cast of the OlaBola film have been invited to audition for the musical. The production is hoping that the success of the film, which collected more than RM16 million at the box office, as well as next year’s World Cup will attract Malaysians to watch the musical.
Chiu is happy his film is being turned into musical and is keen to watch it.
------------------------------

RISE OF THE LEGEND 


Screening: 


Opening in cinemas on Chinese New Year day, Feb 16, 2018.

Director: 

Teng Bee is known for triad film Kepong Gangster and the sequel Kepong Gangster 2. This will be his fourth film.

The story: 

This biopic of national badminton legend Datuk Lee Chong Wei will focus on his life from the age of 10 to 17, with two child actors set to portray Lee at that age. The audience will see how Lee became a badminton champion.  

How the idea came about: 

Teng says they wanted to tell the story of how Lee who grew up in poverty could still manage to achieve his dreams despite these obstacles. The director hopes the film will inspire the youth out there that whatever challenges they might face in life, they can overcome them, just like Lee.

His challenge: 

The difficulty of finding two child actors who could play badminton as well as act. So far, over 2,000 children have audtitioned for the role, including young actors from Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and China.

Budget: 

RM6 million has been set aside for the film.

Additional information: 

 The production house had wanted to make the film three years ago. But it only got the green light from the badminton player late last year.
Teng had an intimate interview with Lee before writing the script. He also read the finished script to Lee in order to make sure that he got the details correct.
The film also looks at Lee’s relationship with another badminton great, Datuk Misbun Sidek, who was his mentor. The producer is hoping to sign on a well-known Malay actor to play Misbun, most likely award-winning Rosyam Nor. 

The film will also highlight Lee’s first meeting with the love of his life, fellow national badminton player and now wife Datin Wong Mew Choo. The film will feature dialogue in Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese, Bahasa Malaysia and English.
The filmmakers are also hoping to release the film internationally, particularly in countries were Lee is wellknown. Lee may likely make a cameo appearance in the film itself.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Nurul Izzah & Wan Azizah ( Mother's Day)


For mother's day I interviewed Nurul Izzah who talks about her mother Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. The story was uploaded in theSun website. Below is the full story  


Headline: Wan Azizah - A Pillar of Strength 
By Bissme S


DATUK Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, 65, is the president of Parti Keadilan Rakyat and Selangor state legislative assembly member for Kajang.But there is a side of Wan Azizah that has not been explored. She is also a mother to six children, and a grandmother to nine grandchildren.
To celebrate Mother's day which falls May 14, we examine Dr Wan Azizah as a mother and a grandmother through the eyes of her eldest daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar.
“My mother had faced so many trail and tribulations in her life,” says Nurul, who is a member of Parliment for Lembah Pantai.
“But my mother is a spiritual person. She relies on God for strength and support."
Born on Dec 3, 1952, in Singapore, Wan Azizah received her early education in Alor Setar and Seremban. Then, Wan Azizah studied medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, where she was awarded a gold medal in obstetrics and gynaecology, and later graduated as a qualified ophthalmologist.
Nurul remembers in the early years when she was a student, and her mother was busy working in the government hospital, her mother would sit with Nurul and helped Nurul to complete her home work.
“My mother always made time for me and my home work, no matter how busy she was,” says Nurul.
Wan Azizah never expected to be a politician, but fate had something different in store for her.Nurul honestly admitted that when she was younger, she was resentful that her mother was spending so much time in politics.
“I missed having my mum on my side,” says the 36-year old Nurul.
"But as I got older, I understand her motivation and her sacrifice better. She wants a better future for her children, her grandchildren, and for every young Malaysian out there. You can only achieve this dream if you are busy eradicating the society ills. She is very focus of her responsibility and her role .”
Politics keeps Wan Azizah busy but she never neglects her family.
“Her parents are still alive, and she is a doting daughter,” says Nurul.
“She always there when her parents need her. [The same] goes with her children. ”
Once a week, Wan Azizah makes a point to have all her children and her grandchildren under one roof, and to have a good family bonding session. They talk about everything under the sun, as well as enjoy delicious food.
“My mother bakes well, and loves baking bread,” Nurul says.
“She has a great sense of humour and she always makes us laugh. She could have her own stand up comedy show. ”
Nurul reveals that her mother is very good at winning the hearts of her grandchildren when they are at their worst behaviour.
"She [manages] to persuade her grandchildren to end their tantrums, and she uses a lot of psychology to achieve this goal," Nurul says.
When asked how Nurul and her siblings will celebrate Mother's Day, Nurul says: "My mother is a homebody. She prefers to stay at home. It is very rare for you to get her out for a dinner. We can’t even get something expensive for her. She loves to embrace the simple things in life.”
Nurul also believes that one should not treat their mother well just on Mother's Day, and "be ungrateful" to them for the other 364 days.
“In fact every day is supposed to Mother's Day,” says Nurul.
“One should always appreciate one's mother. There is a Malay saying that 'syurga itu di bawah telapak kaki ibu' (Paradise is under your mother’s feet)."
Nurul herself is a mother of two - Safiyah, 10 and Raja Harith, eight - and being a mother has made her appreciate her own mum more.
“When you hold a life in your hand for the first time, you will realise all the sacrifices your mother goes through,” she says.
When asked what kind lessons she wants to impart to her children, she says: “I want them to be exposed to different culture and respect them. I want them to understand the world is not made for one race.”

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Joe Hasham & Betrayal

 Today theSun published my interview director Joe  Hasham and actress Stephanie van Driesen on working Harold Pinter famous work Betrayal

Headline: An Act of Betrayal
By Bissme S

THE CHEMISTRY among actors Razif Hashim, Stephanie van Driesen and Omar Ali is amazing to watch. You can feel the tension in the air. 
Even their director, Joe Hasham, looks satisfied with what his actors have created on stage at the rehearsal for Betrayal. The Actors Studio Seni Teater Rakyat’s latest production will open at the Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (klpac) this Friday and runs till June 4. 
Written by Nobel Prizewinning British playwright Harold Pinter in 1978, Betrayal centres around three characters – a publisher named Robert, his wife Emma, and Robert’s best friend Jerry, who’s also a literary agent and art gallery owner. 
For seven years, Jerry and Emma have been having an affair behind Robert’s back. But secrets do not remain hidden forever, and Robert soon learns about the affair. 
What is interesting about this play is that it is not told in chronological order, and the audience learns the history of the affair in bits and pieces. Creatively, the first scene of the play begins with Jerry learning that Emma has confessed their affair to Robert, and an angry Jerry feels awkward and frightened to face Robert. The last scene in the play is when the affair first blossomed between Jerry and Emma. 
 The play was a huge success when it was first staged in 1978, and the following year, it received the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award for best new play from The Society of London Theatre. “Everyone in this play is betraying someone,” says Joe. 
 “In some ways, they are even betraying themselves. They lie to themselves.” 
He adds that the idea of betrayal is still relevant in our society today. When asked if he himself had ever experienced a romantic betrayal, Joe says: “I have been lucky in that sense. But of course, you can never escape from people betraying you. The way I handle betrayal is that I’ll forgive, but I will never forget.”  
Joe is also breaking new ground with this production, by presenting it in two languages. There will be five performances in Bahasa Malaysia, and seven in English. 
When asked why he is presenting the play in two languages, Joe laughs before replying: “It is a stroke of madness on my part. We believe the Malay-speaking audience deserve a play like Betrayal.”
In this particular production, Omar is playing Robert, while van Dreisen plays his wife Emma, and Razif is Jerry. Both language versions will be performed by the same cast. Omar had also taken on the task of translating Pinter’s work into Bahasa Malaysia. 

Joe adds that it has never been done before, where the same cast perform the same play in two different languages. He admits this method of presenting a play would not be easy, and the rehearsal process had been tough for the cast.   
“I always choose projects that are good for my actors and myself,” he says. 
“If my actors and I cannot be challenged, there is no point to do the play.”  
Joe advises audiences to catch the play in both languages as they will probably find a noticeably different nuance in each production. Van Driesen readily admits that Bahasa Malaysia is not her first language. 
“I speak Malay like an orang putih,” jokes the Dutch-Eurasian actress who has won best performance in a supporting role in a musical theatre at the 9th Boh Cameronian Arts Awards in  2012 for her role as Betty in The Secret Life of Nora.  
Van Driesen has been working hard on her accent, adding that according to her cast members and director, she has come a long way. 
Speaking of her character, she says: “Emma struggles with what she wants. She obviously is not in control of her destiny.”  
Van Driesen finds Robert to be a man with a lot of insecurities, but he knows how to manipulate his wife and floors her completely, while Jerry is a romantic poet who knows how to make Emma feel attractive. 
“She tries to have the best of both worlds, but it never works when you try to do that,” says van Driesen. 
“She lets her heart [lead] her, and it cuts her instead. There is a part of me that wishes Emma would make a choice between the two men. She needs to be honest with what she wants.”  
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Footnote: Betrayal will be staged in English on May 19, 24, 26, 28 and 31, as well as on June 2 and 4, while the Bahasa Malaysia version is on May 20, 25, 27, as well as June 1 and 3. For more, visit klpac’s website 
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