Monday, June 29, 2015

Raj of the East

Today theSun published my interview with Tan Sri Adam Kadir who is directing his first feature film. Here is the full interview  

One man’s passion
By Bissme S 

AT THE age of 73, one-time member of parliament Tan Sri Adam Kadir (below) is taking up a challenge that many people half his age would not even have considered. Adam, a former producer and director at Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) and a published author, has just written, directed and produced his first feature film – a semi-biopic called Raj of the East. 
“I have always been  interested in  writing, and I love watching films,” Adam says and being a film director allows him to fulfil this two passions simultaneously.
Produced under the  banner of Adam’s own Palo Arto Pictures, Raj of the East is based on the life of Sir Hugh Clifford, a British colonial administrator who came to  Malaya in 1883 at the age of 17 and worked his way from a cadet based in Perak to become the British Resident of Pahang and later Governor of North Borneo.“He became close to the natives,” says Adam. “Clifford learnt their language and their culture.
He was always looking out for their interests. “He wanted the British to treat the natives fairly. This did not go down well with his  British superiors. They found him irritating.”  Adam spent almost five years  researching Clifford. 
 He read most of the books  written about the man  before writing the script. Initially, Adam intended to turn the script into a three-hour movie. But he lamented: “These days, not many people are  interested in [that]”. So, he trimmed down the script, and now, the movie is just about an hour and 40 minutes long. Filming started early last year and post-production works was completed early this year. Adam hopes to release the film on Aug 31, our country’s independence day.“This movie will be  perfect to be screened on Merdeka day because it highlights the history of our nation,” says Adam, who cited P. Ramlee, James Cameron and Francis Ford Coppola as his favourite directors.  When asked if he has  confidence that the movie will do well at the box office, Adam says: “A movie can go far with two factors.
 One is having stars in it, and the other is having a good story. “My movie has a good story. Our film industry is flooded with  horror movies. I’m doing something  different. My movie also has a lot of  romantic and passionate scenes.” Adam has taken creative licence to spice up his story by imagining Clifford’s love life. In his story, the young Clifford falls in love with an opinionated, attractive Chinese widow named Nong, after her husband is killed while  accompanying Clifford on a trip to Petani, Thailand. 
 However, Clifford and Nong’s love story does not have a happy ending. A local  sultan takes an interest in Nong and she is forced to marry him and become his queen. One of the biggest challenges Adam faced was getting Caucasian actors for the British roles. After much effort, he managed to get Englishman Carl Graham to play the young Clifford. “Tall, dark and handsome, he reminded me of George  Lazenby (the actor who played James Bond in 1969’s On Her  Majesty’s Secret Service),” says Adam. “Like Lazenby, Graham is a professional model-turned- actor.” Adam has high praise for Graham for getting into the skin of his lead character. “He was just superb,” he says.  
Another Englishman, former  advertising executive Ian Graig, plays the older  Clifford. Former Miss Malaysia Chloe Chan is the younger Nong while another former Miss Malaysia and well-known  radio  personality Yasmin Yusuff is the older Nong.  The cast list also includes local film  veteran Rahim Razali, Rashidi Ishak and  Ellie Suriati as well as Mark Robinson who takes on the role of another famous historical figure, Sir Frank Swettenham.  Adam has plans to screen the film outside Malaysia. He also hinted that he is keen to turn the novel he wrote and published in 1968, Gerhana Di Hati, into a film. Age seems to be no hindrance to this man. 

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