Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Kerja Kahwin & Anwardi Jamil

Today theSun publishes my interview with director Anwardi Jamil  who is making a Malaysian film that focuses a traditional Malay wedding.

Headline : Marrying Culture
By Bissme S  

A traditional Malay wedding is the central focus of Anwardi Jamil’s latest film Kerja Kahwin that will open in cinemas at the end of the year.
“There are few Malaysian movies that highlight the beauty of Malay culture,” says Anwardi, who not only directed the film but also wrote the script.
Instead, he points to Indonesian filmmakers who had brilliantly highlighted their culture in their films. He cites, for example, Ifa Isfansyah’s 2011 film Sang Penari, which features ronggeng, a type of Javanese dance. The film went on to win best picture and best director at the Indonesian Film Festival. Last year, another Indonesian filmmaker, Adriyanto Dewo, highlighted the traditional nasi padang in his film, Tabula Rasa, which has been gaining rave reviews in Indonesia as well as abroad. Nasi padang is a traditional dish from Padang, the capital of West Sumatra. It comprises steamed rice served with various choices of meat and vegetables. In the case of Anwardi’s Kerja Kahwin, the film centres on Farah who is fulfilling her grandmother’s wish to have a traditional Malay village wedding instead of a modern one in an expensive hotel. But preparing for a wedding is never an easy affair. This is evident in the film where chaos, tension and confusion reign. There are also funny moments that will make you laugh.
To Anwardi, “a Malay wedding is the perfect vehicle to showcase our Malay culture without being pretentious”.
He adds: “A Malay wedding has everything – food, music, dance, culture and also a lot of weird relatives.”
But he laments that a lot of cultural elements in Malay weddings are slowly disappearing.
“If you go to an urban Malay wedding that takes place in a hotel, you will find the sound of the kompang (a Malay traditional drum) being played from a CD player. They no longer hire kompang players.
“A few even discard some of the ceremonies performed in a Malay wedding such as bunga telur (to signify fertility) and merenjis air mawar (sprinkling of the rosewater on both the bride and groom) because these ceremonies [allegedly] go against Islamic teachings.
“I think that is very sad. The Malay culture has been in existence for thousands of years and we should be cherishing our culture, not discarding them, so easily.
“If you keep saying some of the ceremonies in Malay weddings are against Islamic teachings, then what you are implying is that the things our grandmothers and our greatgrandmothers did for their wedding ceremonies were un-Islamic! I really believe our culture can co-exist peacefully with our religion.” 
Kerja Kahwin is Anwardi’s fourth film. Interestingly, the movie is made with a budget of only RM400,000 and the entire movie was shot within five days in April in Janda Baik, Pahang.
Anwardi says: “I want to make big movies but big movies require big budgets. There are very few producers who are willing to fork out that kind of money.”
So Anwardi decided to be creative and worked within the budget he could get.
“I had a good production team and the weather was good to me and that is reason I managed to wrap this film up in a short period of time.”
Playing Farah is newcomer Janna Nick (inset and above) while the grandmother is played by veteran actress Datuk Rosnani Jamil (above), who is also Anwardi’s mother. Others in the cast include A.R. Badul (above, left), Aziz M. Osman, Mubarak Majid and Saharuddin Thamby.
Anwardi has plans to show the film in international film festivals including the Venice film festival.
“The cultural aspect of the film will appeal to foreign audiences out there,” he reasons.
 He is also writing the script for his next film, One Night in Happy World, based on how the popular song, Selamat Hari Raya, came about in 1958. The song was composed by the late legendary P. Ramlee while the lyrics was written by his late father, film director Datuk Jamil Sulong.
“At that time, the local film industry was located in Singapore and there was an actors’ strike,” he says. “To earn extra money, the actors decide to put on a variety show at a well-known nightclub called Happy World. “That is where the Hari Raya song was born.”
He says he plans on shooting the film next year.

Anwardi ... we should cherishing our culture. 

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