Sunday, January 15, 2017

Mislina Mustaffa & Trust

Another interesting interview with the performer cum activist  Mislina Mustaffa who has just released her next book Are You  Talking About  Trust, Mislina Mustaffa?  

Headline : Journey To Find Herself 
By Bissme S

Three years ago, Mislina Mustaffa received a plane ticket to watch the World Cup in Brazil as a birthday gift from a close friend. Her journey, however, did not end in Brazil. 
For two years, the outspoken actress and activist continued on her way, visiting other parts of world such as Colombia, Cuba, Jamaica, Scotland, Maritius, and many more. 
Mislina then jotted down her travel experiences in a book, Are You Talking About Trust, Mislina Mustaffa?. 
The book breaks from literary convention by bearing no page numbers, and not carrying the title on its cover. In a recent interview, the 46-year-old talks about the revelations she gained on her soul searching journey around the world, as well as her views on how she’s come to terms with her own vulnerabilities.

Can you tell us more about your book? 

My book is more about the inner journey of a traveller. Many travellers do not speak about this inner journey because it can be ugly and painful. 
I always thought I was the most radical woman … I always thought I was so strong, and that I could survive anywhere in the world. This journey has forced me to acknowledge my vulnerable side. I learned that you can be strong and vulnerable at the same time. 
In the past, when I was sad, I ignored this emotion. I [kept] myself busy so [that] I would not think about my sadness. But not any more. Now, whenever I feel sad, I learn to sit down and feel the sadness. I’m honouring my sadness. 
Strong is me, and sadness is me, too. To accept myself, I have learned to love the ugly and the beautiful side of me.

Do you think readers can accept the radical way your book is presented?   

My book’s title is Are You Talking About Trust, Mislina Mustaffa?. So, I must trust myself and have the courage to present something different and experimental. I must also trust that my readers will take what I am serving. 
As an artiste, I love experimenting. In an experiment, nothing is guaranteed, and everything can go wrong. It is always very delicious to experiment with something that people are afraid [of] … Experimenting gives you freedom.

*Your mother died while you were in Brazil. People criticised you for not returning home for her funeral. 

 First of all, my value does not increase or decrease based on people’s respect. I have gone beyond the belief that you have to be with someone because you love that person. 
Before my mother died, we talked a lot about life. My mother wanted a career. She wanted to be a teacher. She wanted to travel. But my mother came from a period where her father believed a woman [only needed a basic education]. She did not get to pursue her dreams. She became a housewife. But she always encouraged me and my siblings to pursue our dreams. If I had not gone on that trip, she would have been upset and disappointed. I listened to what my mother wanted, and that can be called love. 
I brought my mother’s spirit along [in my travels]. And it is not rare to find me speaking to my mother whenever I see something beautiful.

Tell us one emotion that has changed drastically because of your travel? 

My relationship with God has changed from fear to love. In Brazil, I visited [the statue of] Christ the Redeemer. There were a handful of tourists taking pictures of Jesus and praying. 
It was the World Cup season in Brazil at that time and out of the blue, a group of famous footballers visited the place. Suddenly, the tourists’ focus was on the footballers. Everyone was crowding around the footballers ... the tourists were cheering and screaming. The atmosphere was almost like a party. Once the footballers left, their attention returned to Jesus. 
If a similar situation were to happen in Malaysia, you can bet it will become a controversy, and their behaviour will be seen as disrespecting God. 
Personally, I like to believe in a loving God. I really believe that God understands these people have no malicious intent to disrespect Him. They were just too happy to see their football idols, and a good God will want his followers to be happy.   

You are also a performer. Are you doing any interesting performances? 

I am venturing into something that is call body movement. I am using bodies ‘that are not suitable for dancing’. I am encouraging these bodies to move. I want everyone to appreciate their bodies in whatever shape [they] are in ... to appreciate their own soul. I want them to know a soul is always beautiful … a soul never gets ugly.

(the many faces of Mislina Mustaffa) 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Eka Kurniawan

 Indonesian  Eka Kurniawan, 41, is an internationally acclaimed author whose novels have been translated into more than 20 languages. 
In 2015, his Beauty is a Wound (translated from his first novel, Cinta Itu Luka) was included in the list of 100 notable books by The New York Times. 
Last year, Eka became the first Indonesian author to be nominated for a Man Booker International Prize for his second novel, Man Tiger. 
His third novel, Seperti Dendam, Rindu Harus Dibayar Tuntas will be translated into English soon. It is expected to create waves as well. The novelist was in Kuala Lumpur recently to talk about his writing journey with Malaysian fans. In this exclusive interview, Eka shared with theSun his feelings about his art. 

Has your life changed after receiving the nomination for The Man Booker International Prize? 

A lot of journalists wanted to interview me then and I received a lot of invitations to talk at literary events. The literary world [also] treated me differently. Personally, I’m still the same person. I’m still driving my daughter (six-yearold Kidung Kinanti Kurniawan) to school and fetching her back. I am still reading a lot of books.

Do you think there is a higher expectation to produce another award-winning novel? 

It is a good thing that people have expectations of me. Even without that, I [always] put a certain pressure on myself. I’m always pushing the bar higher each time I write a new novel. 

Do Western readers react to your books differently compared to Indonesian readers? 

Western readers talked more about the political landscape of Indonesia and the supernatural elements [in my books] while Indonesian readers focus more on the relationship and sexual elements. But it is their right to interpret my books in any way they want.” 

Some said your novels contain a lot of sexually explicit scenes. 

Some have stopped reading my books because of the sexual elements. But if I were to tone down on the explicit sex scenes, other readers will be disappointed. I have learnt that I cannot please everyone and that I should write the novel the way it should be written. 
The sex scenes in my novels are necessary in the story I am writing. For example, in Cinta Itu Luka, my main character is a comfort woman so it will be illogical if I did not have any sex scenes. 
In my latest and fourth novel titled O, [there are no] sex scenes. It is just a fable about a monkey who wants to be a man.

 Your novels featured supernatural elements. Do you believe in the Supernatural? 

I do not want to believe in the supernatural but sometimes, I can’t help myself. Recently, there was a demonstration in Jakarta where I lived. A distant relative sent me coconut water to drink. He said if I drink the coconut water, I will be safe from any harm (from the demonstration). I did not believe him. But in the end, I drank it. I would like to believe that I drank the coconut water because it was a hot day and it tasted sweet.” (laughs) 

When did you realise you wanted to take writing seriously as a career? 

I was reading Hunger (by Knut Hamsun) and it was about a starving writer. In the end, the starving writer gave up writing and went to look for a proper job. That novel inspired me to be a writer. I wanted to prove that the character in the novel was wrong for not pursuing his dream to be a writer.” (laughs) 

What’s your view on the Malaysian literary scene? 

I do not know much about the Malaysian literary scene. I only read a small number of Malaysian novels. It is sad that we have the same language, but there is barrier between us. We do not know each other’s books and each other’s writers. I hope in the future, more Indonesians will read Malaysian literature and more Malaysians will read Indonesian literature. There should be more interaction between Malaysian and Indonesian writers. 

Your wife, Ratih Kumala, is also an award-winning writer. Do both of you discuss literature? 

Sometimes, I recommend some good books for her to read and she does the same. She read all my works before they get published. She does some minor corrections and offered some suggestions. [But] we talk more about household things and our daughter than literature. 


Monday, January 2, 2017

Abang Jay

 Today theSun published my interview with Abang Jay who talks about  make up scene in the Malaysian film industry....   

 Headline : Adding A Magic Touch
By Bissme S

FAIZUL ZOULKIFLI – Abang Jay to the many who know him – has been a makeup artist for seven years in the local film industry. Some of the films he was involved in included Cun, Papadom, Sinaran and Jwanita. The 48-year-old has also worked on some of the wellknown faces in the industry including Ogy Ahmad Daud, Ning Baizura and Vanidah Imran. 
Still, this makeup artist has never stopped learning more about his craft. Three years ago, at the age of 45, he took 12 weeks off to attend a course in makeup for TV and film at the Delamar Academy in London. “You are never too old to pursue knowledge and improve yourself,” he says at a recent one-to-one interview with theSun.
“A lot of my classmates [at that course] were much younger than me. But that did not stop me from improving my skill as a makeup artist. Over there [in the UK], they do not look at your age. They look instead at your talent, your creativity and your dedication. I have gained a lot of new knowledge with this adventure of mine.”
Abang Jay again returned to the UK last year for a fourmonth course on character and prosthetics makeup at the well-known Gorton Studio in Aylesbury. He explains that most makeup artists will opt for a ready-made moustache or ready-made bald cap when required for an actor’s role. But the courses he had attended had taught him to make a moustache and bald cap from scratch.
He says: “I have to take correct measurements of the actor’s head to ensure the bald cap will fit him perfectly.”
It was the same with the moustache. He had to measure the space where he had to stick the moustache. All this measuring ensured that the bald cap and moustache would be more realistic on his clients, indirectly, creating a more realistic look for the character.But doing it requires a lot of detail work and perseverance.
“You learn to be precise.” 
Now armed with a better understanding of prosthetics and makeup, Abang Jay can literally transform someone into as beautiful or as ugly a person as he wants. He can also tackle alien or horror looks with no problem.
Abang Jay has also picked up many tips and tricks of the trade from award-winning makeup artists at international makeup trade shows called IMATs in London.   
“The conversations and exchange of ideas had given me many ideas to improve my makeup techniques,” he says.
“I want to tell youngsters out there that the job of a makeup artist in the film industry is not just finding the right lipstick and the right foundation. The scope is much wider. It is about making your characters appear believable.”
He urges aspiring makeup artists to go out there and enhance their knowledge.
“Do not just stay put in your comfort zone.”
He feels that when you have learned the makeup skill inside out, you can always try his luck overseas, even in Hollywood.
“The film industry all over the world is always looking for a good creative makeup artist,” he says, adding that he is seriously toying with the idea of working in London. But he warns anyone against thinking that studying in a foreign country is so glamorous.
“You must be prepared to work hard,” he says.
“Sometimes, I had to get up as early as 5.30 in the morning and my day ended late at night.”
He adds that he would love to share what he has learned in the UK with young Malaysian makeup artists. One thing he finds that needs to change in Malaysia is racial selection.
He says it’s somehow a norm for Indian artistes to go to an Indian makeup artist, the Chinese to a Chinese and the Malay to a Malay.
“We need to change that,” he stresses.
“We should not care about the race of the makeup artist as long as the person is talented. A makeup artist should be able to handle all kinds of skin colour without any prejudice."

Some of Abang Jay' s works