Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Osman Ali & Kau Yang Satu


Film maker Osman Ali talks to theSun about his latest film Kau Yang Satu and the changes he love to see taking place in the Malaysian film industry. Here is the full story 

Headline : The One Great Love 
By Bissme S

When asked what is the biggest change he would love to see taking place in the Malaysian film industry, director Osman Ali states: a bigger marketing budget for local films.He says: “Other countries are using aggressive marketing tools to inform the world about their films. Some are willing to invest big money in promoting their movies. Sometimes, their marketing budget [is] as big as their movie budget. But we are not doing this here. We are totally neglecting this aspect. Our movies have gone unnoticed. When the audiences are not aware of the existence of our movies, they will not take the trouble to catch our films. That could be one of the reasons why our films have been doing badly at the box office. We simply believe marketing a movie 
is not important. We need to change this mindset if we want to see our film industry progress.”
Osman’s latest film will premiere in cinemas tomorrow.The story, based on a bestselling novel by Nia Azalea, centres on Datuk Mustaza (played by Zaidi Omar) who is rescued from drowning by a fisherman named Sulaiman (Wan Hanafi Su). Mustaza is naturally grateful to Sulaiman for saving his life, and when he meets the fisherman’s beautiful and kind-hearted 
daughter Salina (Izara Aishah), he decides to marry her to his son Taufiq (Aaron Aziz).
However, Taufiq already has a girlfriend Isabella (Soo Wincci) and refuses to marry someone he does not know. But Mustaza, who disapproves of Isabella, forces Taufiq to marry Salina. Taufiq refuses to stop seeing Isabella even after his marriage to 
Salina, and an angry Salina packs her bags and leaves him.
Slowly, the couple decide to find some common ground and try to make their marriage work.Osman says: “Kau Yang Satu
 is about two complicated people who are trying to make sense of their relationship. Adjustments are necessary for 
any relationship to work. The audience will get to see a roller-coaster of emotions. Love, and marriage, are things not to be 
taken lightly.”  
This is the third time Osman has adapted a novel into a film. His first two adaptations were Ombak Rindu by Fauziah Ashari, and 
Pilot Cafe by Ahadiat Akashah. While some people have pointed out that Kau Yang Satubears a lot of similarities with his  
Ombak Rindu , which coincidentally also starred Aaron in the lead male role, Osman dismisses the criticism.  
“Kau Yang Satu is nothing likeOmbak Rindu,” he insists, adding that the film’s female lead, Salina,  is completely different from Ombak Rindu’s Izzah, played by Maya Karin.
“Salina is rebellious, headstrong and feisty,” he says. 
“She does not take her husband’s trangressions lying down.”
But Aaron, who plays the leading man in both films, portrays a similar character of a hostile husband who treats his wife shabbily.
Osman still insists there are differences in both characters. 
He says: “Aaron has [given a] different [portrayal] to his character in Kau Yang Satu[His character] was more 
arrogant in Ombak Rindu while in this film, he is more annoying and ‘naughty’ [rather than arrogant].”   
Osman’s next project will be the romantic drama Pinjamkan Hati, about two people with a terminal disease who meet and 
fall in love. The film, which will star Shaheizy Sam, Ayda Jebat and Farid Kamil, will open in cinemas at the end of the year.
Osman has already lined up two future film projects. The first is a romantic horror titled Langsuirand the second is a 
horror film titled Timah Putin.
Langsuir is about a group of youths who go fishing and get stranded on a haunted island. One of the boys falls for a 
langsuir (a female ghost), bringing the audience into a world of mysticism.
Timah Putin is about a traditional Malay dancer who is murdered by her father. Her restless spirit begins to haunt both 
him and the people in her village.
“I have written the script [for Timah Putin] a long time ago,” he says. 

“I am glad to see [that] the script will finally become a film.” 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Hijabsta Ballet.


Today, theSun publishes my interview with the film maker Syed Zul Tojo who is making a film about a woman who loves her art and her religion, and how her two world clashes. Read the full  interview here. 

Headline : Breaking Barriers 
By Bissme S

At the  ripe young age of  55, Syed Zul Tojo has  finally achieved his  childhood dream  of  becoming a filmmaker. His first  feature film, Hijabsta Ballet, will be opening in cinemas on Aug 3. 
“You are never too old to make  your dream a reality,” says Syed who is the director, producer and co-writer for Hijabsta Ballet.
The film centers on a girl named Adele, who is studying  ballet, and has dreams of becoming a world-renowned ballerina. But when she starts to wear a hijab to her dance classes, her new dress sense does not go down well with her dance mates and tutors. 
Adele also has to contend with her ambitious mother Diana who feels Adele is making the biggest mistake of her life and destroying any future she has as a ballerina. This causes friction between mother and daughter. 
Newcomer Puteh Maimum Zarra plays Adele, while singer-actress Betty Banafe plays her mother, Diana. The film also stars Aida Khalid, Aman Graseka, Sally Bruce, and Azeman Aliff. 
Shot in Perth, Australia, as well as Kuala Lumpur, Hijabsta Ballet was later shown to some 2,000 test viewers from diverse backgrounds to gauge their  reaction. 
Syed revealed that 80% of this test audience said they enjoyed the film, while 16% said it was average, and 4% hated it. 
The film also touches on the issue of Islamaphobia, drawing interest from several foreign markets.
“I try not to plant messages in my film,” said this father-of-four. 
“I prefer to let viewers have their own interpretation of the movie.  [The issue of wearing a] hijab is a popular topic being discussed around the world today, and I am just highlighting that in this film. 
“I am just telling the story of a woman who loves her art as well as her religion, and how her two worlds [clash].”  
Syed also points out that one test member, an American, did not notice any Islamphobia elements in his film. Instead, the 
man told Syed that he saw his film as being about a mother-and-daughter relationship.  
When asked to express how he feels now that his longtime dream has become a reality, Syed says: “It is like you are running a marathon. When you are running, you do not feel tired. But when you reach the finish line, the [fatigue] hits you, and trust me, you’ll feel totally exhausted.” 
But Syed’s energy seems to have been renewed as he is already working on his second feature film. The new film will be about a historical figure, Panglima Awang Hitam, also known as Henry the Black or Enrique of Malacca. This 15th century Malay warrior was said to have sailed all over the world on a trading ship, before finally returning to his village. Currently, Syed is looking for funding for the film, which he hopes to begin shooting next year. 
Syed’s fascination with film making is partly due to his mother’s influence. When he was a child, she used to take him to  watch Bollywood movies. He was fascinated by what he saw on screen. 
He recalls: “I lived in their world and I understood their situations. I could feel their emotions.”  
This fascination created a need in him to explore the medium. He studied advertising and joined the industry making commercials. But that was not enough for him. 
“I wanted to make feature films,” he says. 
So he left the lucrative advertising world and started dabbling in various art forms, from photography to short films. Fulfilling his  film making dream has not been an easy task. 
“I had to face a lot of struggles and rejection,” he says. 
“Every artiste goes through that. But you have to develop a thick skin to face rejection, and have perseverance to continue believing in your dream.”
Syed has no regrets that he achieved his dream this late in life. 
“You have to understand life before directing a film,” he says. 
“[It] is not something you can rush into. You really have to take[the] time. When you are younger, you  have energy on your side. When you are older, your energy will dwindle. But you [will now] have knowledge on your side.”