Sunday, December 2, 2018

Lawrence Jayaraj.

Headline: A Family's Pain
by Bissme S

ONE woman’s quest to discover what really happened to her mother forms the foundation for The Story of Kam Agong, a 30-minute documentary by first-time filmmaker and activist Lawrence Jayaraj. 
The film focuses on Agnes Padan, an ethnic Lun Bawang from Sarawak, who takes a journey back to her childhood village of Long Semadoh to piece together what really happened to her mother, Kam Agong. 
Kam Agong passed away in 2002 at the age of 44, soon after giving birth to her eighth child, a boy named Jordan, at the Lawas district hospital. 
The delivery was difficult, and she underwent a complicated caesarean procedure. Instead of consulting a gynaecologist, doctors at the government hospital discharged Kam Agong and instructed her to return to her village over 100km away, where she died 28 days later. 
Through the documentary, the audience discovers that her death was caused by medical negligence. 
For 49-year-old Lawrence, the story is personal to him, as Kam Agong’s daughter Agnes is his wife. 
Lawrence recalls: “My mother-in-law was a loving person. She loved to sing. She liked to teach people how to sing. I have brought her to Kuala Lumpur, and introduced her to my family and my friends. Everyone loved her.” 
After Kam Agong’s death, her husband Padan Labo, a padi farmer who is now training to be a pastor, was totally devastated by her passing. “He was completely lost, and did not know what to do next,” says Lawrence. 
The documentary gives a glimpse of how Kam Agong’s death affected her family, particularly her younger children. The family even considered giving newborn Jordan up for adoption, as no one could look after him. 
Lawrence and Agnes were against the idea, and decided to adopt him themselves. 
In 2004, Kam Agong’s family sued the hospital for negligence. They won the case in 2008, but since then very little has changed for the mothers of rural Sarawak, who still have to travel for many hours to get proper maternity care. 
“Justice is not all about dollars and cents,” Lawrence says. 
He hopes his documentary will open people’s eyes to the deplorable standard of maternity care in Sarawak. 
“We have one of the world’s tallest buildings in our country, yet remote places in Sarawak are still struggling with poor maternal care. 
“We want someone, probably an NGO or a politician, to advocate for better maternity care for Sarawak. 
“The federal government has used natural resources from Sarawak to bring development to the country, so why can’t they provide proper medical facilities in Sarawak? 
“We do not want mothers from poor families to go through what Kam Agong endured.” 
The Story of Kam Agong came about earlier this year when Lawrence pitched his idea to the FreedomFilmFest (FFF), and won a grant from the annual human rights film festival to make the film. 
Filming began in July, and involved interviews with Kam Agong’s family and friends in Long Semadoh. 
The film features dialogue in the native Lun Bawang language, with English subtitles. 
“I wanted to show the different ethnicities that exist in Malaysia,” Lawrence says. “I want my interviewees to feel they [belong] in our country.” 
There are some who believe life and death is in God’s hands, and that includes Kam Agong’s situation, but Lawrence strongly disagrees. 
“What happened to my mother-in-law is not takdir (fate),” Lawrence says. 
“The doctor who performed the caesarean on my mother-in-law was not a gynaecologist. A crime was committed against her. 
“Whoever says my mother-in-law’s death is takdir, I would like to put him on a surgery table and let an unqualified doctor perform surgery on him.” 
The Story of Kam Agong will premiere at the FreedomFilmFest at PJ Live Arts in Petaling Jaya from this Saturday to Oct 6. 
For his next documentary, Lawrence wants to focus on drug use among youngsters in Lawas, Sarawak. 
“There has been a recent report that some teachers in Lawas were caught for selling drugs to their students,” he says. 
Expect another interesting documentary that opens our eyes and our hearts.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Ellie Suriaty Omar

The award winning actress and director  Ellie Suriaty Omar talks theSun about why she is supporting the former Prime  Minister  Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor,  through their crisis and her aspiration to direct two more horror movie 

Headline: Courting Controversy 
By Bissme S

Ellie Suriaty Omar will be the first to admit that she is a “wild child”. The award-winning actress cum director has been in the news for being a fierce supporter of former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor. 
Ellie was also very vocal about justice for the couple when the two were brought to court to face charges of money-laundering. In a recent exclusive interview, Ellie explained that she has a right to support whoever she wants and will stand by her beliefs despite what others say. 

Question : Why Najib and Rosmah, who are now facing multiple charges of graft? 

Why not? I have done my research. The unity among races was well celebrated under [Najib’s] administration. The World Bank said that he managed to raise [Malaysia’s] economic value in his nine years as prime minister, and considered him as one of the best finance ministers in Asia. 
Rosmah is into helping handicapped children. [I feel] the two have been treated unfairly. People have been telling lies about them. They kept repeating the lies, until the lies became the truth. 
This is the same propaganda tool that the Nazis used during WWII. Najib is a model leader that has been shot down by the perception war. 

* Do you really believe Najib and his wife are innocent? 

Yes. The hundred bags that were found in their house were not hers. They belonged to her friend. Najib had explained that his money came from the Saudi royals who were impressed with the way he had run our country. Najib has been transparent about his money. 

*Some people said you have been paid to support Najib. 

(Laughs) I became an Umno member after the fall of Barisan Nasional. Now, nobody wants to hire me. I have suffered a loss of income. 
Why should I be punished for my political beliefs? 
Some have even attacked my character. They called me all kinds of names. I refrained from doing that. I fight my detractors with facts and figures. 

* Some think you are being delusional for supporting Najib. 

Am I delusional? Are you telling me in the 61 years of running the country, Barisan Nasional (BN) has not done anything good for the country? Are you telling me the new government is totally free from corruption and misappropriation? 
Look at how the attorney general handled cases against Rafizi Ramli and Lim Guan Eng. “I will not be against Pakatan Harapan (PH) if it can govern the country properly, but it is not doing a good job. 

Why do you dislike PH so much? 

When PH  came into power, there were ministers who gave statements in Mandarin and Tamil language. We have an attorney general who speaks in English. 
I respect other people’s languages but it is in our Constitution that our national language is Bahasa Malaysia, and we should respect that. 
You also have a Malay Muslim leader who suggested condoms should be used to combat social issues. It is making Islam too liberal, and that is not good for the country. The PH also wanted to interfere in matters pertaining to the Syariah courts. 

* What is your hope for the next election? 

I want people not to become a victim of a marketing ploy. Before the election, PH promised to get rid of the tolls. Has it done it? No. Before the election, PH promised you would no longer need to pay back your PTPTN (national higher education loan) if you earn less than RM4,000. Has it fulfilled this promise? No. 

*Has you husband (actor Azri Iskandar) ever tried to stop you from being so vocal about your beliefs? 

No. He understands my motivation. My children (son Azreal, 14, and daughter Azrin, nine) are also aware of the nasty things that people are saying about me. 
But I teach my children to be strong and to have a huge personality, and to stand up for what they believe in. 

*So, what is happening with your career? 

The creative industry does not have an age limit. I can always come back to act when I am 80 [as long as I am still] alive. I am still writing. I will take whatever is thrown at me positively. I will also be directing two films in near future (she declined to name the production company behind them). 
I miss directing so much. I am so eager to direct. Both will be horror films. One will be on the Pontianak, and the other will have some comedy elements. 

*The first film you directed, Penanggal (2013), was also a horror film. You seem to like this genre. 

I love the mysterious and psychological part of a horror tale. Most people believe horror films are all about jumps scares. But there is a lot of subtext hidden in a horror film. I also love playing with lighting and the horror genre allows me to do that. 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Denes Kumar, Vimala Perumal & Deepavali

Today theSun feature my interview with producer and actor Denes Kumar and his wife a film director Vimala Perumal .... where they talk about their career, their married life and their deepavali celebration. Read the full story below

Headline: Blazing A New Trail 
By Bissme S 
Sunpix Norman Hui 

WITH Deepavali dawning tomorrow, theSun is shining a spotlight on the newest power couple in the Malaysian film industry, actor producer Denes Kumar and director Vimala Perumal. 
It will be a bright Festival of Lights indeed for them as their latest film, the comedy Vedigundu Pasangge (Rowdy Folks), has created history by becoming the highest-grossing Malaysian Tamil film, raking in more than RM1.3 million at the box office. 
No local Tamil film has ever collected more than RM1 million at the box office – that is, until now. Produced by Denes and Vimala’s production house Veedu Production Sdn Bhd, Vedigundu Pasangge – which was released in July – also has the distinction of being the first Malaysian Tamil film to be shown in the United Kingdom. There are plans to screen it in India by the end of the year as well. Denes not only produced the film but also plays the lead, while Vimala is the director of the film. 
When asked how he felt taking instructions from his wife on the set, 36-year-old Denes says: “I am used to taking instructions from her in our house. “The only difference is that inside our house ... no one else sees it.” 
On more a serious note, he adds that he has the highest respect for his wife as a film director. 
“She knows exactly what she wants and it is easy to work for a director who knows what he or she wants. She will also make sure you never overact.” 
To Denes’ acknowledgement that “when we are on the set, she is the captain of the ship”, Vimala is quick to reply that “as the producer, my husband has prepared the ship for me to navigate”. Vedigundu Pasangge is the third film Vimala has helmed. Her first was Vilaiyaatu Pasange (Playful Folks) in 2011, followed by 2014’s Vetti Pasanga (Useless Folks). The couple have already lined up their next film, which will likely begin shooting early next year. Vimala says the film will be a horror-comedy. “This will be my first attempt at directing a horror film.” 
Denes is determined that their new film will have stronger content and better production values. 
“We have created a benchmark with Vedigundu Pasangge, and we certainly do not want to produce anything lower than this benchmark.” 
Denes, who started out as a dancer and choreographer, has a varied career ranging from hosting TV shows to acting and producing. 
Malaysian Tamil Association Awards in 2015, as well as the most popular artiste and best TV anchor at the Malaysias Kalai Ulagam Awards the same year. 
Vimala has been involved in the performing arts since her university days, where she was studying for her degree in film and animation. 
In fact, it was during a cultural show she organised at her university in 2001 that she met Denes. They began dating, but broke up in 2005 and went their separate ways. 
“I missed him very much and I think he missed me too,” Vimala recalls. 
Three years later, they got back together, and started their production house. The couple eventuallygot married in 2010. 
“We are not a perfect couple,” Vimala admits. 
“We have a lot of arguments. We work together. We write scripts together.” 
She says since no two people think alike, they of course argue. But she believes that arguments are normal and healthy between a married couple. 
“We never go to bed angry. We always patch things up before we sleep. If we do not patch things up, he cannot sleep, and neither can I. No matter how much we argue, deep down, I know he cares for me.”  
Denes likes the fact that his wife is brutally honest about his performance. 
“I love listening to criticism, because criticism improves you. When [my wife] praises me, I know for sure it is genuine and comes from her heart,” he says, but adds with a laugh: “She seldom praises me!” 
Despite their busy lives, the two also make sure they set aside time to spend with their two children, six-year-old daughter  
Dashena, and three-year-old son Sharwin. 
Vimala remembers when Denes had to perform on a television show, and could not celebrate their daughter’s second birthday, she decided to surprise him by bringing their daughter to meet him backstage, along with a cake. 
“He was literately in tears when he saw us,” she recalls. 
Denes also makes it a point not to take on any jobs during this festive season. 
“I try to put my family first.” 
For the past eight years, the couple have been celebrating Deepavali at Vimala’s hometown in Sungai Petani, Kedah. But as her parents moved to Kuala Lumpur this year, the family will be celebrating the holiday in the city for the first time since their marriage. 
Denes and Vimala join theSun in wishing all those who celebrate the Festival of Lights a very happy Deepavali, and a safe journey to those who are travelling back home.

PS: Special thanks … to Mid Valley Megamall for the use of its premises for the shoot; R. Yogash for styling Denes, Vimala and their two children; Vrayz Designs for supplying their wardrobe; and Omtara for their accessories.

Deepavali Pix For theSun

Five Indian classical dancer pose elegantly against the Majestic indian temple - thank you Sutra Foundation,  Sri Shakti Devasthanam Temple at bukit rotan Selangor for making this photo shoot a success. Some  photos were taken by theSun photographer Amirul Syafiq 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Ario Bayu

I had the chance to meet Ario Bayu, the well known Indonesian actor over coffee one saturday and this is the result from our conversation  

Headline: The Modest Actor 
By Bissme S 

INDONESIAN actor Ario Bayu has once again delivered an emotionally-charged performance, this time, in One Two Jaga. In director Namron’s latest film, he plays an Indonesian immigrant who wants a better life for his son.
But the 33-year-old is quick to give credit to others. “Filmmaking is always a collaborative effort. You need a good script … a good director … a good cast and a good crew to make a film work.
“I am just a small part of this collaborative effort. I am just a facilitator of a good script.”
However, this modest actor has never failed to win the hearts of his audience and critics with his performances.
He has played a great variety of roles from gay cop in the thriller Kala, to the first president of Indonesia in the biopic Soekarno: Indonesia Merdeka.
Back home, his role as the 17th-century king of Mataram in Central Java who fought against the Dutch colonial masters in the biopic Sultan Agung: Tahta, Perjuangan, Cinta, currently playing in Indonesia’s cinemas, is receiving rave reviews.
He is in the midst of shooting his new film, Darah Daging, where his character plans to rob a bank so that he can pay the medical expenses for his ailing mother.
Ario knew he wanted to make music and acting his career from a very young age.
“I was not doing well in my studies,” he recalls, and fell in love with acting when he took part in his first school play at age 14.
His parents had migrated to New Zealand when he was eight. But he returned to Indonesia to pursue his interest in acting and music when he was 19.
He had wanted to know his roots again, he explains. His parents and sister continue to stay in New Zealand.
Initially, he had a hard time fitting in, upset by the corruption, bureaucracy, traffic jams and pollution in the country.
“I was attached to a musical band and I remember writing lyrics against the establishment,” he says with a smile. But he has since become more accepting of his surroundings.
Ario survived university for just a year before dropping out. “I suspect I have learning difficulties,” he says, “but I never got tested.”
His passion for acting earned him a four-month theatre scholarship at the prestigious The Globe Theatre in London, and this experience brought out the better actor in him.
Ario’s rise to fame has not been entirely smooth. For example, in 2012, when he was picked to play the Indonesian president in Soekarno: Indonesia Merdeka, there was a huge backlash.
Critics believed that he wasn’t Indonesian enough to play the legendary leader due to his years of living abroad.
But he did not allow such criticisms to get the better of him. He let his acting speak on his behalf and his performance won his critics over.
In 2013, Ario made his first foray into Hollywood in the film, Java Heat, acting opposite Kellan Lutz and Oscar nominee Mickey Rourke.
That same year, he appeared alongside Hollywood actress Joan Chen in the HBO Asia production Serangoon Road.
Though Hollywood is known to stereotype Asian actors, Ario intends to carve his own niche in Tinseltown.
“Every actor in the world has a Hollywood dream, and I am no different,” he says.
Last year, the actor tied the knot with French model Valentine Payen. The couple reportedly met on the set of Java Heat four years ago.
Ario prefers to keep his private life private. He says: “We are like any other couple. We fight and we make up. My personal life does not contribute anything interesting.”
He also plans to go into directing but he is not rushing into it. As he says, “a director needs to have a voice and I have not found my voice, yet”.
But when he does, you can expect Ario to shine, just like the way he has done with his acting career.

Ario in One Two Jaga
Ario in Java Heat
Ario in Soekarno: Indonesia Merdeka.

Ario in Sultan Agung: Tahta, Perjuangan, Cinta

Kuman Pictures

History has been made in the Malaysian film scene. The new film production house Kuman Pictures has become the first production house to pay royalty to the cast and crew . Read the full story
Headline: A New Ballgame 
By Bissme S

KUMAN PICTURES is a new production house, having just been established early this month.
Despite not having released any films as yet, Kuman has already made history as the first production house to agree to share box-office profits with everyone who works on its films – from the cast to the crew.
“It is only fair that we pay ‘royalties’, and we want them to feel a part of something that they have created,” said Amir Muhammad, the managing director for Kuman Pictures, at a recent press event.
Amir, who also runs the publishing house Fixi, is following the same model used by publishers to pay royalties to their authors.
For someone who even pays royalties to his book cover designers, he doesn’t see why paying ‘royalties’ to the cast and crew cannot be implemented by other film production houses.
Amir said: “If their excuse is that it is difficult to pay royalty to their cast and crew, then, we can teach them. There is a certain accounting software that is not difficult to use.”
The idea to start a film production house came about after Amir read well-known American B-movie director Roger Corman’s memoir How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime.
Corman is known as ‘The Pope of Pop Cinema’, and a trailblazer in the world of independent films. He had mentored and inspired many film directors such as Francis Ford Coppola, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese and Jonathan Demme in their youth, who later went on to make award-winning films.
Asked what impressed him most about Corman, Amir said: “He works with whatever he has. He doesn’t wait for the ideal budget and the ideal cast.”
Kuman will specialise in low-budget horror and thriller films, ranging from RM300,000 to RM500,000 per film.
“We chose the name Kuman, which means ‘germ’, as a reminder to not make big movies,” Amir said.
“Corman said in an interview that he cannot imagine spending US$35 million (RM145 million) on a movie, and ‘if you have that much money, you should fix urban poverty’.”
So what took Amir so long to start a production house?
“In the past, if you started a company, you needed a partner,” he said.
“I did not want to partner someone with money but is not ‘the right one’. I do not want somebody who will be problematic later, for whatever reason.”
Early this year, the government changed the rules on partnerships for production companies, and Amir jumped at the chance to start his.
Kuman already has three local films in production – a Chinese, a Malay and a Tamil film.
The first is Two Sisters, directed by James Lee, who has helmed horror films such as Histeria and Claypot Curry Killers. The RM300,000 film in Mandarin was shot in 13 days in July, and will be released in March next year.
The story centres on the relationship between two sisters (played by Emily Lim and Lim Mei Fen). When one sister is released from an asylum, she moves in with her elder sister in their eerie family home.
Slowly, it will be revealed the sisters are hiding some dark family secrets.
“There is a twist in its ending,” hinted Lee, who is using films like The Sixth Sense and The Othersas his inspirations.
The Malay film, Roh, is a period horror film about a family who welcomes a lost child into their isolated house.
The child predicts that everyone in the family will die, and they start to feel a disturbing presence.
Director Emir Ezwan, who is known for his commercials and short films, is making his feature film debut with Roh, which will begin shooting at the end of the year.
“I am going for a tone that is unsettling and bleak,” said Emir, who is a big fan of slow-burn horror and thrillers.
Director M.S. Prem Nath helms the Tamil-language thriller Ghost Hotel which is about a woman who goes in search of her lost brother.
Filming begins next year, with part of the film to be shot in Penang Hill’s Crag Hotel, renowned as one of the most haunted locations in Malaysia.
Prem has high hopes for the film, his fourth directorial effort, saying: “I am thrilled that I will be getting royalties for my film. It has given me the [motivation] to work even harder.”

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Mamat Khalid

Film director Mamat Khalid spoke to theSun about his movie Hantu Kak Limah which is huge box office hit. 

Headline: A Scary Great Success 
By Bissme S

FILM director Mamat Khalid’s latest film Hantu Kak Limah is already a smashing success, having collected more than RM30 million at the box office in just two weekends. This makes it the highest-grossing Malaysian film of all time.
Mamat, 55, first introduced Kak Limah in 2010, in Hantu Kak Limah Balik Rumah. In 2013, he brought the character back in his film, Husin, Mon dan Jin Pakai Toncit. Now, it looks like the third time is the charm for Mamat and Kak Limah.
The horror-comedy centres on Kak Limah (played by actress Delimawati) whose ghost is haunting the people of Kampung Pisang, including her husband, Khuda (T.J. Isa).
The film also stars Awie, returning as Khuda’s friend Husin, as well as Zul Ariffin and Uqasha Senrose.
In an exclusive interview with Mamat, the director revealed the scary secrets behind his successful film series.
*What do you think of the film’s success?

“Kak Limah has had a strong fanbase since I created the character eight years ago. I expected her die-hard fans to be eager to catch her in action again, but I never expected this overwhelming success.”

*Are we going to see Kak Limah again?

“Yes. However, it will not be soon. Maybe, I will take another two years – or even more – before bringing Kak Limah to the big screen again. Right now, I am busy working on Rock 4 (the fourth instalment of a musical comedy series based on a fictional rock group).”

*Some people have said you should immediately make another Kak Limah film to capitalise on its success.

“That is not how I work. It took me three years to direct the second instalment of Kak Limah after the first movie, and it took me another five years [after that] to direct the third instalment of Kak LimahIt takes time to write a good script. I do not want to rush and produce a sloppy production. Besides, you want to make the audience rindu (miss) Kak Limah. When you rindu someone, you will be eager to see that person again.”

*What can we expect in the fourth instalment of Kak Limah?

“Kampung Pisang will be more multiracial. You will see more non-Malay faces. Even in real life, the Malay villages have non-Malays.In the old days, you always find most kedai runcit (provision shops) in Malay kampungs run by the Chinese.”

*There is a theory going around that Kak Limah is your alter ego.

“She is not me. But all the characters I have created in my films are loosely based on people I know.”

*Who is Kak Limah based on?

“Kak Limah is based on three [stories] from my childhood.The first [story was about] my neighbour. Her name was Kak Ramah. She died very young, just after getting married. Then, I heard stories about an old woman who [apparently] rose from the grave and created a commotion in my village. The third person is a woman who had performed a black magic ritual (nasi kangkang) to make her husband stupid, and follow her orders blindly. When she died, her soul was not at peace. She returned as a ghost to beg her husband for forgiveness. But because she had used black magic, her husband was no longer of sound mind to hear her forgiveness.I took all these stories, and put a funny spin to them.”

*Where do you get your sense of humour from?

“From my family. They are funny people. There is a lot of laughter in my house. My brother (who is the legendary cartoonist Lat) is a serious film buff, and he introduced me to many films. Watching these films influenced me to become a filmmaker.”

*Do you want to direct a serious film?

“Yes. I have written the script for [a historical epic] that focuses on the murder of the first British resident in Malaysia, J.W.W. Birch. His death marked the beginning of the British empire in Malaysia. I will tell the story from the British and the Malay perspective, and will let the audience judge who they want to believe. Currently, I am trying to get funding for this project.”

*Who are the filmmakers who influenced your work?

“Mat Sentul and Federico Fellini. I would like to believe that when you combine them both, you have me (laughs). They are so creative, and can blend surrealistic elements into their works so effortlessly. I love how their minds work.”

*Merdeka is tomorrow. What are the changes you would like to see in the country?

“As we enter the era of a new Malaysia, I hope we can all live in harmony, put our differences aside and work together.I believe we were doing that, we are doing that, and we will continue to do that. But a few bad hats are making it difficult for us.”

Tuesday, July 3, 2018


The epic Malaysian movie,  Pulang,  based on three generation in a family will be hitting the cinema in July 26. theSun had carried two interviews on the film. The first one was with the director Kabri Bhatia in 2017  and recently, with the CEO of Primeworks Studios  Ahmad Izham Omar  and the lead actor Remy Ishak 

Oct 9, 2017 ( with Kabir Bhatia) 

Headline: Love Across The Seas 
By Bissme S

DURING my interview with director Kabir Bhatia, he eagerly shows me scenes from his upcoming film Pulang that he has on his smartphone – and I must admit, they are impressive.
One can easily see that Pulang, an RM6 million epic love story that spans three generations from the 1940s to 2010, has a special place in his heart.
"Pulang is based on factual events," explains Kabir, who has previously produced films such as Cinta (2006) and Sepi (2008).
In the 1940s, British merchant ships would stop by Singapore along the trade route, and the captains would hire locals to work onboard the ships, even offering them a chance to work in England.
Many Malay men would leave their families to work on these ships. Unfortunately, some never returned, instead choosing to stay overseas, and start new families.
Blending elements of history and fiction, Kabir tells a story of Othman, an ambitious fisherman who is eager to see the world and provide a better life for his wife, Thom, and their son, Omar.
Othman decides to become a seaman on a British merchant ship, but Thom does not want him to go and begs him to abandon his dream.
Othman promises to return home after making his fortune. Unfortunately, he never did, and a heartbroken Thom continues to pine for him.
The story then shifts to the 1960s, with an older Thom begging a now grown-up Omar to search for his father but it is in vain.The final part takes place in 2010, and the task of finding out what happened to Othman now falls upon their grandson, Ahmad.This time, Ahmad's search for his grandfather leads to a surprising revelation.
"I am not telling the story only [through] Othman's eye," says Kabir."I am also telling the story [through] his son's and his grandson's eyes."
Actor Remy Ishak and newcomer Puteri Aishah Sulaiman star as Othman and Thom in Pulang, which opens early next year.
Others in the cast include Azrel Ismail, Erwin Dawson, Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan, Juliana Evans, and Sherry Al-Jeffri. Most of the scenes were shot in Terengganu. Sets were built in a studio for the dock scenes for Liverpool, Singapore and Hong Kong.
"When you are in a studio, you have better control [over] your environment," says Kabir, adding that he also used CGI for the historical scenes to capture the authentic atmosphere and scenery.
A lot of research was done for the film. One of the books used as a basis for the story was Tim Bunnell's From World City to the World in One City: Liverpool through Malay Lives.
"I was very interested in getting the details right," Kabir says.
Bunnell, an associate professor in the Department of Geography at the National University of Singapore, traced the migration of Malay sailors from Singapore and Malaya who settled in England during the 1950s and 1960s in this book.
For Kabir's next project, he will be directing an English language animated film titled Zak: The Last Orangutan, with plans to distribute the film worldwide.
Set in the exotic jungles of Borneo, Zak is described as a cross between Kung Fu Panda and Indiana Jones.The story revolves around Zak, who is now the world's last living orangutan. Rescued by a family of primatologists as a baby, Zak grows up and becomes best friends with their son, Tom.
When his human family is forced to leave Zak behind, he finds himself on the greatest adventure of his life!
"The best thing about animation is that you can easily go back and correct your mistakes," says Kabir.
"This is my first time directing an animation, and I have always wanted a new challenge." 


July 4, 2018 ( Interview Ahmad Izham Omar, Kabir Bhatia & Remy Ishak)  

Headline :Coming Home atlast 
by Bissme S

A recent private screening of Primeworks Studios’ latest film Pulang has its chief executive officer, Ahmad Izham Omar, and his father, Omar Othman, in tears. The story is something very close to their hearts.
“Pulang is inspired by my grandfather’s life,” explains the 49-year-old Ahmad, who says his grandfather, Othman Alias, was a
poor fisherman from Malacca.
Determined to give a better life to his wife and son, he took up a job as a sailor on a British merchant ship and sailed around
the world. Though Othman promised to return home, he never did.
“My father was only 11 years old when his father left,” recalls Ahmad, who co-wrote the screenplay with screenwriter
Mira Mustaffa (Nur kasih: The Movie, Anak Merdeka).
“But my father never stopped loving my grandfather. He never stopped telling me stories about my grandfather.”
Ahmad says his father managed to track down his grandfather in England, in the city of Liverpool, in the 1960s.
Unfortunately, he failed to bring Othman back to Malaysia. In 2008, the then 39-year-old Ahmad decided to track down
his grandfather, as he wanted to know why Othman never returned home.
Also, as Ahmad says, “when you get older, you want to get close to your roots, your heritage and your family”.
So did he meet his grandfather? Did he find the answers he was looking for?
With a laugh, Ahmad says: “You have to watch the film to get the answers.”
Actor Remy Ishak plays Ahmad’s grandfather Othman, while popular TV actor Azrel Ismail makes his film debut as
Ahmad’s father, Omar. Playing Ahmad himself is Singapore-born actor Erwin Dawson.
Directed by Kabir Bhatia and made with a budget of RM6 million, Pulang will hit cinemas nationwide on July 26. The film is set in various locations including Malacca, Hong Kong, Okinawa, Jeju Island and Liverpool.
When asked what was his biggest challenge bringing the story to the big screen, Kabir says: “The film spans from
the 1940s to 2010, and I have to make sure I am historically correct, especially with the setting.”
Kabir and his team looked at pictures from 1940s, and used CGI (computer generated imagery) to recreate the settings.
Some quarters have labelled
Pulang as Ahmad’s ‘syok sendiri’ (vanity) project, and accused him of abusing his power to get the film made.
But Ahmad dismissed the notion. “This is not just my story,” he says. 
“This is a story about our country, too. I am telling a part of our history that has been forgotten.”
While researching the past for this story, he learned that in the 40s, many Malay men left their families behind to work as
seamen on merchant ships plying the oceans.
“The captains of these merchant ships liked hiring Malays because they made better seamen,” Ahmad says.
“I wanted to show that our ancestors had travelled and seen the world ... and it is about time for us to be proud of them.”
His research included reading Tim Bunnell’s book, From World City to the World in One City: Liverpool
through Malay Lives. Bunnell, an associate professor in the Department of Geography at the National University of Singapore, traced the migration of Malay sailors from Singapore and Malaya who settled in England during the 1950s and 60s.
On the message of the film, Ahmad says: “Life may give you interesting adventures. But your adventures means nothing
if you have no family to come home to.”
Lead actor Remy (above) also believes the film highlights the importance ofm family. The actor confessed that he
initially had a hostile relationship with his own father.
“I came from a broken family,” he says. 
“My parents divorced when I was 13. My father was an army man, and he was very strict with me. I
did not like him. I was distant from him.”
Remy was totally captivated by the script and the depictions of the relationship between a father and his son, and the relationship between a grandfather and grandson, touched his heart. It eventually pushed Remy to reconcile with his own estranged father, and now both father and son share a warm relationship.
“Sometimes, a good script can make you a better man,” Remy says.