By Bissme S
AFTER releasing the action thriller J Revolusi last year, director Zulkarnain Azhar has turned his sights on the issue of cybercrime for his second feature film, Proksi. He explains that, previously, the “most important thing” in the world was gold, followed by oil, but adds that has since changed.
“The most important thing [now] is data,” declares Zulkarnain in a recent interview.
“Just imagine, a hacker gets hold of a millionaire’s data, and threatens to use it against him and paralyse his business empire. Naturally, the hacker demands a ransom and the millionaire has no choice but to pay.”
He points out that such a crime can be committed with just the click of a button, and that the criminal could easily disappear into thin air. “Cybercrime is a huge thing in the world right now and most Malaysians do not realise it. You can do anything on the web these days. You can even hire an assassin from the web.
“I have never seen a Malaysian film dealing with this kind of theme, and I can safely say that Proksi is the first Malaysian cybercrime thriller.”
The story centres on hacker Aman (played by Ashraff Sinclair) who is based in London with his partner in crime, Sam (Bront Palarae). They find out that a mysterious hacker named Carrie has stolen sensitive data about Malaysia, and wants to use it to threaten our country’s peace and stability. Aman and Sam set out to stop Carrie. Their journey takes them to Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Things get complicated when cybercrime officer Elle (Sangeeta Krishnasamy) goes after Aman and Sam to apprehend them.
Asked if a story about hackers and cybercrime can pull in audiences, Zulkarnain states: “I believe any theme that is presented well, people will accept it.”
Lead actor Ashraff concurs: “The film is visually exciting, too.” Describing his character Aman, he says: “My character believes he is an activist, and [that] he is creating a better world.”
To prepare for his role, Ashraff read about Adrian Lamo, an American-born hacker who is currently in jail. Lamo gained media attention for hacking into several computer networks belonging to high-profile entities such as The New York Times, Yahoo!, and Microsoft.
“I have even watched a documentary on him,” he adds.
Award-winning actress Sangeeta is happy to be part of the film. “This is my first action movie,” she says.
“I have a lot of fight scenes in the film.” Sangeeta, who is trained in the Indian martial art of kalaripayat as well as the Japanese martial art of akido, adds that her training has come in handy for her action scenes.
“My character does not talk much. I rely on body language to convey my feelings and that can be challenging. ”
Sangeeta adds that being involved in this film has opened her eyes to cybercrime.
“Before this movie, I never took cybercrime seriously.”
She used the example that if a hacker takes one ringgit from every account in Malaysia, we will never realise the money is missing because it is such a small amount. But if one ringgit is taken from 20 million accounts belonging to Malaysians, the hacker is now RM20 million richer.
“Now imagine [if] he uses that money [for] something evil ... Cybercrime is a dangerous thing,” concludes Sangeeta.
Bront, who plays Sam, says most of his scenes are with Sangeeta, as she tries to use him to get to Aman.
“My relationship with Sangeeta is like a divorced couple,” says Bront.
“My character hates her intensely. He has every reason to hate her. Nobody likes to be used.”
But off the set, the two get along well, and make each other laugh. “Bront likes Sangeeta, but Sam hates Elle,” says Bront with a huge laugh.
Proksi is scheduled to be released at the end of the year.