Monday, April 24, 2017

Hans Isaac & Gabby




This one to one interview with Hans Isaac  took place after few weeks he announced that he is getting married. theSun had published the interview today.  Read the full story here  

Headline : New Beginning 
By Bissme 


EXCITEMENT is written all over his face whenever producer, director, and actor Hans Isaac talks about his upcoming wedding on July 29. His bride-to-be is 28-year-old Aileen Gabriella Robinson, affectionately known as Gabby, who is a former dancer and beauty queen (Miss Tourism International 2011), and who currently does emcee duty for corporate events. In this exclusive interview, Hans, 45, talks about his two loves – his Gabby, and his career.

*Was your relationship love at first sight?  

I do not believe in love at first sight. How can you love someone at first sight when you have not met her before? You do not know her character. You have to take time to know people. We have been friends for six years. Our turning point was last year when we realised we were still single, and decided to take our friendship to another level.   

*What do you like and dislike about Gabby? 

Money is not everything to her, and I find that refreshing. She does not define a person through wealth. She also knows how to pamper me and accepts my strength and my weaknesses. What I dislike about her ... well, she loves to procrastinate.  

Gives us a sneak preview of your wedding plans. 

I had wanted my parents to be a big part of my wedding. [But since] they have passed away, I will include elements of them in my wedding. 
For my church wedding, I will be wearing barong (traditional Filipino attire) because my mother was Filipino. After the church wedding, there will be a lunch reception for family members and close friends. The food will feature Indian cuisine (his dad was Indian-Eurasian). 
At night, the wedding reception will have more of a European atmosphere, and that comes from Gabby’s side. At the reception, [local music legend] Micheal Verappan, with his 40-piece band, will entertain the guests. 
I’m also getting [English actor singer] Stephen Rahman Hughes to fly in for my wedding and perhaps perform a duet with [singer] Jaclyn Victor. 

Are you getting married because you are getting older and facing pressure to tie the knot?  (Laughs) 

If I had not found the right woman, I would not be getting married. I will never commit myself to the wrong person. I am not the type who gives in to pressure. 

*You once said that if you had gotten married earlier, you would be a divorcee by now.  

I was too wrapped up in my career. I was filming every day. My career would have interfered with my marriage. Then, I had to take care of my mother who was suffering from cancer. I wanted to spend my time looking after her (she passed away three years ago). Now, I’m ready to settle down.

*What’s next in your career?  

I [will be playing] a commander in Police Evo 2. I have never played a military role before. Also, I will be producing a free motivational tour all over Malaysia in August and September. There will be 10 comedians who will perform comedy sketches and give motivational talks to members of the public.  I am also planning to direct an epic film entitled Rejang (a reference to the Rejang river in Sarawak), focusing on the Iban and Dayak communities. This [is] my dream project. 

*What change would you like to see in the local film industry? 

[For] our cinemas [to show] 60% Malaysian films and 40% foreign films. South Korea has done that, and it has boosted its film industry.” 

*You also founded Tall Order Productions, which among other things, stages musical theatre shows. What is the concept behind the shows? 

[They] are mostly about underdogs achieving success. For example, Lat the Musical is about a kampung boy who goes on to become an international cartoonist; Cuci the Musical is about four window cleaners who want to wash the windows of Petronas Twin Towers; Supermokh the Musical is a biopic about a young boy who becomes a famous footballer. I wanted to motivate Malaysians so that they can achieve any dream if they put their minds to it. 

Hans also revealed that he has already planned his next musical, which will be about a “prominent sports personality”. He kept mum about the individual’s identity, but it might very well be our local badminton hero Datuk Lee Chong Wei. Fans will just have to wait and see 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Saw Teong Hin




Malaysian director Saw Teong Hin speaks to theSun about his latest film You Mean The World to Me that highlights his relationship with  his mother  

Headline: A Family Affair

LOCAL director Saw Teong Hin’s latest film, You Mean the World to Me, is something very close to his heart. It is based on his family, especially his contentious relationship with his mother. In addition, it is the first Malaysian-made Hokkien movie.
You Mean the World to Me centres on Sunny, a filmmaker who returns to his hometown in Penang to shoot a new film. Playing Sunny is Malaysian actor Federick Lee, while Singaporean actress Neo Swee Lin plays his mother.
Others in the cast include John Tan, Yeo Yann Yann and Tan Ai Suan, while Penang boy Gregg Koay takes on his first film role playing the young Sunny.
Saw, who was named best director at the 18th Malaysia Film Festival for his work on 2004’s Puteri Gunung Ledang, says: “I have [had] some success in my film career, [but none] of the work I was doing was truly reflective of me. I wanted to do something meaningful for myself.” 
So, Saw set out to write a script that featured more of his ‘voice’, including characters based upon himself, his siblings, and his mother. Saw was the youngest of six children. His mother came from a rich family, and she married his father, who was wealthy in his own right. However, the family soon fell on hard times.
“[Going] from having money, to not having money, must have been hard on her,” he said.
To make matters worse, one of his older brothers suffered from psychological issues.
“He was a disruptive force in my family,” Saw remembers.
“But my late mother was constantly defending him.” 
There were plans to commit his brother to an institution where he could get help. But his mother would not accept the suggestion.
“I could not understand how my mother chose to love one child more than the others,” he says.
“I always thought my mother never loved me. And I resented her for that.”
Saw insists that he has no intention of painting his late mother as a villain in the movie. He says, in his youth, he let his resentment rule him, adding: “I did not put myself in her shoes, and I just judged her. When you have resentment, you have no compassion.
“I was not good to her when she was alive. But over the years, [maturity] allowed me to see my mother in a totally different light.  I made this movie because I wanted to highlight her sacrifices, and to make a public apology for all the wrong I had done to her.”
Saw admits that he took some creative liberty, adding doses of fiction into the otherwise autobiographical story.
“For example, I had five siblings but in the movie, my lead character only has an older brother and sister,” he says.
Saw admits that directing the film brought on several challenges. He had designed the set to look like his childhood home. When he arrived to shoot the movie, it brought back all the raw emotions surrounding his past, but Saw managed to hold himself together and continue working. He also faced opposition from his siblings.
“Most Asians do not like talking about the ugliness and the flaws in their family.”
Thankfully, his siblings managed to put aside their reservations and trusted him to tell their story fairly. Saw wrote the script in 2010, but securing financing for the film turned out to be an arduous task. Some said they would only invest in the project if he changed the language spoken to Mandarin. “Language is an important element in understanding a person’s personality and character,” Saw says. “Every language is structured differently. If you are a native Hokkien speaker, your nuances will be different from a Mandarin speaker. I can’t really imagine my characters speaking Mandarin. It was a very personal script to me and I was not ready to make that change.” 
 In 2014, he presented the work as a stage play, which received rave reviews. The success of the play helped open doors for him to get funds to turn the play into a feature film. Saw also managed to rope in international cinematographer Christopher Doyle (who worked on Wong Kar Fai’s In the Mood for Love and Zhang Yimou’s Hero). He also got Taiwanese singer Zhao Chuan to sing the movie’s theme song.
“When you watch the film, you will realise that I love my family, and I am proud of where I came from,” he says.
“I am hoping my audience will walk away feeling grateful for their family, and their parents. Your parents had to put aside their dreams, [in order] to put food on the table for you.”

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

M.Hany Hisham


Today theSun published my interview with the author M Hany Hisham who wrote his first novel. Read the full story here:

Headline: Journey Of A Lifetime 
By Bissme S

TRAVELLING can be a wonderful balm for a wounded heart. M. Hany Hisham captures this situation perfectly in his debut novel Antara Langit, Bumi Dan Dua Hati. 
His story centres on a Malaysian woman named Illyani Izhar who embarks on a journey across Europe. Some of the countries she visits include Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. 
However, Illyani is no mere adventurer. All of this is just a screen for the turmoil in her life. As a teenager, Illyana lost her mother to cancer, and since then, her relationship with her father has deteriorated. 
She is also sexually harassed at work, and develops a phobia of men. But instead of running from her problems, Illyani began her journey intending to sort out the mess in her life. 
During our interview, it became clear that Hany and his heroine share some similarities. 
“Most authors draw inspiration from their own lives, and I am no different,” he admits. 
Just as Illyani lost her mother to cancer, Hany lost his own father to the disease. 
“I was only 14 when my father passed away,” recalls the 38-year-old author, who was born and raised in Kuala Terengganu. 
“A young boy needs a father figure in his life. But I [was] lucky [to be] the seventh of nine children, and my older siblings helped me cope with my father’s death.” 
Another similarity between Hany and Illyani is that Hany loves travelling, too. 
“I [have] wanted to see the world since I was a young boy,” he says. 
Sadly, he came from a poor family and did not have the money to travel. 
“I used to be jealous of my cousins who could easily visit Kuala Lumpur,” he remembers. 
“When one of my older brothers got a job in Kuala Lumpur, I visited him and could stay in his apartment.” 
While his brother was busy working, Hany made his own plans to explore the cosmopolitan city by himself. 
And when another of his brothers got a scholarship to study in the United Kingdom, Hany kept all the pictures that his brother sent from the country. 
“I made a vow to visit the United Kingdom one day,” he says. 
Years later, once Hany started a career as an engineer in the oil and gas company, he was finally able to fulfil his longtime dream of travelling. 
The first place he visited was Bali, Indonesia. To date, he has visited 25 countries. 
“The beauty of the world is difficult to ignore,” he says. 
Hany said, however, that travelling is not always pleasant and beautiful. “Sometimes, you feel lonely and vulnerable when you are travelling,” he says. 
“You will miss your family and your friends very much. The only person you can depend on is yourself. 
“[While travelling], you get the chance to re-examine your relationship with everyone, including God. Sometimes, you will come across some people who will try to cheat you, and that makes you feel intimidated.” 
Travelling also turned him into a storyteller. He started a blog to record what he saw while visiting these foreign countries. 
“I wanted to capture my emotions in words, and write about the experiences I [could not find] in my own country,” he says. 
In 2015, as the oil and gas industry was going through some challenging times, Hany decided to take a chance at becoming a fulltime author. 
“I always had an active imagination when I was a kid,” he says. 
“I always wanted to tell stories. I have always wanted to be an author.” 
Instead of writing a travelogue, Hany decided to blend fact with fiction and hence, Antara Langit, Bumi Dan Dua Hati was born. All the travel ancedotes in the novel were based on his own experiences. 
“I want my novel to be inspirational, and spread the message of hope and [promise of] a better tomorrow to the readers,” he says. He is already working on his second novel, and readers can expect travel to be an important elements in his new novel as well. 
“You are never the same person after you’ve returned from your trips,” he says. 
“Travelling changes your view of the world.”  

Monday, April 3, 2017

Gadis Jalan Burmah

Sharifah Aleysha, Farah Rani and Ashraf Zain talks  to theSun about theatre production  Gadis Jalan Burmah. The interview was published today.

Headline: An Emotional Roller Coaster 
By Bissme

You will be laughing, crying and smiling. You will also be angry. At times, you feel like you are in love; then next moment are facing heartbreak. 
Welcome to the world of Kartini Shuib, a 42-year-old former air stewardess, and the subject of the one-woman stage play Gadis Jalan Burmah. The play is renowned for running the audience through the gamut of emotions. 
Written by actor and writer Redza Minhat, the comedy drama show was first performed in 2006 with Soefira Jaafar playing Kartini under the direction of David Lim. 
Two years later, it was restaged with Sherry Al-Hadad in the role and Megat Shahriza directing.  Now, the 90-minute play is staged for the third time from this Thursday to Sunday at Kotak (Five Arts Centre Studio) in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur. 
Directed by Ashraf Zain, it will feature actress Farah Rani as Kartini. The play opens with Kartini in her kitchen, baking her own birthday cake. As she makes the cake, she recites a monologue about her life. 
Everyone is telling her that it is about time she settles down, and she contemplates going on a date with Kassim Rahman, an insurance salesman whom her mother has chosen for her. She also recalls some of the relationships she has had, including with a pilot, a  veterinarian, and an American expat. 
When asked why he chose this play to restage yet again, Ashraf, who is also a freelance  actor and scriptwriter, said: “The script was written 10 years ago but the issues are still relevant today. 
“Kartini is a free-spirited person and she is determined to live her life the way she wants. Of course, her journey is not an easy one. There is always pressure from society [to] c onform, and if you are  different, you’re punished.”  
Ashraf also laments the fact that there are few scripts out there which highlight strong female c haracters like Gadis Jalan Burmah. 
For Farah, the role of Kartini is just the latest in a line of memorable stage roles she played, including Melur in Parah, and Maznah in  Nadirah. 
For her, Gadis Jalan Burmah is a well constructed one woman play. 
“The audience will see [Kartini’s] strength and her vulnerability,” says Farah, adding that good stories like this always stand the test of time. 
“I am glad we are re-staging this production, because we are exposing the play to a new  generation of audience who has not seen the work.”     
Besides playing Kartini, Farah will be playing 20 other minor characters in the play, including Kartini’s m other, aunties and her boyfriends. 
“This is the most difficult thing I have done in my career,” the actress says. 
“If I can pull this off, I will be very pleased with myself.” 
The show is being produced by Sharifah Aleysha, who was drawn to the project by the story’s strong feminist angle. 
“I’m one person who does not enjoy it when a man writes about a woman,” says the actress, who recently had success with her play Tiga, which she directed and wrote. 
"When a man writes about a female character, she is either a slut or a nun. She is either too good or too bad. Most of them do not choose to write about women [who come in] shades of grey.” 
Previously, the only male writer whom she feels has done  justice to female characters is director and playwright  Namron. Now, she has found similar traits in Gadis Jalan Burmah’s writer Redza. 
Sharifah points out that Kartini is not portrayed as strong all the time, as the character also suffers from self doubts over her choices.  “I get annoyed with Kartini when she goes through such doubts,” she says. 
“But you cannot be strong all the time. A woman has to embrace all her emotions.”  
What strikes Sharifah most about the play is the loneliness that Kartini feels in her journey to be true to herself. 
“She can’t see eye-to-eye with her mother, her relatives, her friends and her ex boyfriends, and sometimes, that can make you feel lonely."

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Amy Search

The Malaysian iconic rock singer Amy Search talks to theSun his business venture.  Read the full story here 

 Headline : More Labels to His Name 
By Bissme S
 
MALAYSIAN rock icon Amy Search will be strutting his stuff to a different tune come April 2 – and the singer is all excited about the upcoming event. Amy, whose real name is Suhaimi Abdul Rahman, will be taking to the catwalk at the Asia Islamic Fashion Week event at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre. “This will not be my first time walking the runway,” says Amy who hails from Johor Baru.
In the past, renowned Malaysian designers had used this legendary icon to promote their clothes. But this event will be different for him as it will be the first time Amy will be showcasing his own label and wearing his own designs.
Four years ago, the singer took his first steps into the fashion world after noticing that vendors at the local night markets were selling replicas of the high songkoks that he used to wear in his concerts, and calling them Amy Search Songkok. That inspired him to start his own line of songkoks. Last year, he took an even bigger step by producing a series of jubahs which sold like hot cakes. 
“It was not only the men who were wearing my jubahs,” Amy recalls.
“Even the women were wearing them! My jubah has become a popular [unisex] fashion wear. It was great to see people wearing the designs I had created.”
For the coming event on April 2, Amy will be showcasing seven different designs of menswear under his label, General Products by Amy Search.
“I have always had a passion for fashion and music,” explains Amy on his latest venture.
Now that he has realised his passion for music, he is happy to see his passion for fashion turning into reality with the launch of his clothing label. As he draws a lot of inspiration from Islamic design elements, Amy feels that the Asia Islamic Fashion Week (from March 30 to April 2) is the perfect platform to unveil his designs.
Some critics have accused him of putting too much emphasis on Arab elements in his designs to the detriment of  Malay culture. But Amy insists he has not forgotten his Malay roots. In fact, he is planning to come out with a series of baju Melayus for the coming Hari Raya. 
Asked if he is worried over the possibility of his designs being copied and sold at cheaper prices, Amy says: “Piracy happens in any business. You cannot avoid it. But I know my diehard fans and supporters will only buy my designs. Even those days when my albums were being pirated, many of my fans supported me and bought my original albums.”
Amy also has plans to turn another of his passions into a business. His love for coffee has pushed him to come out with his own brand called Phewiiit, which will be launched at the end of the year.
He has other business ventures in the pipeline as well, but will only reveal them “when the time is right”.
As for his music career, he admits it has taken a backseat in his life at the moment.
“I will perform whenever I am called upon to do so,” he adds.
But you cannot deny [that] the music industry is not as glorious as it was in the olden days. This is not only happening in Malaysia but everywhere. Even some big recording companies overseas are selling their assets, closing down and merging.”
As a result, Amy says singers have to venture into other businesses to survive. Next year, the singer will be birthday and he has expressed a desire to come out with an autobiography to mark his 35 years in the music industry.
“When I first started my career in the music industry, I never thought I will last this long,” he adds.
When asked the secret to his still youthful looks and spirit, Amy replies with a laugh: “I mix with younger people.”  
Actually, it might have a lot to do with his philosophy: “You are never too old to live your life to the fullest.” Amy lives it, taking up skydiving and scuba diving recently, and climbing Mount Kinabalu last year.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Al Jafree & Oscar Wilde



 Al Jafree Md Yusop talks to theSun about his experience of turning the famous play The Importance Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde into a Malay film. Here is the full story  

Headline: Al Jafree on Being Earnest 
By Bissme S

The first time Al Jafree Md Yusop  read Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest was at the age of 15. He was immediately attracted to the material in this Irish playwright’s play, one of Wilde’s most witty and sarcastic  works.
“That was the first time I realised that you can be critical and funny at the same time,” he says, adding that some of these great  comedies have the ability “to make us laugh about ourselves without us realising it”.
Although Wilde wrote the play over a hundred years ago and it was first staged in 1895, it’s still relevant today, Al Jafree adds.
The scriptwriter then decided to translate Wilde’s play into into Bahasa Malaysia. However, it was only in 1991 that he was able to start work on the translation.
“[Wilde’s] play has a dry sense of humour,” says the scriptwriter-director.
“Everyone kept insisting that I would not be able to capture this essence in Bahasa  Malaysia.
But I wanted to prove that Wilde’s work can be adapted into the Malay culture, in the Malay language, and in a  Malay atmosphere.”
It took another 10 years before actor-director Adlin Aman Ramlie presented Al Jafree’s Bahasa Malaysia version of The Importance of Being Earnest on stage. The 2001 play received rave reviews and standing ovations.
Now, 16 years later, Al Jafree sees another of his dream finally coming true – a film version of the Wilde play based on his translated script.
“I wanted my script to reach a bigger audience, and I thought a film would be the apt medium to do that.”
This time, Al Jafree is the one helming the film, Mencari Rahmat which will likely open in cinemas at the end of the year. The film also marks his d├ębut as a feature film director. In the past, he has only directed TV dramas. 
Mencari Rahmat centres on successful businessman Razak, the adopted son of a rich couple who died in a car crash, leaving him to look after his adoptive parents’ only granddaughter, his niece Ratna.
However, Razak is also a hard-partying ladies man, which he has kept hidden from Ratna. Whenever Razak needs to visit the big city for some wild party fun, he tells Ratna that he is going to see his troublesome younger brother Rahmat. In reality, Rahmat does not exist.
However, one lie leads to another, and Razak’s charade slowly gets exposed, culminating in a hilarious case of mistaken identity.
Playing Razak is veteran actor Namron.  Others in the cast include Amerul  Affendi, Nadia Aqilah,  Sharifah Amani, Fauziah Nawi, and  Azman Hassan.
As to the relevance of Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest in these modern times, Al Jafree says: “There is a saying that a man is born free but everywhere he goes, he is in chains. The play captures this saying aptly. There are a lot of things we don’t do because we are afraid society will judge us. Society is the worst prison known to mankind.”
Al Jafree cites the example of unwed mothers who kill their infants the moment they are born.
“The mothers kill their children not because they do not love their babies,” he says.
“[They] kill them because they are afraid  society will judge them  harshly.”   
While the Bahasa  Malaysia version of this play performed on stage was a smashing success, it might not work on screen. 
Al Jafree is willing to take the risk, adding: “When a young filmmaker named George Lucas wanted to film his space opera Star Wars, not many peoplewere keen [on it].  In the end, he managed to
make the film with a modest budget. Now look at how Star Wars has grown.
“The same  scepticism was shown to Steven Spielberg when he wanted to make Jawsand to Francis Ford  Coppolla who  wanted to make The Godfather
“Their films are now iconic in Hollywood. We need a certain kind of courage if we want to make  positive changes in the  Malaysian film industry.” 
Al Jafree also points to directors like the late Akira Kurosawa who had adapted well-known plays like William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and King Lear into  Japanese films. He adds that it is about time the  Malaysian film industry follow suit

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Rizal Hallim & Lurking Woods


Malaysian director Rizal Halim has just directed an Australian suspense thriller, Lurking Woods  and he speaks to theSun about his experience. The story was published in theSun today. Read the full the story here 

Headline: A Dream Come True 
By Bissme S
 

Malaysian director Rizal Halim has just  directed his first feature film, an Australian suspense thriller movie titled Lurking Woods.
Opening in cinemas here on April 6, the RM1.2 million movie follows a group of six  university students who are  seeing each other again after a year apart. They then decide to spend a weekend in a cabin in the woods. Unknown to them, a masked man has been spying on them from the moment they arrive. One by one, the friends are slowly killed off.The movie stars Daniel Berenger, Hope Devaney, Troy Coward, Dominique Shenton, Kyle James Sargon, Chloe Brown and Michael Rainone. 
Rizal promises plenty of twists and turns in the movie to keep the audience in suspense.
“I use the rustic landscape of Australia to add an air of eeriness to the scene,” says this actor-turned-director.
“The landscape is one of the attractions in the film.”    
He also believes that since the movie is in English, he has an easier access to worldwide distribution. Rizal, who was born in Batu Gajah in Perak, attributed his interests in the arts to his parents.
“My mother was a teacher and she started a theatre club in the school where she was teaching and I was a student there,” he recalls.
The theatre club went on to compete in several performing arts competitions and he believes that was where he caught the acting bug. His late father, who was also a teacher, loved photography. 
“I remembered he had many cameras,” says Rizal, adding that his father’s interest sparked a similar passion in him for photography as well as using the camera to tell stories.
Rizal went on to act in several Malaysian films and television productions. He even had a chance to appear in Hollywood movies such as Beyond Rangoon and Anna &  the King. Over the years, he started writing film scripts and taking short courses in film
directing.
In the meantime, to support his passion, he took on other jobs such as a temporary teacher, a bank employee, a deejay in shopping malls and even as a manager of two cinemas.
“I was watching a lot of movies when I was managing the cinemas,” he recalls with a laugh.
“I remember watching Jurassic Park 76 times! As time passed, I realised that I did not want to just watch movies, I wanted to make them.”   
In 2014, he co-directed with M. Jamil on the Malaysian cult movie, Dia.Then, he worked as a director of photography for the short film, Still Life,about a forced marriage.The short was shown at the Cannes Film Festival the same year.
His friend, Malaysian-born Rod Manikam who has a production house in Australia, heard of his small success at Cannes and wanted to watch the short. 
“I met Rod for the first time 10 years ago when we were acting in a Malaysian Chinese-language film called Hired Killers,” says Rizal.
“We both played policemen and became friends after that.” 
Rod was impressed with Still Life and the next thing Rizal knew, the two of them were in discussion to make a film together, which led to Lurking Woods.
Rizal is already working on his second film, again set in Australia, called Tainted Getaway.It also has an Australian cast. This romantic action film centres on a Russian girl who comes to the Australian city of Perth to suprise her boyfriend working there. She gets a rude shock when she learns that her boyfriend has been cheating on her. At the same time, a prison convict who is on the run after escaping from the police, takes the girl as a hostage. Slowly, a romance develops between the hostage and e kidnapper.
Things seem to be going well for Rizal but he admits: “My road to success has not been an easy one. There were a lot of disappointments, failures and obstacles. But you can’t let them break you. They are supposed to make you strong.”

In t

Monday, March 20, 2017

Bade Azmi & Sindiket



Today theSun published my interview with Bade Azmi who speaks about his film Sindiket that deals with the controversial topic of  human trafficking 

Headline: Trafficking In Pain 
By Bissme S

Director Bade Azmi daringly tackles the dark and risky topic of human trafficking in his latest film, Sindiket . 
“A lot of Malaysian police action movies feature the subject of drugs,” explains the 52-yearold. 
“I wanted to be different.” 
Opening in cinemas on April 6, the RM3 million movie centres on Inspector Rudy (played by Sharnaaz Ahmad) and Inspector Sabrina (Daphne Iking), who are trying to bring down a crime organisation under the evil Galang (Rashidi Ishak), who specialises in human trafficking. 
At the same time, the film depicts what happens to the victims of human trafficking, by following two college girls Amira (Sharifah Amani) and Noreen (Liyana Jasmay), who are kidnapped and lured into prostitution. 
Before writing the screenplay, and as a part of his research, Bade (right) watched many documentaries and read a lot of reports on human trafficking. 
“From my research, I learned that human trafficking is the second highest crime committed, after drug trafficking, in the world,” he says.  
“There is a lot of money to be made from human trafficking, and that motivates many crime organisations to get involved. I would not be surprised that in the future, human trafficking may even [overtake] drug trafficking as the most committed crime.” 
While it is a major part of his film’s plot, Bade explained that he wants to dispel the commonly-held view that human trafficking is all about kidnapping young girls and forcing them into prostitution. “Human trafficking is more than just about young girls being duped into prostitution and sex,” he says. 
“Sometimes, people of all ages, including children, get kidnapped and killed for their organs. Some are forced [into slave labour]. 
“Human trafficking is a painful subject. People are forced to do things that they do not like. The way I see it, human trafficking is modern-day slavery.” 
Despite tackling such dark themes, Bade has made sure Sindiket has enough fast-paced action scenes to keep the audience entertained. 
“I want my audience to be aware of this issue, but I also want them to enjoy the film,” he says. 
“I do not want to present a documentary. I have to balance the seriousness of the subject with the entertainment value.” 
Bade is more than familiar with what it takes to produce a good action film, having helmed acclaimed productions such as KL Menjerit (2002), Gangster (2005) and Castello (2006). 
He says: “Some people have the impression that when you make an action film, you do not 
[that] all you need are fast-paced action scenes. 
“Let me tell you that they are wrong. Good movies are all about emotions and the only way you can stir emotions in your audience is if you have a strong storyline. If you look back at my movies, you will see that I always have a strong storyline [in them].” 
Bade also talked about another one of his films, which is currently showing in cinemas – the historical biopic Kanang Anak Langkau, The Iban Warrior.  This film is based on the true story of decorated war hero and Iban warrior Sergeant Kanang Anak Langkau, who bravely fought the communists during the insurgency period from the 1960s to 1980s.  
 “All my previous films are fiction except for this one,” he says. 
“I have to make sure I do not run away from the facts. The last thing I want to do is to bastardise history.” 
Bade wishes he could have spoken to Kanang himself as part of research for his movie but unfortunately, the warrior passed away in 2013. Bade instead did the next best thing, and interviewed some of the soldiers who served under Kanang’s command. He even spoke to the late 
sergeant’s family members. 
“I wanted to get an [idea] of what this man was like,” he says. 
Bade even managed to persuade the war hero’s youngest son, Corporal Langgi Anak Kanang – himself a soldier – to play his father in the film. Others in the cast include Adi Putra, Johan Asari, Zach XFactor, Adam Shahz, Livonia Guing and Ruzana Ibrahim. 
“This movie is about people who made sacrifices so we have a safer nation,” he says. 
“Only when we have a safe nation, we can progress, and we can have development. We must never take our safety and our freedom for granted.”  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Deborah Chan & Live to Last


Yesterday theSun published my interview Deborah Chan who had give up her high paying corporate job to help the needy. Read the full story below 

Headline: Giving Up For The Needy 
By Bissme S

In 2014 , Deborah Chan  and husband Terence Ooi left their high paying corporate jobs and cozy lifestyle in Kuala Lumpur and, together with their one-year-old son Seth, moved to the rural countryside of Battambang in Cambodia. 
“My husband and I wanted to take a year off from our jobs and make a commitment to philanthropy,” says Chan, 35, who was in the tourism industry, while her husband, 34, was with an IT company. 
Partnering with an international NGO in Cambodia, the couple decided to help build four literacy centres for village children who otherwise would not have a chance to be educated. The project was supposed to be for a year, but the couple extended their stay for another year.  
“What we did, did not make sense to a lot of people,” says Chan, who studied for a degree in journalism in Perth, Australia.  
 “We were making good money and climbing the corproate ladder. We had just become parents. Most people in our shoes would probably stay on with their corporate jobs and enjoy the benefits. But our need to contribute, to make society a better place, was far stronger, so we took the risk to come out from our comfort zone. You do not have to wait until your hair turns grey to do good things.” 
Chan, who has over 12 years of experience in community development projects and mission works, knew she would meet resistance from friends and family. 
“But in the end, I received more support than resistance,” she says. Adjusting to life in a foreign land – and to their roles as philanthropists – was not easy. They had to go through many lifestyle changes. For starters, they had to use motorbikes and bicycles to get around, instead of the cars they were used to driving. 
“Grocery shopping felt like a chore, and I often returned home sticky, sweaty and covered with dust,” she recalls. 
There were also issues with the house they rented in Cambodia. It was vacant a year before Chan and her family move in, and as a result, creepy crawlies had taken residence. 
“There were giant spiders the size of my palm, and snakes and scorpions in the garden,” she says. 
They could not enjoy any privacy in their own home either. They had to open their doors to visiting volunteers from overseas. In the end, they got used to sharing their home with total strangers.       “When you open your world to many people, you will have many meaningful friendships and conversations,” she says. 
In the end, all their sacrifices were worth it, when they saw their work had brought tremendous joy to the children. Now, Chan and her husband are back in Malaysia, where they were supposed to resume their professional careers. But that did not happen either. They have embarked on yet another philanthropy project. Based in Kota Kinabalu this time, they are working with NGOs to educate and mentor children and youths in rural areas.  
Chan explains that most of the children do not live near their school, and they would spend two hours to travel to school, and another two hours to get home. So they decided to raise funds to build a hostel near the schools for the children, who will only return home on weekends. 
“For those parents who cannot afford to pay [the hostel fees], we have a barter system with them,” she says. 
“Since most of them are farmers, they will give us what they plant. For those parents who are not farmers, they can offer their services to the hostel, such as cooking and cleaning.”
Chan has set down all their experiences in a memoir, Live to Last. Describing the reason for writing the book, Chan says: “My memoir describes the life lessons I have learned. I believe in the power of storytelling, and its ability to inspire people. 
“I hope my memoir will inspire readers to learn [from] my life lessons and craft their own journey with less U-turns.” 
An interesting chapter describes one experience when she was 18 and an intern with an organisation called Metro Ministries International in New York, which provides education to troubled street children. It was 2001, and she was a witness to the collapse of the World Trade Centre on 9/11. 
“I was at the World Trade Centre just a week before the tragedy, as a tourist and snapping pictures,” she recalls.  
She has not forgotten the nightmarish scene, and believe life has given her a second chance. Hence, she wants to dedicate herself to help and inspire others. 
When asked who inspired her, Chan cites her late grandmother Ruby. 
“She loved telling me the stories of her life. She was a midwife who would travel from one village to another to deliver babies. She would give her services for free to those who could not afford to pay. 
“I will always be indebted to my grandmother for her kindness, and her passion for telling stories." 

Footnote : Live to Last is available at major bookstores at RM35.90



Monday, March 6, 2017

Jins Shamsuddin Remembered

The well known Malaysian actor, director and producer Jins Shamsuddin passed away recently. As a tribute piece to the legendary Jins Shamsuddin, I have reproduce an interview I have done with him years ago where he talks about his experience making the historical epic Bukit Kepong. 

Headline:A Warrior of a Man
By Bissme S

On March 1, the Malaysian movie industry lost a talent who had beensynonymous with modern films –Tan Sri Jins Shamsuddin, who died age 81.
A veteran actor of nearly 50 films and director of 10, Jins is best 
remembered for his 1981 iconic film, Bukit Kepong, that was based on a true event that took place during the Malayan Emergency.
On Feb 23, 1950, some 180 members of the Malayan Communist Party attacked a police station in Bukit Kepong, Johor, manned by 18 policemen who defended the station and the civilians until the end.
Jins not only played the leading role of Sergeant Jamil Md Shah but also directed and produced the film, which went on to win eight awards at the third Malaysian Film Festival, including for best film, best director and best actor. The film has since been remastered into high definition in 2015.
Years ago, I managed to get Jins to share his experience on his epic
movie in an interview published in theSun on Aug 30, 1999.
To me, what he said about his experience acting, directing and producing Bukit Kepong summed up the man that he was and the legend he would become.Here is an excerpt of that interview in Jins’ own words:

“For six years, the script by the police authorities was floating around. No producer dared to take on the project. A big budget was required for the movie and there was no assurance that it would
succeed at the box office.
“The then Inspector of Royal Malaysia Police (Tun Mohammed Hanif Omar) approached me. I had been making family dramas such as Menanti Hari Esok, Tiada Esok Bagimu, Esok Masih Ada, among others whose successes led other producers to jump onto the bandwagon.
“Eager to set another trend, I agreed to make Bukit Kepong. Filming began in 1980. The cast and crew of more than 400 people spent more than six months at Bukit Kepong. I was the first to arrive and the last to leave.
“During those days, there were no hotels around the place. Everybody stayed at the mosque and in private houses. I turned the Penghulu complex into a big office where I stayed and worked.
“The budget for the film was RM1.3 million. It was a huge budget in 1980. I had to take a loan from the bank. To rebuild the whole village for the set alone cost RM80,000. I was taking a huge gamble.
“Luckily, the movie collected more than RM1.7 million at the box office. Many people returned for a second viewing. It also attracted the non-Malay crowd.
“The police were very supportive and supplied 40,000 blank ammunition and 400 varieties of guns for the filming. They even assigned 180 Chinese policemen to act in the movie [and] provided security arrangements for the film crew.
“But I had difficulty getting Bukit Kepong’s Chinese residents to act as extras.They felt the movie would be a negative portrayal of their ancestors who had helped the communities under threats of death.
“I played the part of Sergeant Jamil and suffered a scar across
my stomach from some blank bullets. My mother passed away during the filming so I had to rush back to Taiping for the funeral.
“I also had problem with the censorship board. They did not like the idea of Malay and Chinese at war and suspended the film.
“My office in Kuala Lumpur was located at Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, near the golf course where the [then] Yang DiPertuan Agong [Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang] played. The Agong used to drop by my office. I took the opportunity to mention the Bukit Kepong suspension.
“Upon his Majesty intervention, the Home Minister agreed to release the film on two conditions.The first was the inclusion in the film a preamble by a notable figure to talk about the incident. I managed to get our first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman to do it.
“Second, the movie must only be shown after the elections. Bukit Kepong was completed in 1980 but only hit the cinemas in 1982. After the movie was completed, three surviving policemen confirmed it was a very accurate portrayal of the event.
“I wanted it to be screened in the Asia Pacific Film Festival. But the jury thought it was unsuitable.”
Jins had intended to make another patriotic movie, Pasir Salak, based on the murder of the first British Resident J.W.W. Birch in Perak.
According to him, most of our history was written from the British
point of view and he wanted to show this incident from our local viewpoint.
“The Pasir Salak Project faced many hurdles along the way. One of the biggest was the budget. Some British producers agreed to pump in RM120 million but they wanted a change the storyline.
“They wanted to portray Birch as the hero and the Malay community as barbaric. I disagreed and even threatened to sue if they went ahead and made the movie based on my script.”
Sadly, Jins was never able to turn his Pasir Salak Project into a reality.Nevertheless, his contribution to the Malaysian Film industry will never be forgotten. Rest in peace, Jins. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

LiteraCity


Today theSun highlights my interview with Zikri Rahman, Nurul Aizam and Ridhwan Saidi on their interesting project LiteraCity: Kuala Lumpur  Literary Fragments

Headline: Turning the Pages On KL City 
By Bissme S

OUR NATION’S capital, Kuala Lumpur, takes centrestage in a unique new publication that is the brainchild of local writers Zikri Rahman, Nurul Aizam and Ridhwan Saidi. 
LiteraCity: Kuala Lumpur  Literary Fragments is their attempt to depict the city through the lens of Malaysian literature, focusing on novels, short stories, poems and plays. 
“We hope that the book will excite readers to hold open discussions about [the nature of] our city,” Zikri says. 
“We are trying to explore the connection between space and 
literature. We are looking at how imagination helps to [create] a place. We wanted to do re search [that we could] share with the masses, not just with  academics.” 
Zikri was the one who came up with the idea, and Ridhwan and Nurul joined him on the project, which took about a year to complete.  
Both Ridhwan and Zikri contributed their own essays to the book. They also interviewed about 30 local artists, writers and activists to discuss these luminaries’ favourite literary works that featured Kuala Lumpur. Unfortunately, due to space constraints, they were only able to include 10 interviews in LiteraCity. 
Despite this, the book managed to reference or discuss 150 works of literature spanning 45 years, from 1970 to 2015. It is the team’s hope that LiteraCity will help shine a light on some of the more obscure titles mentioned, and perhaps even encourage readers to search these works out. 
Zikri added that the team was unable to include works in languages other than Bahasa Malaysia or English, because the team “lacked the mastery” of other languages. 
I found the interviews in the book very intriguing and eyeopening. To me, the best is the interview with national laureate A. Samad Said, in which he gives an insight into his early years as an author. 
A. Samad says: “During my time, the writer is first a journalist. Becoming a journalist makes it easier to reflect on events and meet people. From there, we shape it into drama, short stories, poems and we insert our thoughts, opinions and messages.” 
He also shares his own memories of the city, including why a certain location in Kampung Baru is known  colloquially as Jambatan Gesel, and even recalled when his own “mischievous nature” drove him to explore the notorious ‘belakang mati’ (dead-end) areas in Kuala Lumpur, where he would talk to prostitutes. 
In another interview, writer and literary critic Chuah Guat Eng points out the tendency for writers of novels set in contemporary Kuala Lumpur to touch on crime and co rruption. She adds that in her own stories, she uses the city as a metaphor. In her early writing, the city is used to illustrate the impact development has had on the environment. 
Meanwhile, award-winning author Wan Nor Azriq in his interview describes a short story that caught my attention – Dari Luar Kurungan by Razak Mamat. The plot centres on the main character who visits Zoo Negara and feels pity for the caged animals. He then opens all the cage doors to allow the animals to escape. Azriq also mentions Roslan Jomel, whose short stories focus on characters in the city who feel isolated and alienated. 
Publisher Amir Muhammad, in his interview, points out two plays by Jit Murad – Gold Rain and Hailstones, which focuses on the lives of the rich, young urban folk, as well as A Flight Delayed, which takes place at KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport).   Amir adds that A Flight Delayed could very well be the first play to take place in KLIA. 
Controversial author Faisal Tehrani also appears in LiteraCity, where he discusses his short story, Perempuan Anggerik, which touches on the racial riots that took place in Kuala Lumpur in 1969. He recalls: “I relied on my mother’s stories when she [was] working at Kuala Lumpur Hospital. She would tell me about staying back to handle the emergency cases.” 
LiteraCity is an unflinching look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of Kuala Lumpur. Nurul, who edited the book, points out that readers can see the changes in the landscape of Kuala Lumpur over the four decades, through the works mentioned in the interviews. 
“I cannot see the KL the same way any more after getting involved in this project,” she says. 
“I can [now] feel the richness of KL. I can feel [the city] is more vibrant.”

Footnote : LiteraCity is now available at most bookstores at RM30.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Adiwiraku

Film director Eric Ong talks to theSun about his first feature film Adiwiraku that tells a true story of a teacher making difference in the live of her students .... Read the full story here


 
 Headline: To Gigku With  Love 
By Bissme S

CHERYL ANN FERNANDO left the comfort of her home in Kuala Lumpur to teach English in a rural school in Sungei Petani, Kedah, from 2013 to 2015. She faced countless problems such as poverty, absenteeism, and family conflicts among her students. Despite all that, she was determined to help her students overcome their fear of speaking in English. To give them more
confidence, she set up an English Choral Speaking team to take part in a competition.
“She was teaching high school students who could not even spell properly,” says 52year-old Eric Ong, who was so inspired by her determination that he turned her struggles into a film, Adiwiraku.  The two-hour biopic opens in cinemas on March 9.
Ong adds: “Instead of just complaining and [trying to shift responsibility], she took matters into her own hands and found ways to change the situation for the better. Her story is very inspirational. 

"Today, our society is filled with critics and complainers. They are eager to point out the flaws in our system, in our laws, and in our society.  Criticism and complaints do not lead anywhere. We should be more like Cheryl Ann.
“Whenever we see a flaw, instead of just  complaining and  criticising, perhaps we should find  solutions to make the  situation better.”
Playing Cheryl Ann in Adiwiraku is local model and actress Sangeeta Krishnasamy. Others in the cast include Xavier Fong, Wan Azlyn, Farra Safwan, Ahmad Adnin Zidane, Irdina Tasmin, Balqis Sani, and Rizal Fahmi. Ong has also cast some of Cheryl Ann’s real-life students in the film.
“I [gave] them some acting workshops before they faced the camera,” he says.
“They were excited to be in the film. They were telling their own story. I was really satisfied with their performances.
“It’s a unique  experience for me to have people playing themselves in a biopic that I am directing. It is an experience that I will  treasure for the rest of my life.”
What about the real Cheryl Ann?
“She visited the set during filming,” Ong said.
“She was making sure my production team and I did not abuse her students (laughs).
“She cried after  watching the film. I am sure the  audience will cry, too.”
Ong recalls his favourite scene in Adiwiraku where a student, who has been missing Cheryl Ann’s classes for the last three months, suddenly reappears. The hardworking and brilliant student  easily catches up on what she has  missed in her absence.
“Then, the student goes missing again,” Ong says.
“This time, Cheryl Ann manages to track her  working at a gas station. She keeps reminding the girl about the importance of education in order for her to have a better future.
“Then, the student shocks Cheryl Ann with one question: ‘Have you ever gone without food for three days?’
“The student adds: ‘If I die from starvation, what future will I have?’ “Her answer leaves Cheryl Ann speechless. We cannot understand someone’s misery till we live in their shoes.”
Adiwiraku is Ong’s first feature film. He has more than 15 years of experience working in Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia producing television programmes ranging across various genres. Ong studied films at Universiti Malaya. He has always wanted to be a filmmaker.
But it was his grandfather who first instilled the love for films in him. “During my school  holidays, I would stay with my grandfather,” says the Malaysian-born Ong, who has been living in Singapore for the last 10 years.  
“There was a cinema behind my grandfather’s house, so my grandfather and I would go watch films almost every day.”
The young Ong even befriended Ali, the cinema’s ticket collector, who secretly allowed him into the cinema for free several times.
“Ali even brought me to see what was going on behind the big screen,” he says.
“I even got to watch some movies ‘backwards’.”
Ong is now planning to direct his second feature film, another biopic that takes place in Sarawak. He refuses to reveal too much about the film, especially on its subject. 
“All I can say is that my film will highlight an inspiring story that touches on racial harmony,” he says with a smile.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Arifin Putra & Reza Rahadian


Today theSun published my interview with two award winning actors from Indonesia, Arifin Putra and Reza Rahadian. Read the full story below

Headline: Actors without Boundaries
By Bissme S

AWARD-WINNING Indonesian actors Arifin Putra and Reza Rahadian were in Bangkok recently to promote the second season of the HBO Asia series, Halfworlds. They were the only actors from the first season to return to the show, reprising their roles as demons who regard the human race as their number one enemy.
Asked what made him take up the role again, Arifin, 29, joked: “The producers forced me at gunpoint to reprise my role.”
But he admitted to having grown fond of the story, and loving the whole universe that the cast and crew built up last year.
“So when they asked me to return for season two, I did not have to think long to say yes.”   
When asked what is the difference between the two seasons, he said: “In season one, the characters are driven by fear, whereas in season two, [they] are driven by hope.”
His character, Barata, is also less grim and more optimistic in the new season.
For Reza, 29, what he loves most about Halfworlds is that he got the chance to work with actors from other Asian countries. In season one, he worked alongside actors from Malaysia and Singapore while in this season, he shared the screen with actors from Thailand and the Philippines.    
“There is a lot of ‘cross culture’ taking place on the set, and I love that,” Reza said.
“I want to be an actor without boundaries.” 
He added that his character, Tony, has far more intense action scenes this time around. Interestingly, both actors had initially never wanted to make acting their career. Arifin had followed his older sister to a television commercial shoot in 2000, and was asked to become an extra.
“I loved the fact that I could earn pocket money while having fun,” he said. 

That experience sparked his interest in pursuing a career in the
entertainment scene. After seven years in television, Arifin made his film debut in the Indonesian romantic comedy, Lost in Love, in 2008.
But the roles that really shot him to stardom were that of a psychopathic cannibal in Macabre(2009), and his turn as the overly-ambitious son of a mob boss in The Raid 2: Berandal (2014).
As for Reza, he had wanted to be a national swimmer. When this dream failed to materialise, he took up acting seriously.
Like Arifin, Reza started his acting career on television before
taking on film roles.  The role that put him on the map was that of former Indonesian President B.J. Habibie in Habibie & Ainun(2012), and its prequel,Rudy Habibie(2016).
To get into the skin of his character, Reza spent more than seven hours interviewing the former president. The actor is also rumoured to be taking on the role again a third time in a future film.
Aside from their nationality and acting backgrounds, both actors
also share a mixed parentage. Reza’s dad is Iranian and his mum, Indonesian.  
“I never had any kind of conflict [about] whether I’m Iranian or
Indonesian,” he said.
“Since I was born and [raised] in Indonesia, I’m Indonesian.”
But it was different for Arifin who was born in Mainz, Germany,
before moving to Jakarta at the tender age of three.
“For the Germans, I was not German enough, and for the Indonesians, I am not Indonesian enough,” he lamented.
Initially, Arifin was confused about his identity. But with time, he
learned to appreciate the diversity of his heritage. 
The two said that the competition between actors in Indonesia is intense but healthy.
“It gives you a reason not to stay in your comfort zone, and you will always be learning and improving,” said Reza.  
But they lamented the fact that the same old faces are dominating
the film awards, and said the Indonesian film industry is in dire
need of new blood to inject excitement and prolong its longevity.     
Reza pointed out that many young actors prefer to act in television series because they get paid more compared to films.
However, he said: “In television, when one role makes you famous,
you will be [typecast]. You will keep doing the same old stuff on
television. You do not push yourself out of your comfort zone.
“In films, you have a chance to play a variety [of roles].” 
Reza stressed that one needs to be a little patient to enjoy the
rewards that films can give, and sadly, patience is one thing missing
from the younger generation of actors.
Arifin added that some producers are only keen to hire actors who have many followers on social media.
“It is sad if an actor get chosen for a role [just] because he has high
number of [followers], and not because of his talent,” he said.
“You must understand you may have thousands of followers in your social media, but it does not necessarily translate into money. They may not necessarily buy tickets to your films.”  
As for their future plans, Reza expressed a desire to sit in the
director’s chair – he has already helmed three short films – while
Arifin wants to be a film producer. 

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)