Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ramuan Rahasia article in The Sun

Read the article here, published by The Sun, Malaysia's no 1 English newspaper. (The article is republished below) Original articles can be found here and here.

The Missing Ingredient
Singapore’s first Malay film in almost four decades has hit a snag
by Bissme S

After a nearly 40-year gap, Singapore is going to produce its first Malay feature film entitled Ramuan Rahasia (The Missing Ingredient).

The man behind this project is Singapore’s award-winning television director Sanif Olek. Ramuan Rahasia is his first feature film though he has directed several shorts and a handful of TV productions.

Ramuan Rahasia centres on a lonely elderly man, Pak Harun (played by Malaysian actor Rahim Razali), who lives in a big house in Pasir Ris with a live-in nurse-cum-maid called Murni.

The bitter old man complains about Murni’s cooking and tries to send her back to Indonesia. Eventually, it is her cooking that is instrumental in reconciling father and son.

The film also stars Aidli ‘Alin’ Mosbit, Rafaat Hamzah, Asnida Daud, J.A. Halim, Aminah Ahmad, Hasyimah Hamidon and Aaron Aziz.

"The Malay voice in Singapore is under-represented," Sanif, 40, says in an exclusive interview in Singapore recently. "Through Ramuan Rahasia, I hope to give a voice to my community here."

While Singapore has produced several feature films in English and Chinese, and even one in Tamil, not a single Malay film has emerged from the republic over the past four decades or so.

Indeed, Sanif is creating a milestone in the Singapore movie scene with this film, which is ironic on hindsight, as it was in Singapore that the Malay film industry was born.

The first Malay film was Laila Majnun (1933), directed by B.S. Rajhans and produced by the Singapore-based Motilal Chemical Company from Bombay.

Over time, the industry grew especially with the entry of the Shaw brothers (Run Run and Runme Shaw) from Hongkong in 1937 and the setting-up of their Malay Film Productions company. Later, a rival studio, Cathay-Keris Film Production, added to the number of Malay films being produced.

The golden age of the Malay film industry came after the World War II in the 1950s and early 60s which saw the birth of such glamorous and talented stars as our very own P. Ramlee, Siput Sarawak and Maria Menado.

But the advent of television soon put paid to the industry’s growth and in 1967, the Shaw Brothers closed down their studios in Singapore.

A few years later, in 1973, Cathay-Keris Film Production released its last film, Satu Titik Di-Garisan, marking an end to Malay film production onnthe island. The industry then shifted its operations to Kuala Lumpur.

The 1990s saw a revival of the Singapore film industry with emerging Singaporean filmmakers such as Eric Khoo and Jack Neo directing English, Chinese and Tamil films, but no Malay feature films – until now.

Sanif has completed 65% of Ramuan Rahasia using his own money but he is running short of funds.

He is now looking for new financing to complete the film, budgeted at S$350,000 (RM828,554), but he says it has not been an easy ride.

He admits the "big guns" are apprehensive about funding his film because they are afraid the movie might not be a success.

"There is always apprehension when something is not tested," he says, adding that he will have a better chance in getting investors’ attention if he was directing an English or Chinese movie.

"I grew up in a Malay environment in Singapore," he says. "If I make my film in Malay, it’ll sound more sincere. I’m not interested in making superficial films.

"Ultimately, this is not a wholly Malay film. It is a Singapore film. The theme is universal and even people in Africa can relate to it."

Sanif first became interested in film in a roundabout way. A camera he received as a gift from his father when he was a child triggered his passion for photography, and later moving pictures.

In 1996, he graduated from Singapore’s premier film school, the Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s Department of Film, Sound & Video. He went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in media from Murdoch University’s highly-reputable School of Media, Communication & Culture, in Perth, Australia.

Sanif’s first short film, Lost Sole (Love Trilogy 1), in 2005 was screened in over 30 international film festivals from Hawaii, San Francisco, New York, St Petersburg and Montreal to Teheran.

It was in competition in eight of these film festivals and won two in 2008 – for best film on religion at the International Festival of Short Films on Culture (Jaipur, India) and best narrative film at Rahmat International Shortfilm Festival (Tabriz, Iran).

His second short, A La Folie (Love Trilogy 2), which premiered at the 27th San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival in March 2009, was voted best short film at the 4th Jogja-Netpac Asian Film Festival that year.

Sanif says his works generally portray the theme of love and caring. "This theme has always appealed to me. I always get puzzled when people say they love you and care for you, then the next minute, they disappoint you."

Thank you Bissme for the great article.

NOTE: This film is still incomplete and appeals for funds/donations to finish the remaining 35% of shoot.
The Sun (23 March 2010)