Until Death Do Us Part - Jonas

Rabu, Januari 28, 2009

#43. Isu : Waiting For Muallaf

20hb Januari, 2009
The New Strait Times

Yasmin Ahmad’s Muallaf has been well-received in Singapore but has not been released in cinemas here. FARIDUL ANWAR FARINORDIN speaks to the director on her plans to stage a special charity screening of the movie. FOR some strange reason, Yasmin Ahmad’s Muallaf, a heart-wrenching story about love, forgiveness and religious tolerance, has yet to hit the cinemas.

There have been talks with distributors who had expressed their interest in releasing the film which stars Sharifah Amani Syed Yahya and her sister Sharifah Aleysha, Brian Yap, Rahim Razali and Ning Baizura. But it remained just talks.
(From left) Brian Yap, Sharifah Aleysha and Sharifah Amani (hidden) in a scene from Muallaf.

The film (much to Yasmin’s delight) has just been approved for viewing, with no cuts by the Censorship Board.

“I only had to mute the dialogue in three small scenes, which does not affect the plot,” said Yasmin in an interview recently. She said Astro has plans to screen the movie.

“I don’t know if it will be released in cinemas... in a way, I don’t want it to be,” she said, recalling negative reports from certain quarters who criticised the film’s religious elements.

“From the Internet, I have learnt that people have misunderstood my intentions and started calling me names. It is disheartening. What’s more heartbreaking is that they are local folk who watched the movie in Singapore.”

While Yasmin feels sad that some in the industry are continuously trying to “bring her down”, she is relieved that Muallaf is a winner across the Causeway.

“It ran for a month there in December. Muallaf will be screened in Singapore again in February.”

Yasmin hopes to bring Muallaf to local audiences in a special charity screening for Mercy Malaysia in aid of the Palestinians. There is, however, one problem.

“I have to make another print of the movie and this costs money,” she said. As an alternative, her latest feature film, the family musical Talentime, will be screened at the corporate charity event instead.

Talentime is scheduled for release on March 26.

Starring Mahesh Jugal Kishore, Mohd Syafie Naswip, Pamela Chong, Azean Irdawaty and Jaclyn Victor, it features a beautiful soundtrack, O Re Piya, taken from Bollywood’s acclaimed love story Aaja Nachle starring Madhuri Dixit and sung by classical singer Rahat Fatheh Ali Khan.

“It’s about family and a talent competition in a rundown school. Mohd Syafie plays a teenager whose mother (Azean Irdawaty) has a brain tumour. It moves in tandem with Mahesh’s story. Mahesh’s sister is played by Jac. And then there’s Chong’s interracial family,” she said.

The special screening is open to corporate bookings (on a donation basis) because “individual ticket sales can be complicated — it deals with cash”.

“There are still seats left at the cinema that can accommodate 320 people,” said Yasmin, who will be present at the screening.

Yasmin receives regular updates on the welfare of Palestinian refugees from Mercy Malaysia president Dr Jemilah Mahmood.

“This time, it’s not about me or my work. I don’t want any credit for this (movie screening). I am just doing my part in these troubled times. I am helping to raise funds for the people of Gaza, especially women and children.”

Yasmin had heard stories from Jemilah of how “children were shot... ”

“There is also a story of children who were taken to a hospital in Egypt unconscious. When they came to, they cried, asking to go home. But there’s no home to go back to.”

If the response to the event is good, Yasmin may plan other charity screenings.

“It all depends on the availability of a cinema.”

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