During Ramadhan, we were invited to dinner with the cast and crew of The Red Kebaya. Along with that came an invitation to the premiere at MidValley, for which I took the day off from my day job to attend.
Before the movie started, Sandra Sodhy (TRK’s PR and publicist) said a few words, with a few lines reminding viewers to switch their mobile phones to silent mode. Well obviously Malaysians are going deaf. No matter how many times we are reminded to put our phones on silent mode, or NOT to answer phone calls during the movie, or NOT to constantly kick the back of the seat in front of you, we NEVER listen. And this was a preview screening, by invitation only, with the producers, directors, actors in the cinema hall. But some dumb fucks just cannot show respect by NOT giving road directions to his geographically-challenged friend in the middle of the movie. Twice. Very smart. If this were my movie, I’d fucking tie you up and feed you to the Sarlacci.
And so the story begins…
Latiff (RAMLI HASSAN). Photographer. City dweller, successful fella. Orphaned. Blocked memories from childhood. Went ahead to take photos of abandoned buildings around Malaysia as part of his next project. Saw visions of two kids, one of them who was also…
Latiff (MOHD. AFIF), a little boy whose mother was…
Azizah (VANIDAH IMRAN), a hot divorced/widowed joget girl who encountered and fell in love with…
John (BOB MERCER), an English expat who loved everything about Malaysia (the food, the people, the culture, the heat etc) and of course, loved Azizah. John was unfortunately married to…
Davinia (SAMANTHA SCHUBERT), who hated everything John loved about Malaysia, including Azizah. When she found out about the her husband’s feelings for Azizah, ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ pretty much described Davinia.
Other notable names in the movie are: Patrick Teoh, Zahim Al Bakri, Elaine Daly, Paula Malai Ali, Sabera Shaik, Jo Kukuthas and Fauziah Nawi (who had a very short but most memorable role, that is if you could recognise her in the movie ).
Because everyone likes lists, here’s one:
- The Red Kebaya producers are Andre Berly and Ramli Hassan, and the director is Oliver Knott
- The Red Kebaya was shot entirely in Malaysia. They did the dolby-dolby stuff and show prints in Australia. Post-production stuff were completed at ADDAudio, a Malaysian studio
- Bob Mercer had just 3 weeks to learn all his lines in Bahasa Malaysia
- Principal photography took 35 days
- Initially the owners of the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion were reluctant to have their premise used for filming. But after a series of meetings and much persuasion that lead them to better understand the concept of the movie, they finally allowed it
- Oliver Knott did not know what a ‘kebaya’ was prior to the movie
- The budget for TRK is RM 1.5 million. RM1.5 million can buy you 202702 packs of fags, 150000 large Big Mac meals, 3000 sets of 21″ TVs.
- RM 1,500,000 is also around USD$ 410,778. You need to top up that amount by 486 times to be able to make Spiderman 2.
- I am guessing this is a privately-funded movie, as deliverance was mostly in English. But I didn’t ask for sure.
- The producers/director set this movie around the 50s/60s, no specific time line, so they tried to create a suitable environment — visual and sound to suit that era. Was still pretty funny to see a bouncer in a black jacket outside a joget club though. Some things never change.
- The nice folks at Rising Above will be hosting a dinner charity night on Monday night at BSC… hey, that’s tonight! Plus they will also get lots of underprivileged kids to go watch TRK on Wednesday, courtesy of kind people who donate to them, so yeah it’s nice of them to do that.
My thoughts on TRK
Great poster. Excellent score/soundtrack. Beautiful cinematography. Beautiful use of locations. Some sound glitches but I understood that to be the cinema’s technical problem. Some performances were overly theatrical, don’t translate well to movies. Storyline is different from other local movies so far, which is a good thing. A couple scenes in the movie tak masuk akal; either continuity problem or just too plain odd to comprehend. Costumes were beautiful.
Vanidah Imran was damn hot. Samantha Schubert was rather good as someone you would love to hate. Bob Mercer’s character was a bit of useless lembik bugger, he did it rather well. Sometimes you just want to shout at him, BE A MAN! Patrick Teoh’s role was nice, one that you would not really appreciate until the end of the movie. Some scenes just broke my heart. Some scenes weren’t supposed to be funny, but the audience laughed anyway. Some parts a bit too corny, slow and long. Some parts scared the shit out of me. Well, I am easily freaked out what…
OVERALL, The Red Kebaya unashamedly tags itself as a love story, and it is really rather different from other Malaysian movies — the concept, the execution, the delivery and so on till the end of Kudat. I quite enjoyed myself, it was a day off well-spent, and I urge you movie-goers to go catch this movie and make up your own minds on it so we could have a discussion (before the cinemas take them off the screens much earlier, as they often do with local movies). It’s a struggle for me not wanting to reveal more of the plot as not to spoil it for those who will watch it, but so dying to talk about the content!
I posed a question during the press conference, something about why did they choose the ending they chose instead of another version, which I’d thought would be much better for closure. Oliver Knott (the director) and Ramli Hassan (co-producer and lead actor) replied that they went through several endings, but decided that the closure that I thought was good would be too predictable. Besides that angle had been played to death in other movies (literally). I guess it was a nice decision to end the movie in hope and gladness.
So if you want to know what the heck I’m talking about, go watch The Red Kebaya when it opens in Malaysian cinemas (GSC) on 23 November 2006. Be sure to catch it early, for reasons I have stated above.
Kate James (film editor and post-production supervisor) helped me to ask Andre Berly (co-producer) for permission to upload a couple of song clips from the soundtrack onto my blog. He said yes (thanks Andre and Kate!) and here they are, two songs that I really love. Very P-Ramlee Malaysian.
Music by S. Atan, lyrics by Nurul Asyikin, vocals by Sheila Abdul and Arifin Tioh.
If you would check out TRK’s site, you’ll hear a nice piano tune in the background. I absolutely love the melancholy composition, and sometimes I just leave the window open so I could listen to the tune while doing other stuff.
So, The Red Kebaya… 23 November 2006… GSC… go watch!
Other reviews (aka people who make more sense than me): Reta (and awaiting!!!)
So after the preview screening/ press conference/ excellent lunch, I was chilling at Starbucks to get something from J, and some of the cast and crew of TRK walked in, including Ramli Hassan. Our eyes met and he exclaimed, “I think I know this person!” and he came over and we hugged. We talked a little, then J helped us to take this shot.
Ramli: How much you wanna pay me for the photo?
Suanie: How much are you worth?
Ramli: For you, free lah, as long as you write about TRK!
Suanie: Wah, you so cheap!!!
Ramli: Yah I memang cheap what!
Suanie: It’s ok lah, I also cheap one.
Didn’t have to fake that one
Other reviews: Sultan Muzaffar