AS reported last week, Astro Citra has collaborated with six well-known Malaysian directors to come up with twelve telemovies for the channel. These films — half of which were made by university students mentored by Karya 12‘s celebrated filmmakers — will go on air as of April 30.
Now what’s more exciting than a six-week film programme curated by a major network, utilising some of Malaysia’s best-known directors? Therefore we’ve compiled a bit of information on each film for your perusal as well as some notes from our team.
Have a read and make sure to vote for which one you’ll most likely want to watch!
Eropah, Aku Sampai, directed by Bernard Chauly
Bukhary (Bront Palarae) volunteers his assistance to refugees on the gorgeous island of Leros, Greece, but he’s really got his eye on some prime real estate. He comes across survivors from across the Aegean: Mahomoud (Aziz Capkurt) and Aewb (Lila Baklesi), a father and daughter who lost the rest of their family during the journey to the island. The encounter leads Bukhary to reflect on his life’s choices. Also stars Fazura.
Potential: How did Bernard shoot his film in Greece on a <RM150,000 budget? We don’t know but based on the teaser trailer, Eropah, Aku Sampai stands head and shoulders higher than the rest of Karya 12‘s offerings. It also stars recent Festival Filem Malaysia winner Fazura on top of a couple of European talents. Can we just give Bernard the push he deserves already?
Chalie, directed by Mohamad Safwan bin Mohd Salleh
Chalie (Cristina Suzanne) is a young woman who lives happily with her husband Zuhal (Akhmal Nazri) in Kuala Lumpur. Chalie’s refusal to live outside the city one day however creates cracks in their relationship, and her husband eventually moves back to the kampung with his family. This puts their relationship in limbo. Chalie moves from place to place and tries to sway her husband’s opinion but they cannot reach an agreement. Just when she’s ready to move on, a chance encounter with Zuhal leads to messy, new beginnings.
Potential: Once you remove the fact there’s a tangkap-basah scene involving JAWI, Bernard’s protegee seems like he might have something fresh in store for the rest of us. His look at an urban Malaysian relationship seems promising based on initial teasers, and we can’t wait to see the gorgeous Cristina Suzanne in a decent role.
Ghaz Abu Bakar
Lampu Merah, directed by Ghaz Abu Bakar
Anti-social Uber driver Amir (Sharnaaz Ahmad) falls in love with his regular, a young woman called Ayu (Nadia Brian). One day, Amir finally musters the courage to ask her out on a date, to which she agrees. Ayu however turns out to be a bit of a clumsy weirdo with an attitude who grows obsessed with Amir. Ayu becomes a stalker, eventually kidnapping Amir after he decides to end things with her. In Ayu’s journey to force him into marriage, Amir realises that this might very well be the woman of his dreams.
Potential: Ghaz has incredible ideas and has made some of Malaysia’s most memorable video content — Anuar Zain’s “Sesuci Cintamu” and Kaka Azraff’s “Bukan Hal Aku” among them — so we have no doubt this is going to be enjoyable at the very least. This Uber tale sounds like just the thing for him too!
Syahadah Yang Hilang, directed by Mohd Shafiq bin Shamsul Ariffin
Syahadah (Liyana Jasmay) was once put under circumstances which forced her into inheriting a saka (guardian spirit) for the sake of caring for her young son Nizam. Now that her children have grown, Syahadah is diagnosed with cancer and she foresees coming destruction should the saka remain attached to her being. She refuses to let her children inherit the spirit but Nizam is keen. At the same time, Nizam’s twin sister Siti Zubaidah resorts to healing their mother through God, while the village tries to help with modern medicine.
Potential: After the semi-success of MIG Production‘s Pelepas Saka, this one comes as no surprise but it’s interesting to see if Ghaz’s protegee will choose to focus on the horror aspect, or the battle between religion, science and customs.
Kulit, directed by Michael Ang
Bakri returns to Kelantan after ten long years, saddled with debt from a business venture gone bust. He feels low and in need of work, but must now also suffer his tense relationship with his father Usop, who manages a renowned wayang kulit troupe. Bakri’s step-sister Melati (Nabila Huda) meanwhile despises Bakri, and blames their mother’s death on the negative environment created by both men. Things take a dark turn when Usop is found dead and skinned, pushing Bakri into taking over his father’s business. Melati, who opposes the takeover, soon meets her doom, skinned, as Bakri grows increasingly invested in the art of wayang kulit. Could Bakri be responsible for all the deaths, or is it all in his mind?
Potential: We have no doubt Michael knows filmmaking, even if he’s spent his career in entertainment pandering to troublesome masses. Even the premise of Kulit sounds like it could be interesting given the right treatment. Also shhh, Michael is Astro‘s secret new project — his Hantu Rumah Sakit Jiwa and Kimchi Untuk Awak are features waiting to be unleashed under Astro Shaw!
Roti Canai Love Story, directed by Chen Yong Jiam
Ahmad (Rykarl Iskandar) is a rich nine year old who loves eating roti canai. His parents however don’t really care about him, and he doesn’t have friends. His life changes when he meets Mei (Crystal Lee), a fellow nine year old who gets the short end of the stick because of her family’s finances. Ahmad and Mei support one another and eventually become close friends. One day, a group of thugs harass Mei’s family. Ahmad tries to help but fails, though they’re eventually saved by a roti canai seller named Tayallan (Mano Maniam) and Mei’s father. Both families change and start to care for their own children more. 20 years later, Ahmad and Mei meet up at their old kampung for roti canai and revisit memory lane.
Potential: Although we roll our eyes at Karya 12‘s race-based pairings, we like that Chen Yong Jiam is one of few on this list who want to depict Malaysia’s diverse ethnic representation. His story sounds sweet and quite commercial, but we hope it’s deeper than what it appears to be — gotta get some of that arwah Yasmin Ahmad edge!
Bidadari, directed by Osman Ali
In the 60s, when society still practiced mysticism, a beautiful girl named Mayang (Tya Ariffin) is born in a small village by the edge of a river. The village folk however are staunch Muslims. Mayang falls for Nathuwi (Farid Kamil), a traveller from Southern Thailand assisting her father’s makeshift school. He reciprocates, but just as their love starts to bloom, Mayang comes across a mysterious stranger named Andaman (Beto Kusyairy), who seems to carry with him an aura of immense darkness.
Potential: Has Osman Ali lost the plot? His films have grown weaker, usually marred by derivative stories and poor styling choices. Last year’s Jwanita couldn’t break even, while Sinaran bombed with disgrace. We’re not sold yet, but surprise us, Osman, like how you used to in the very beginning. And then take a long break, watch good films, eat well, and come back better than ever.
Balapan, directed by Syahrin bin Zainurin
Lee, Shah, Am and Satiq Kumar are competitive teenagers chosen to represent Selangor on the racetrack. Put in a team, they all want to win the 4 x 100 metre race, but conflict arises when they cannot seem to get along. Due to all their fights on the track, they are separated and eventually lose their coach’s attention. The arrival of a new coach named Fairuz Nizam give the boys a new opportunity to make things work.
Potential: Banking on the recent sports craze spurred by the likes of Ola Bola, Osman’s protegee chooses to hit the field. Will running reap the same interest as soccer? And will all these young actors prove to have what it takes for a motivational sports film? Let’s just cross our fingers.
Pangkalan Batu Enam, directed by Sabri Yunus
Mimi (Fathia Latiff) has had a pretty hard time; her father hates her boyfriend’s guts and ordered for him to be killed. However, a thug leader named Bahar Jingga murders her father, and Mimi now wants to exact revenge despite her mixed feelings. She meets Li Sepila (Remy Ishak), an awkward but kind man who saves her from being mugged. They fall in love, but it is revealed that Li serves the thug leader she wants to punish. Will she choose love or vengeance?
Potential: Based on the first 45 minutes aired at the press preview, Sabri’s film looks quite raw in terms of visuals. Fathia and Remy do decent work though and there’s an air of mystery elevating the film enough to maintain attention. We’d like to know what happens to the couple!
Wau Kasih, directed by Wan Mohd Rafiq Shamsul Kamal
Pak Akob (Sabri Yunus) is a small-time fisherman who enjoys playing with the wau (traditional Malay kites). His family however believes it’s a huge waste of time and eventually blames Pak Akob for the death of their sick mother. His son, Danny (Pekin Ibrahim), leaves the village feeling betrayed by his own father, and doesn’t return for another ten years until his sister Zulaika (Sharifah Sakina) invites him to visit. Danny continuously picks on Pak Akob while in the village and chastises him for the death of his mother, pushing the old man to reveal that he makes kites to sell and support their family, and that on the day of his wife’s death, they had no supplies left at home. Pak Akob eventually dies from a heart attack in the arms of his own son.
Potential: Astro also aired 45 minutes of Wau Kasih during the preview. As expected from a typical telemovie (and from a University Utara Malaysia student) Wau Kasih is set in a kampung, telling the story of reconciliation. The wau element however seems shoehorned into the story, and overall the film seemed to go nowhere during the screening. Not helping are Sabri Yunus and Sheila Mambo cast as pitiful, old people wracked by misfortune. Acquired taste?
Yusry Abdul Halim
Rong Ples, Rong Taim, directed by Yusry Abdul Halim
Alan dan Janice are a randy couple on the way to a rendezvous at the hotel. Akmal dan Raj has just robbed a jewellery store. Chi and Bo are hotel valets who drive around a Ferrari belonging to a patron. The car crashes into Ayahanda ARKA at an intersection. All six panic when Ayahanda ARKA wants to report the incident to the police. Alan knocks Ayahanda out cold out of fear and the six hide his unconscious body in a hotel. They then split up and create accidents in other locations to strengthen their alibi and disprove Ayahanda ARKA’s claims.
Potential: Yusry’s track record at the box office is pretty impressive, and as a filmmaker he’s best known for the Cicakman series. Rong Ples, Rong Taim sounds amusing, and his incorporation of infamous celebrity activist Abdul Rani Kulup seems calculated to land a hit with the masses. This sounds like an inane comedy but we expect it to be hilarious.
Alien Janda Baik, directed by Amirul Nasrullah Bin Kamarulzaman
It’s 2013, and an extraterrestrial being crashes in an old Malaysian town. During the emergency landing, someone dies. Lacking a physical form, the alien uses the body of the dead human to adapt to Earth so it can find a way back. In the process, the alien receives all the memories its host. To escape Earth, the alien goes through a whole lot of human bodies and gathers more and more information and inadvertently memories which eclipse his own. As a result of its journey, the alien remains on Earth, no longer remembering that it was lost.
Potential: We love the concept taken by Yusry’s protegee — this is one of the most interesting concepts put forward by the Karya 12 team devoted to mass entertainers for television. Starring Luqman Hafidz of Ola Bola fame, there’s no doubt Amirul Nasrullah’s effort is brave based on the blurb, but will he have the directing chops and vision to execute it respectably?
Which telemovie are you most excited for?
Read more about Karya 12 from our past coverage and don’t forget to check out Astro Citra! Karya 12 will begin airing every Saturday and Sunday at 10:00pm from 30 April onwards, exclusively on Astro Citra (Channel 131) and Mustika HD (Channel 134).