LAST night, highly-anticipated Indonesian-Malaysian comedy My Stupid Boss premiered at Golden Screen Cinemas, Pavilion to a throng of fans hysterical over Indonesian film stars Reza Rahadian and Bunga Citra Lestari. The packed premiere even saw the likes of Fazura, Zizan Razak and Shaheizy Sam in the crowd, curious to watch their peers in celebrated Indonesian director Upi Avianto‘s latest effort.
Known for critically-acclaimed movies such as Radit & Jani (2008), Serigala Terakhir (2009) and Belenggu (2013), My Stupid Boss marks Upi’s return to comedy over twelve years after debuting with 30 Hari Mencari Cinta (2004).
The Falcon Pictures film is led by Reza as Mr. Bossman and Bunga as Diana. Supported by local actors Bront Palarae, Chew Kinwah, Atikah Suhaime and Iskandar Zulkarnain, the film also has actresses Nadiya Nisaa, Shamaine Othman and Sherry Al-Hadad in minor roles. All were present at the premiere, bar Alex Abbad who plays Diana’s husband in the film.
My Stupid Boss was shot entirely in Malaysia — immediately identifiable on-screen locations include the Prime Minister’s Office at Putrajaya, as well as Petaling Street. In the film, Mr. Bossman runs a dysfunctional company called Malaysia Sinar Berhad (MSB) which illegally employs foreigners for manual labour and also suffers from poor management.
Distributed by SKOP Production locally, the premiere also saw Dato Yusof Haslam use his time on the dais to clarify a few matters after emcee Yasmin Hani mentioned that Munafik was the top-grossing Malaysian film of all-time with RM19 million in total collections.
“Munafik made RM17 million in Malaysia and RM2 million in Singapore; the all-time local box office record is still held by Polis Evo.”
Then calling out to Zizan (who stars in Polis Evo) he cheekily added, “But if we were to take into account Singapore and Brunei, then we’ve beaten you.”
Yusof’s speech however brought to light the long tradition of Indonesian films at the local box office.
“Kita serumpun,” stated Yusof, acknowledging the cliche.
Peaking during the 60s and the 70s, Indonesian films once dominated local audiences, but reception weakened in the following decades as local filmmaking continued to improve. There was a temporary resurgence during Ada Apa Dengan Cinta in 2002, and again earlier this month with Ada Apa Dengan Cinta 2.
Can My Stupid Boss ride the wave and draw in audiences? Given the formula used in Upi’s star-studded film, many are hedging their bets on a win.
“Falcon’s combination of Malaysian and Indonesian talents should be applauded; Malaysians who watch this won’t feel like they’ve seen an Indonesian movie,” commended Yusof.
“There’s potential for Indonesian cinema to achieve the strong response it once garnered from local audiences.”
Yusof also divulged details on SKOP’s new venture — a collaboration with Falcon Pictures boasting a mixed cast akin to Upi’s film. To be finalised by the end of 2016, the upcoming project will also be shot in Indonesia.
“We are hoping to get Indonesians more familiar with the Malaysian film industry — we need to be brave in order to make change.”
Meanwhile, Reza Rahadian and Bunga Citra Lestari is paired once again after their highly-successful turn as husband and wife in the award-winning Habibie & Ainun (2012). Deeming Reza “crazy” and worthy of a Piala Citra (one of Indonesia’s highest honours for film) for his work in My Stupid Boss, she graciously thanked director Upi for their roles.
“Reza and I are usually paired in dramas, but this is our first appearance in a comedy,” she exclaimed. “We’ve gone from loving one another to fighting all the way! He’s my best friend and he’s the best actor in Indonesia.”
Reza too thanked director Upi, claiming the role was his most challenging. Requiring him to gain an additional seven kilograms to help adapt to his prosthetics more seamlessly, Reza plays Mr. Bossman. An overweight, balding, amnesiac employer — a complete 180 degrees from Reza in real life, the character often speaks in Javanese and a made-up language, resulting in an indecipherable and child-like entity on screen.
“It’s fun watching myself look ridiculous,” he laughed. “Thank God for Mbak Upi has given me this beautiful script and the chance to work with these fabulous all-Malaysian actors, especially Bront — looking forward to working with you again.”
Reza and Bront both starred in HBO Asia‘s Halfworlds, an 8-episode miniseries combining Indonesian and Malaysian talent which ran late last year. Both, along with Bunga, were handpicked by Upi for the film, while the rest went through an audition process.
“I had to go in five times,” stated actor Chew Kinwah deadpan, “I even had to suck a lollipop.”
Kinwah, who also goes by the name Anuar Chew, has been in the industry for over two decades. Known for his work in TV and film through projects such as Kopitiam, Susuk (2008), Belukar (2010) and Jejak Warriors (2015), he was thrilled to be involved in Upi’s high-profile project.
“My helper fainted when I showed her a picture of myself with Bunga.”
One of the most memorable moments of the night came in the form of a speech delivered by CEO of Falcon Pictures: the humble and unassuming HB Naveen.
“As soon as we arrived yesterday, the four of us — the producer, my friends and I — were excited about your cuisine, your curry houses. We were there like little children, and we ordered everything. The guy who owned the restaurant said, takpa, takpa, kongsi-kongsi, so we tried everything that was on the menu.”
Aside from sampling local delicacies including the musang king durian, Naveen also met with director Chiu Keng Guan and was spotted carrying a DVD copy of Ola Bola at the premiere. But throughout his short trip in Malaysia, the extraordinary young man had something in the back of his mind.
“I thank you for this beautiful hospitality but I have this small concern: sometimes we have this bridge that divides us,” he spoke on the dais. “We have to mend it with love and peace.”
Due to overwhelming response from fans and an extensive pre-show program comprising a contest, live performances and a number of speeches, the movie screening only began at 10:00pm. Members of the media however remained for the post-screening question and answer session which ran until close to midnight.
My Stupid Boss opens in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore on 19 May 2016.