On the 26th of July, Malaysians will know the love shared and lost between Othman and Thom, a married couple in a small fishing village of Melaka. In the turbulent World War 2 era, Othman is the ambitious and single-minded fisherman who seeks adventure on distant shores and loves the demure and gentle Thom, who is focused on building a life together. It is the start of a life of adventure for the both of them, but separately, as Othman leaves to seek greater fortunes for his family shortly after his son Omar is born. He is never seen again for 61 years.
Thus begins the story of Thom’s grandson who has made a sworn oath to find his grandfather’s remains, uncovering secrets and truths that may or may not ruin this family.
A month before this epic tale hits the silver screens, Primeworks Studio officially unveiled a sneak peek and glimpse into the making of this epic feature film, PULANG, directed by the widely acclaimed Kabir Bhatia. With budget of RM6 million, it is set to be the studio’s biggest film production yet and likely one of the most expensive films to come out of Malaysian cinema in recent years. Bhatia remarks on the effectiveness of this budget, “We were able to push boundaries in this project. We can re-enact historical moments with the extensive production design coupled with the advanced CGI we have.”
One of the most anticipated parts of PULANG is the storytelling, which focuses on stunning cinematography, art direction and CGI technology that truly breathe life into this production. The movie will be covering a number of distinct locations besides Melaka, which include Hong Kong, Okinawa in Japan, South Korea’s Jeju Island and Liverpool, England. Three generations of a family’s history will be told and there is no doubt that many audiences, from film critics to average theatregoers, are looking forward to how Bhatia and his team will pull this off.
The film, which is reminiscent of the story of the Greek legend of Odysseus that sails across distant seas and cruel monsters hoping to return home to his wife and son, may be fictional. (However,) but there is truth in the storyline. It is a fictional retelling of actual historical events where many Malay men were recruited as sailors on cargo ships by the British and this plays into the characters of both Othman and Thom, specifically based upon the story of Primeworks Studio CEO, Ahmad Izham Omar’s grandfather.
I’m slumped on the floor, unable to take my eyes away from this poster.
Pulang is about a man who left his poor village life to work on merchant ships, traveling the world. His wife waits for his promised return. For 61 years.
— Ahmad Izham Omar (@AhmadIzhamOmar) June 13, 2018
This unique storyline is the product of Grand Brilliance, the film production house behind PULANG and is an effort to tell the stories of Malaysia’s unsung heroes, emphasis on unsung and definitely not heard about enough. While many of these sailors make it back to Malaysia, many others also start new lives all over the world or wherever they decide to settle down. This is a story about the ones who don’t return home and likely the anxiety faced by a sailor’s lover, never knowing whether it was the sea or the arms of another woman that claimed their loves. Stories about sailors may be common in our fables and fictions, but it is lovely to see these stories get the serious screen time they deserve in Malaysian film.
The film also marks another collaboration between Bhatia and his wife Mira Mustafa, who worked with him and wrote the screenplay for his more lauded films like Cinta (2006) and Nur Kasih: The Movie (2011) and Gila Baby (2014). The story of Cinta is one of his more prominent works, winning Best Film at the 20th Malaysian Film Festival awards ceremony, as well as Best Supporting Actor (credits to Haji Rahim Razali), Best Screenplay and Best Editor.
PULANG will likely bring the same vitality and charisma from Bhatia’s previous films, this time with its diverse cast of both seasoned actors and newcomers. The character of Othman is played by Remy Ishak, named Best Actor in the 15th Skrin Awards and Best Supporting Actor later in the 21st Skrin Awards. A striking contrast is that his co-star Puteri Aishah, will be making this movie her first debut feature film. Besides that are some names you might find familiar like Azrel Ismail, Erwin Dawson, Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan, Datuk Rahim Razali, Syazuwan Hassan, Che Puan Juliana Evans and more. In order to better immerse themselves in their characters, the cast also attended acting classes conducted by Puan Fatimah Abu Bakar, who has also starred in other films by Bhatia like Cinta.
We think the legacy of PULANG will go one beyond the feature film, as the film’s original soundtrack features music from award-winning producer Aubrey Sowito who will make this movie his breakthrough in film scoring. The music will be released on Spotify leading up to the film’s release and is just another thing audiences have to anticipate for the movie. With hopeful fans and a movie that could really switch up Malaysian filmmaking, we hope to see you with us during its premiere!