Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Thank you for highlighting the plight of Malay film producers to the public. No not the plight that Malay movies aren't attracting the crowds, but the plight of the producers who have leaders like you.
Your idea for the increase in ticket prices for foreign films in order to maybe get the public to consider watching Malay movies as the ticket prices will be cheaper, is to say the least not thought out properly.
If you think Malay movies are like Air Asia you must be out of your skull. You want to tell the world :"Now everyone can watch Malay movies?".
I am quite embarrassed with the statement which have been picked up by the international press. What kind of industry do we have that we need to do this?
And I think you have also given rather generalised statements. You said it is common practice in Jakarta, and I beg to differ. Local movies in Indonesia do not get preferential treatment. If you go to Blitz or XXI cinema halls, the local films are priced similarly to the foreign movies. If you want to pay less to see local movies, you go to the cinema halls that are usually meant for local movies ONLY. These would be the kind of halls we once used to have in smaller towns.
Furthermore, I believe your proposal to be detrimental to the whole industry. If implemented, the consequences are far reaching - it may even spell the demise of the cinema industry along with it the local film industry.
In your past statements, you have always championed commercial main stream fare because you said you weren't interested in making films that win awards and do not make money at the box office. Well, most local movies do both - they don't make money and they don't win awards.
Is this a knee jerk reaction to the under performances of high profile local movies like Cicakman 2 and Antoo Fighter? If it is, that you have done wrong. Being the President of PFM you should be concerned about the bigger picture of our film industry, not just to salvage the pride of under performing local movies produced by a few.
I also need to ask you or rather PFM. You have been receiving 2 percent of all box office receipts from local movies - whether they make money or not. This percentage is from the tax rebates you get from the state arranged by FINAS.
As far as I know, this has been happening for at least ten years. I am not sure of the amount, but it should be substantial. What has happened to this fund which I believe was supposed to have helped the local film industry - development, education and promotion at least.
Can I know the amount PFM has received and what it has been used for? I hope not to pay for travel for association members to international film festivals. As producers who can afford to pay millions to produce movies, they should be able to pay for their own travel expenses.
Finally, I do hope that PFM retract that statement which I believe was done without the support of the members of PFM, and take a good look at what ails the industry and how well the industry associations like PFM and FDAM can help it without making the industry look bad.
Film Directors' Association of Malaysia.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
To me, paying extra for quality cinemas is no big deal. As it is, my family no mostly catch movies at the Gardens Signature cineplex. You pay more but the service is near impeccable, the seats more comfortable and it's less crowded. This is not the Gold Class okay. Signature offers the up-market Premiere Class, and the seats are twin seats. Gold Class at the Signature is RM60.
If it's a price hike, albeit with the upgrading of facilities, I have no problems.
My problem is that the proposal was meant to deter moviegoers from watching foreign films and instead go to see local fare at RM10.
Now, this is really a stupid premise. Increasing the price for foreign movies DO NOT force moviegoers to suddenly watch domestic produced fare. I repeat: IT DOES NOT. Whoever think it does should be committed to Taman Bahagia.
What will happen is that there will be an across the board decrease of moviegoers. They will instead satiate their thirst for foreign movies buy buying illegal DVDs and VCDs, or download the movies online.
Inevitably, this will affect the whole cinema business and they will either close down or think of a different business model to keep their companies afloat.
Local movies will be affected too because of the domino effect. The decrease in the number of people going near a cineplex will mean less chances of people deciding to catch a local movie whilst being at the cineplex lobby. Those who are not regular supporters of local fare will also find the whole affair distasteful and boycott local movies.
When cineplexes close down, Malaysian movies will have less screens. Cinemas will not screen local movies because no one wants to see it.
The whole industry will dissipate.
Am I an alarmist? No, not really. It is all the people that comes up with this knee jerk reaction proposals that are in-bred alarmists. These idiots should just shut up.
If they want to increase the price of tickets across the board and offer movie viewers up-graded cinema halls, yes, by all means do. Increase too the price of tickets for local movies too. Why discriminate?
But if they increase the price of imported movies in order to 'save' the local film industry, then I am sad to say that this is one of the most 'insane strategies' ever implemented. But then again, I was never a supporter of the 7-day force screening of local movies by cinema owners. It is about time, Malaysian movies compete with imported movies on a commercial basis.
Haven't we been hearing that Malaysian films are now world class? Winning all sorts of awards at overseas festival so on and so forth? So why do we suddenly need protectionist policies to assist the local film industry?
If the local movie is crap, no amount of policies will force anyone to see it. This is the same with foreign and imported movies. Case in point, The Spirit directed by Frank Miller.
If Cicakman 2 and Antoo Fighter failed to impress at the box office, don't blame James Bond or Transporter or Ip Man or Beverly Hill Chihuahuas. Blame the movie itself for being bland and uninteresting, so much so that bad word of mouth killed the movie within the first week.
But knowing the people behind the various policies within the entertainment industry, I am fairly certain that this proposal will be studied to the nth degree and implemented. I feel sorry for them and for the thousands of genuine moviegoers.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
I'm not even sure if Jesus Christ ever saw a speck of snow during his lifetime. Can someone tell me if it snows in Bethlehem (Baitulmuqaddis)?
Anyway, sometime during the last century, Christmas became Xmas, and Santa Claus appeared as the symbol of commercial Xmas. Yuletide season now also came with the ubiquitous christmas tree and the yule log.
Please don't get me wrong. I am not knocking Christmas. I am just wondering what the original Christmas spirit was like, long before marketing executives decide that pine trees, christmas stockings, santa claus, elves and flying reindeers should be icons that promotes yuletide season.
My own childhood memories of Christmas are plenty. Eventhough I am a Muslim, I cannot ignore, throughout the five decades of my life, the many Christmases that I have experienced and seen.
I remember watching, as a kid, Frank Capra's melodramatic classic It's A Wonderful Life starring James Stewart - a somewhat loose adaptation of Charles Dickens' yuletide classic A Christmas Carol. No Christmas movie since has ever came close to touching it.
I also remember watching an animated cartoon about Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer and was completed fascinated by the fact that Santa brings presents to all Christian children on the night of Christmas.
I remember going caroling during Christmas with my foster parents in Bexley, Kent, England, in the early 80s. I was shivering in the cold evening and trying and failing miserably to remember the words to Silent Night.
I also remember finding a coin in my first ever Christmas fruitcake and exchanging presents with my foster siblings.
It was like raya, but with snow, hot chocolate and wine.
What I liked most about Christmas is that it felt good and warm. A lot of love going around. A lot of partying.
Raya is more solemn.
In Kuala Lumpur, today, Christmas has taken on a very commercial turn. I was at the Curve last night and the place was packed - Christians and non-Christians - having expensive christmas eve dinners and drinks, and preparing to party the night away. Of course, the whole place has been transformed into the inevitable winter wonderland again.
I see lots of people wearing Santa hats. I was surprised to see also quite a few wearing the devil's horns. These people must have lost the plot somewhere along the line. There were also others who sported reindeer horns that blinked in the night.
Nevertheless, everyone looked happy. I guess this is the modern spirit of Christmas that we Malaysians have come to embrace.
To all my Christian friends - Happy Christmas. May love and friendship be the guide for all of us in the coming years. Feliz Navidad.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Now, Black Forest Golf Course or Bukit Kayu Hitam Golf Course, is unique - only because of its location. Apart from that, the course is ill equipped for a good game of golf. This is rather unfortunate because the architecture and design of the course are excellent.
The fairway for most of the holes blends with the rough, so you really don't know whether you have had teed off into the fairway.
Rough, fairway, green or tee box? You guess.
The rough pulak was covered in dried cut grass or hay. So if you had the unfortunate luck of hitting your ball into the rough, chances are it dribbled under a stack of these dried brown dead grass. Chances are, you won't find it.
Melvin, six months since last game due to fractured wrist. Scored 99. Better than me....arghhhhh!!!!
Another friend, Baha, tee off from the blue tee.
How did I do? Well, for the past few months, I cannot tee off with a driver. And I kept trying, and I kept screwing up. Halfway, I decided to tee off with my driving iron. So, at the end of the day I had three pars and a score of a 100. Betting wise, I lost about RM60.
After having a quick lunch at the club, we went straight back to the hotel. I was already yawning and feeling tired. The guys were already planning to go out karaokeing (it was past 4pm) and warming themselves up for another night of revelry.
I went right up to my room and called for a masseuse. The operator asked me: " Nak yang muda kah yang pandai massage?"
I said "yang pandai massage".
Half and hour later, there was a knock on my door. I opened it, and there was this little old lady about late 40ish grinning at me: "Mashaj?"
An hour into my two-hour massage, I was already sleeping soundly under the safe hands of a true masseuse.
Later, in the evening, all fresh from my invigorating massage, I decided to get dinner at a row of stalls run by a group of tudung clad ladies. It was about a 100 meters from our hotel along the main road. Their nasi goreng is quite good. A couple of friends, Ruslee and Melvin, joined me. From a few text messages, we found out that our friends are already at Bangkok Club.
So that was where we ended up after our dinner.
The club was already rollicking when we arrived. It was crowded as usual and our group was already bopping heads.
For non-smokers, please note that unlike Chiengmai and Bangkok, Danok allows smokers to light up in clubs and restaurants, so the place is as smokey as it can get.
The performances there were actually entertaining eventhough most of the songs were Thai. After the live music ended, the so-called erotic dancers were also once again gyrating to the fengtau music - same moves, same fake smiles, same bellybuttons.
I was quite relieved when our group decided to go to another club, the Paragon. At least I thought I get to see the insides of another club.
Boy, was I wrong.
Paragon was for fengtau maniacs. The decibel level of the music (if you can call it that) inside should be declared illegal. I felt the insides of my chest beating to the vibrations from the speakers. Macam nak dapat heart attack. The place was also completely dark and packed like sardines. You can't see anything except for sudden silhouettes when the disco lights come on.
I lasted ten minutes.
In the dark, I made my way out without saying goodnight to the others. They didn't realise that I left. I walked alone back to my hotel stopping by one of the numerous 7-Elevens to get some snacks and milk.
I couldn't wait for the night to end. My two nights in Danok seemed like forever. Another night to come. Jeez, I thought I'd never say this, but I wanted to leave Thailand and return to the sanity of Malaysia.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Previously, I knew it as Sadao, the border town you have to pass through on the way to Haadyai. So, it was ignored.
Recently I heard many stories about it. So I decided to visit the town, with friends who had frequented the place before. It was also a chance for me to check our the Black Forest Golf Course - whose unique claim to fame is that it lies right on the border of Malaysia and Thailand. What do I mean by saying it's right on the border? Well, you can only access it after you pass the Malaysia border immigration point but before you reach the Thailand border crossing plaza. It is right behind the Bukit Kayu Hitam Duty Free Complex.
Anyway, a slow drive from Kuala Lumpur to Danok, with stops, takes about 6 hours (about 440km). Unless you want to drive your car into Thailand, you can actually leave your car at the Duty Free Complex. From there you can either walk (about 500 meters) into Danok, or take a taxi or a motorbike taxi.
Don't forget to take your passport. If you drive, bring along your registration card.
Now, the Danok of today is vastly different from the sleepy Sadao I used to glance at whilst passing it by many years ago.
Off hand, I have to tell you that this is not a town for families or even the prudish. For example, our hotel room has a mirrored ceiling and two TV channels that offer you free porn 24-7. Hehehe.
Right in front of my hotel was a row of karaoke joints and bars.
The soi (lane) right in front of my hotel. Flanked on both sides by karaoke joints.Noisy and colorful with dozens of potentials 'darlings' (the tag used there for girls of leisure) waiting for customers.
These darlings won't win any beauty contests, okay. They were loud, wearing out-of-date 60s fashion (mini skirts, platform feels, hot pants etc) and rather irritating with their high pitched voices. Their pimps don't make life any easier, ambushing you from all sides: "Abang mau girlfriend? Abang mau perempuan? Mari ikut saya Bang!"
After gathering one's senses and focusing on the matter at hand, you begin to gaze in awe at the sight and realise that you are only minutes away from the rather prudish country called Malaysia.
And this was just 4p.m. ok? Wonder what will happen at night!
Whatever it is, the stomach usually rules above anything else. So the guys told me there was this great 'halal' restaurant near the hotel called Nurlaila. It was about a ten minute walk through an arch with a Moorish motif to signify that you are entering the Muslim side of town - talk about glaring irony.
The entrance to the Muslim quarter of Danok where Nurlaila's restaurant is located. Notice the quaint Moorish influenced arch.Nurlaila is a clean and rather pleasing restaurant. And it serves great authentic Thai food. The seafood and ulam are fresh but their signature dish is the asam pedas Danok style. It was excellent. It was so good that I forgot I had reflux.
You should also try the stir fried cow's tongue.
The famous Nurlaila Restaurant that serves a Danok-style asam pedas to die for.After filling my (already) big tummy, we decide to check out the mssage parlours. I asked them where the most 'reliable' massage joint was and they said the one at Oscar's was the most respectable. So we went. The place was huge and the masseuses sat waiting for customers in this brightly lit lounge. I think there was at least forty of them in their blue uniforms (like factory workers). The age ranges from young girls around their early 20's to battle-tested 40-plus ladies. Some were just chit chatting whilst the older ones were either knitting or reading.
I asked the boss of the place to chose one who could really give a good ancient massage and he called number 114. A pleasant looking stubby Thai lady in her late 30s stood up smiling.
It was a good choice. For two hours, she gave me a thorough massage and actually commented that I am not that healthy with many 'angin' in my knees, my shoulders and my stomach (yeah, tell me something new). She tried to press the 'angin' out but said that she cannot do it within the two hours slot. I just told her to do her best and told her to concentrate on my problematic knees. It hurts like hell, but after the massage, my knee felt better. For RM50, it was money well spent.
It was night when we left the massage joint. We returned to the hotel and I managed to get an hour's nap.
My friend's woke me up and told me they were going to Bangkok. I was stunned. But they assured me it was just their favourite dance club and it was just about 70 meters away from the hotel. Heck, everything was just a few meters from the hotel.
So, I went. Now, if you haven't been to a Thai dance club, you should prepare your senses for an experience that defies logic. The sound, the lights and the activities that goes on inside are caricatures of what we usually assume a dance club should be.
Nevertheless, the Bangkok club is one of the more respectable joints in Danok. It is also huge and can easily fit 500 guests easily. So, if there's 500 Malaysians in the club, plus the 200 or so staff members and 'girl friends' you have a club that is noisy and quite happening.
In the middle of the club was a stage for the 'dance shows' and a stage where the live band performs the best of Thai pop. Surprisingly, they sang one popular Hindi song (most probably for the sake of the Melayus from Malaysia).
The odd-thing is that, 80 percent of the patrons are Malaysians, and yet the show and the announcements, and the bantering done by the performers and singers, were in Thai.
But who cares? Nearly everyone was already sloshed by the time I got there. On tables were numerous empty Heineken bottles - the drink of choice in that place.
The disco lights were flashing, the music blaring and everyone was yelling and dancing and bobbing their heads to the techno music.
Now, the dancing girls on stage were not naked but were dressed rather sexily. They were also eye candy. For those who are uninitiated in Thai clubbing, do not smile or acknowledge any of these girls on the stage or on the floor unless you know what to expect. First timers will get their pockets burnt by these beauties. The tradition is that you buy them a lei, which is held by management executives in suits. These leis costs between RM10 and RM50 each. Be careful. You may get carried away. Before you know it, you may have agreed to RM100 worth of leis for the dancing girl. For what? For her to come down to you and be friendly. You think that's good? Before you know it, she'd have ordered three tequila shots, four blueish colored liquers, a pack of bubblegum and sushi. All these take you back around another RM100 bucks. And before you know it, she disappears. If you look further, you'd see her doing the same thing to another guy who had also purchased some leis for her. So be very aware of these tactics. These beauties are professionals. They come on to you not because you are good looking. They do it because they know they can fleece at least RM100 from you within 15 minutes. And if you think these beauties will end up in bed with you, forget it. They won't. Not for any money in the world. You might want to try your luck with the waitress. You'd stand a better chance. Hahaha.
By 1 a.m., nicely high on drinks, I told the guys we should leave as we had to tee-off the next day. So we left Bangkok. When I reached the hotel, I realised most of them had disappeared. Another friend of mine told me they had gone to another joint called Paragon. I really couldn't give a hoot where they went, I just needed my sleep. The long drive had already taken its toll on my person. The bed waiting for me in the room was nice and firm. Within minutes, I was in lala land.
(To be continued....)
Is this a poster of a Malay movie?
I just saw an exciting and quite interesting movie entitled The Queens of Langkasuka. No its not about a group of gay transvestites from Langkasuka. It's actually the latest movie by top Thai director Nonzee Nimibutr, who is known over here for his horror movie Nang Nak.
A group pic of the villains in this movie about Langkasuka.
The movie relates the epic defence of the empire of Langkasuka against an alliance of pirates and kingdoms led by the Sultan of Songkla.
She also needed the mystical support of a Dulum, a powerful mystical shaman who can control the creatures of the sea. Without the Dulum's help, she cannot retrieve a gigantic cannon that can be used to fight her enemies. The cannon, an ancient weapon of mass destruction, currently resides in the deep ocean off Langkasuka.
The epic was produced at a staggering cost of US$20 million and has already been screened at four top international film festivals.
What I was impressed was the detail in art direction, which made the movie very Malay. The tengkoloks, the kerises and the parangs, the costumes, the sets, the fight choreography were very Melayu.
No! No! No! This is not a Malay movie! It's a Thai movie dammit!
When will we be able to produce an epic like this? No, please do not compare this movie with Putri Gunung Ledang as doing so would insult the Langkasuka movie.
Sad that we are more interested in trying to make movies about drifting automobiles and mutant human cicaks, than something like this which really catches the eye of world cinema.
Try and catch the movie if you are in Thailand or get the DVD when you can. Below is the trailer.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
An old friend Nasir P. Ramlee, passed away suddenly yesterday afternoon around 5pm at HKL. According to friends, he died of heart failure. He was 55.
Nasir lived much of his life under the shadow of his famous father the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee. Nasir was Ramlee's son with his wife Junaidah. Nasir wrote and authored a book about his rocky relationship with his father a few years back.
His funeral will be held today (Thursday 18th December) at his residence in Taman Setapak. He will be buried at the Muslim Cemetery in Danau Kota.
His last foray into movies was in my animated feature Budak Lapok in 2006. I casted him for the voice of the main character Ramlee's father.
For ten years he suffered but he never forgot his dream of becoming a professional dancer. Somehow he secured an audition with a dance troupe in Singapore! Leaving his angry father and mother behind, he somehow found the money to travel to Singapore for the audition. He arrived on the day of the auditions and with his bare feet (he didn't have funds for shoes though he found funds for the trip to Singapore) he showed the committee what little talent he had.
His audition was not good enough according to some members of the panel, but the school's head, Emi Lee, played by Singaporean actress Fann Wong, saw something in him (damn it she must have a great eye for talent) and took him in as a student.
That night, Tae Kwon slept by the roadside and later got a job at a car wash to support himself (Singapore's foreign worker laws must be lenient nowadays). His new job caused him to be late on his first day at dance school but of course Fann Wong forgave him (eventhough Tae Kwon looked as if he hasn't showered in a week and stunk to high heaven).
Tae Kwon must also be washing a lot of cars because somehow he managed to rent a run down apartment that costs S$800 a month. Within a few days he also managed to furnish it tastefully plus get a video player to boot. Meanwhile, personally he stilled looked like he needs a shower and a haircut or even a comb.
Surprise surprise, he falls in love with his dance teacher Emi, who also happens to be a former champion Ballrom dancer who stopped competing after having injured her ankle. Yet she yearns for more competition. The competition is just around the corner and she needs a partner. Bet you a thousand bucks you can't guess who she chooses.
Meanwhile, Faye Wong's boyfriend Cheng is played by Sino-American star Jason Scott Lee ( I hope he was paid well enough to act in this dumb movie) who plays a martial arts instructor and who is insanely jealous. He can't stand to see his girlfriend dance with this young Korean dancer and challenges him to a fight.
Tae Kwon wondered how he could beat this jerk and whilst trying to learn how to punch a mattress on the roof, he saw an old guy practicing Tai Chi. He is inspired enough to go to the library and found a video about Shaolin pattern technique. He went to Cheng and challenged him to this kind of tournament where no bodily contact is allowed (clever guy). Cheng accepted the challenge. The Korean dancer had now only 7 days to learn Shaolin pattern boxing and compete against a past champion. Not so smart guy. If he loses he returns to Korea.
Meanwhile, Cheng is embroiled in some shady dealing and accepted 20k to hurt a guy. He didn't and for not doing that job he himself got a beating by thugs (so much for being a martial arts instructor).
Tae Kwon's father who hated his son's dance ambition suddenly felt that he needed to help his son. Being a cobbler, fashioned a new pair of dancing shoes for his son, which he sent to Singapore, eventhough in the movie there's no scene in which we see Tae Kwon telling his parents where he stayed or worked or danced.
The day of the challenge comes up and Tae Kwon and Cheng turned the heat up for the 30 odd spectators in Cheng's martial arts school. Of course Tae Kwon lost, and he immediately packs his bag and returned to Korea (not sure how he found money for the trip back home).
At that point I just gave up watching. I just can't take more of this guy John Radel's direction and Max Mannix's shitozoid dialogue and storyline. Beh tahan.
If this is what the Singapore film industry is churning out these days, I smile in relief for Malaysian movies.
Furthermore, I saw another Singapore movie entitled Kallang Roar starring Lim Kay Siu as legendary Singapore football coach Choo Seng Quee who led the island republic to Malaysia Cup glory against Penang in 1977.
It is a movie with good intentions but failing miserably in its execution (they even misspelled Tunku Abdul Rahman's name Tungku). Sad thing was the re-enactment of the famous semi-final with Selangor and the finals with Penang. It would have been better if they had taken the actual archival footage because the football shown in this movie is laughable to say the least.
So I guess Singapore movies hitting a bad patch now. Hehehehehe.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The highlight of the opening was this cultural troupe from Makassar, Sulawesi, which shocked everyone with their keris thrusting spectacle. See the pics below.
Anyway, the exhibition itself is quite interesting though after going through it you'd realise you want to know more about the weapons being exhibited.
Nevertheless, it is still an exhibition worth visiting, especially when it's free.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Later that night, after returning from dinner at Hard Rock Cafe, the family surprised me with a cake - surprised because I told everyone I didn't want a cake.
Below are some pictures to mark my silver jubilee.
One of my favourite fruits - the mango - becomes the main ingredient in this cake of mine.
My lovely family - L-R Adi Iliya, Aidyl Abadi, Puteh, Anwardi, Adylla Liyana and Aidyl Nurhadi.
This is his latest movie, produced by Warner Bros. Looks like an interesting movie.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
There were nearly 20 people from these two groups. Imagine if I actually organised a Jamil Sulong clan gathering - with cousins from Melaka, Johore, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Hongkong! My my my, that will be a huge gathering.
Anyway, below are pics of my cousins. Gee, I need to get the names right first before publishing them, so just the pictures for the time being.
With uncle and cousins from Singapore. These are relatives on my mom's side.
Linda, me, Kina and Liza - great bunch of female cousins, don't you think so?
Another clan from Singapore on Raya in my PJ house. Busu Salmah is my dad's youngest sis. Four female cousins, their hubbies and kids!!!
My eldest (far left), his sister (2nd from right) and his two cousins (my elder brother's kids).
Anyway, you can see a sample below. The video is about the famous Malay patriot Panglima Salleh of Johor who fought the communists after the Second World War.
Monday, December 8, 2008
I would like to take this moment to wish all my Muslim friends Selamat Hari Raya Korban or Aidil Adha. In trying times like these, we only have to look back to the sacrifices Nabi Ibrahim a.s. to know our place in the world. We put our faith in Allah s.w.t.
My cousins from my father's side from Singapore will be spending the Raya feast with us in Kampung Tunku (this is the first time in four years we celebrate Hari Raya Korban in Petaling Jaya instead of Janda Baik). It will be a hectic day for all but a pleasurable reunion.
For those who do not understand what the celebration is about, below is an excerpt I found and borrowed from the net. Once again, Selamat Hari Raya Korban.
THE STORY OF AIDIL ADHA (EID AL-ADHA)
During the Hajj, Muslims remember and commemorate the trials and triumphs of the Prophet Abraham or as we know him Nabi Ibrahim a.s. The Qur'an describes Nabi Ibrahim a.s. as follows:
"Surely Ibrahim was an example, obedient to Allah, by nature upright, and he was not of the polytheists. He (Ibrahim) was grateful for Our bounties. We chose him and guided him unto a right path. We gave him good in this world, and in the next he will most surely be among the righteous." (Qur'an 16:120-121)
One of Nabi Ibrahim's (a.s.) main trials was to face the command of Allah to kill his only son. Upon hearing this command, he prepared to submit to Allah's will. When he was all prepared to do it (even after much persuasion by Satan not to heed the order), Allah s.w.t revealed to him that his "sacrifice" had already been fulfilled. He had shown that his love for Allah s.w.t superceded all others, that he would lay down his own life or the lives of those dear to him in order to submit to Allah s.w.t. Instead, Allah s.w.t. told him to instead sacrifice a ram.
During the celebration of Eid al-Adha, Muslims commemorate and remember the trials Nabi Ibrahim a.s., by themselves slaughtering an animal such as a sheep, camel, or goat. This action is very often misunderstood by those outside the faith.
Allah s.w.t. has given us power over animals and allowed us to eat meat, but only if we pronounce His name at the solemn act of taking life. Muslims slaughter animals in the same way throughout the year. By saying the name of Allah s.w.t. at the time of slaughter, we are reminded that life is sacred.
The meat from the sacrifice of Eid al-Adha is mostly given away to others. One-third is eaten by immediate family and relatives, one-third is given away to friends, and one-third is donated to the poor.
The act symbolizes our willingness to give up things that are of benefit to us or close to our hearts, in order to follow Allah's commands. It also symbolizes our willingness to give up some of our own bounties, in order to strengthen ties of friendship and help those who are in need. We recognize that all blessings come from Allah s.w.t., and we should open our hearts and share with others.
It is very important to understand that the sacrifice itself, as practiced by Muslims, has nothing to do with atoning for our sins or using the blood to wash ourselves from sin. This is a misunderstanding by those of previous generations: "It is not their meat nor their blood that reaches Allah; it is your piety that reaches Him." (Qur'an 22:37)The symbolism is in the attitude - a willingness to make sacrifices in our lives in order to stay on the Straight Path. Each of us makes small sacrifices, giving up things that are fun or important to us. A true Muslim, one who submits his or herself completely to Allah s.w.t., is willing to follow His commands completely and obediently. It is this strength of heart, purity in faith, and willing obedience that Allah s.w.t. desires from us.
Aidil Adha also falls on the second day of the Haj period.
On the second day of the pilgrimage, the pilgrims leave Mina just after dawn to travel to the Plain of Arafah for the culminating experience of the Hajj. On what is known as the "Day of Arafah,” the pilgrims spend the entire day standing (or sitting) near the Mount of Mercy, asking Allah s.w.t. for forgiveness and making supplications. Muslims around the world who are not at the pilgrimage join them in spirit by fasting for the day. After sunset on the Day of Arafah, the pilgrims leave and travel to a nearby open plain called Muzdalifah, roughly halfway between Arafah and Mina. There they spend the night praying, and collecting small stone pebbles to be used the following day.
On the third day, the pilgrims move before sunrise, this time back to Mina. Here they throw their stone pebbles at pillars that represent the temptations of Satan. When throwing the stones, the pilgrims recall the story of Satan’s attempt to dissuade Nabi Ibrahm a.s. from following God’s command to sacrifice his son. The stones represent Nabi Ibrahim’s rejection of Satan and the firmness of his faith.
After casting the pebbles, most pilgrims slaughter an animal (often a sheep or a goat) and give away the meat to the poor. This is a symbolic act that shows their willingness to part with something that is precious to them, just as the Nabi Ibrahim a.s. was prepared to sacrifice his son at Allah’s command.
Many were inconvenienced. Transits missed. Deadlines not met. Meetings cancelled, contracts opportunities missed. All sorts of problems caused.
Thailand, in the eyes of the world, especially in the world of tourism, has taken a beating. Many trapped tourists and businessmen swore through the media that they will not return to Thailand ever.
But I'm sure, Thailand, whose tourism industry has survived countless street demos, numerous government changes and even a devastating tsunami a few years back, will bounce back even before you can pronounce the name of its international airport.
Why? Because Thailand is Thailand. Yes, it has one of the most volatile democratic system in the region, but it is still the most gorgeous, the most beautiful, the most dynamic, the liveliest country to visit for anyone - the young male, the older guy, the golfer, the shopaholic, the gastronomic traveler and the pure tourist.
For my friends and I, there's basically only two choices for golf travel and nightlife - Jakarta and Bangkok. Close seconds are Bali, Pattaya, Phuket and Chiengmai. Manila surprisingly hardly ever mentioned as a destination as was Singapore.
So, I believe, Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya and Chiengmai will still receive Malaysian tourists as soon as airline schedules are back online.
Me? I'll be going to Jakarta on the 21st I think, and maybe Pattaya sometime in January before Chinese New Year. These are just plans. But you know, I just checked the exchange rates and the rupiah stood at RM320 for a million rupiah. Now that's a bargain.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Quantum of Solace, modicum of entertainment - 'nuff said - it is one of the worse episodes of James Bond movies - EVER!
Transporter 3, the latest installment of Luc Besson's creation, is a far superior film - in nearly all aspects.
Starring Jason Statham as Frank Martin, Transporter 3 is easily the most kinetic of the series. It also has one of the most peculiar leading actress in movie history. A visually disarming freckled faced beauty named Natalya Rudokova, who plays the role of Valentina. The movie's action set pieces are as usual spot on and with Cory Yuen directing the fight sequences, you know you're gonna get your money's worth.
If you put Frank Martin into the ring with James Bond, I think it will be a no contest. Martin will wins hands down.
My problem with Quantum of Solace is that it felt like an expensive Jackie Chan movie without Jackie Chan and the humour.
Furthermore, Martin has a better performing car than Bond. His Audi is indestructible. It flies, it floats, it dances and it is FAST!
But don't expect an Academy Award winning storyline. The plot is half-baked, but at least the villain is more villainous than the poof in Quantum of Solace.
Go check this SG 18 rated movie. You won't be disappointed if you're an action fan.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
So, let me tell you that some months ago, I did get to see a peek of the movie's first 20 minutes at Mamat's office. I came out wondering what the heck Mamat was trying to do. I had my reservations so I didn't comment about it until when I get to see the movie as a whole.
And thankfully, after witnessing the full cut, all 98 minutes of it, let me tell you this - this movie is one of the most entertaining Malay movies I have seen in a long, long time.
Estet, starring Farid Kamil, is easily Mamat's best work.
The stars of Estet - L-R Farid, Jasmine Micheal and Shashi Tharan
It's a movie that you'd go more than once, just to enjoy its sheer audacity.
What is Estet? It's a parody and satire in its pure sense - a very very good parody of Indian movies, Malay movies and at society itself. This movie may seem superficial at first glance, but let me tell you this, it isn't. This is one of the smartest local movies in recent times.
Mamat is like Stephen Chow in his early days mixing comedy with social satire and mixing irreverent dialogue with mind blowing political innuendoes.
You guys have got to see this movie when it comes out. Hopefully, passed without cuts.
Le Auteur Monsieur Mamat Khalid - Le Regieur le Estet
So, it was an okay ceremony, simple and straight forward. As usual, not many Malaysian movies, were nominated for any awards - except for Wayang - nominated for two, of which I can remember one - best actor for Eman Manan. He lost to Jordanian actor Nadeem who did a great job as the janitor in the Jordanian movie Captain Abu Raed.
Best movie went to a Brazilian movie - Alice's House.
What else did I remember? Oh yes, this Swedish singing group who call themselves Lady Alive. Great eye candy, but the lead singer can't sing to save her life.
Ning was outstanding singing a medley of James Bond themes (why? Don't ask me).
My favourite part of the show was when the finale was the typical Malaysian song-and-dance number with every race depicted - Malay, Indian, Chinese, Sarawakian. Very colorful. Very typical. But they danced to the song Joget Pahang. Too bad, Sarimah, the wise-cracking host for the night, didn't tell the audience that the song was from the movie Hang Tuah directed by Phani Majumdar and the song composed by P. Ramlee with lyrics written by Jamil Sulong. Too bad.
So ends another KLIFF. RM3 million down the drain (or so I heard ), and another notch in the KLIFF organisers dream to make it better than Cannes Film Festival (Hahhahahaha).
Oh yes, let me correct myself. A special Jury award of merit was given to Wayang. Why not? We are the hosts of the festival, right?
I want you to take a look at : KLM - Fill a Plane - Promote your plane.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Whilst we were in Janda Baik, rain played havoc on our schedule. From 4 pm onwards, shooting was near impossible, but we did manage to shoot one night scene. It came pouring and pouring and pouring. right until the next morning and then it starts again in the late afternoon.
Nevertheless, we got to complete and wrap the shoot by Thursday afternoon.
Below are some of the pics from the location.
The stream in front of my family house - Harmony. It soothes the mind, but may get nasty during downpours.
On the second day, at calltime, there was a hiccup with the water mains. So the crew decided that its time for 'mandi sungei'.
Ebby Saiful in his role as Awang, prepares to let fly his magical spear and kill 99 people at Dayang's wedding.
Monday, November 24, 2008
I will be shooting the massacre scene of wedding guests at Dayang's wedding in the famous Johor tragedy called Lembing Awang Pulang Ke Dayang. If you have heard of this 'fable', a famous spear master named Awang went amok when he found that his true love Dayang has been betrothed to his arch enemy Bachok. He took his famous 'lembing' and surprised everyone at the reception. This was because everyone thought he had died during his travels away from the kampung (Bachok had in fact lied to everyone about Awang's death so as to marry the beautiful Dayang).
At the wedding, and without as much as a hello, Awang vented his fury and speared 99 victims including Bachok (the first to die) and Dayang's father (the 99th victim). The spear stopped looking for victims after Dayang pulled out the spear from her dying father.
Another story t be shot will be that of famous communist fighter Kiai Salleh or Panglima Salleh, whose exploits, in Johore just after the war, has become stuff of legends. According to 'reports' Panglima Salleh (who sports a red scarf) can send his parang flying very far distances to seek his victims.
Another story to be shot is the story of how a Minangkabau Lord, in a fit of anger after quarreling with his half-brother, took out his keris and stabbed a rock piercing it. The famous rock, called Batu Bertikam, is now displayed in Padang, Sumatra, with life-sized replicas found in Seri Minanti and Museum Adat in Jelebu, Negeri Sembilan.
I am going to have a lot of fun visualising these scenes and will be employing some CGI to enhance some of the so-called magic in these stories.
Hopefully, these videos will be ready by the time the exhibition opens in mid-December.
I will of course post the scenes on YouTube and this blog.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
It is also a boutique hotel - born from the old shop lots that Singapore is quite famous for.
This is the Albert Court Hotel in Prince Albert Road near Sim Lim Square.
I don't have to write much about this boutique hotel - just check out the photos below.
However the only thing I can comment is that one of the concierge members was quite rude to me - quite disconcerting. He actually spoiled the rather chirpy attitude of the front desk staff. From the rather unnecessary incident, he actually raised his voice to the counter staff and looked rather pissed. Must have had a bad day. All I wanted was for my stuff to be watched as I wanted to go to the shops outside before returning to my room. The counter staff called this Malay concierge who ignore us at first and then when I asked for his assistance, he said; "Put there first lah." And walked off in a huff. The front desk staff looked bemused but suggested that she put the package in the store room for me. I thanked her for her assistance. Little things like these spoil a hotel's image and even indirectly the country's. Too bad. Nevertheless, I will still recommend the hotel to friends and would also return to the hotel if they maintain their price structure. I paid S$120 plus plus per night without breakfast.
The hotel is about five minutes walk to Sim Lim Square and is adjacent to the imposing La Salle College of Fine Arts and Fashion (or so someone said) (picture below). It is also a five minute cab ride to my favourite Singapore murtabak restaurant Victory (which is slightly better than Zam Zam). Surprisingly, my family favourite murtabak restaurant, Singapura, which used to be right beside Victory has since closed down.
Try the beef murtabak and the beriani. It is to kill for.