Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Today, we start the shoot for the second season of our little hit cooking show Dapur Bujang. The cooking series was created to fill a void in the local cooking show scene. Whilst most cooking shows teach viewers elaborate dishes, Dapur Bujang was specifically created for the young who just wants to know how to cook simple quick dishes. The show doesn't assume that everyone is a budding chef - instead we assume that not every even knows how to cook rice, fry eggs or even know the names of vegetables.
The first season was aired unannounced but word of mouth made it a minor hit, so much so that RTM immediately repeated the first series after it ended its run. Lucky for us, the series, even in its second run, became a bigger hit. We were then told to shoot a new 13-episode series, with the same young Chef - Iskandar (pic), who, it seems, now have quite a following amongst young female viewers.
Chef Iskandar of Dapur Bujang (Bachelor's Kitchen)
This is not the first cooking show I helmed. In fact, my first even TV series was a cooking show - Kuali - which I created for TV3 way back in 83. It was the first in-house magazine type production for TV3. Being a big fan of a cult TV cooking show called The Galloping (hosted by Graham Kerr if I remember correctly ) I decided to create a local cooking show that would travel the whole country looking for unique local cuisine created by master Chefs.
I selected a rather beautiful Nazliah Hamid to host the show and it became a hit and went on to become one of TV3's longest running shows. I left the show after one season - after I was asked to created another woman's programme. I created and produced Nona (which went on to become the longest running TV3 programme - I think it has been on air longer than Majallah TV3).
Sitting in the director's chair for Dapur Bujang 2 will be Thorpe Ali, who also directed most of the first season's episodes. I opted out of directing the second season because of my commitment to helm our other TV series Bilik No. 13 which will begin lensing next week.
It's going to be a long April month for me and my team. But I hope the fans of both Dapur Bujang and Bilik No. 13 will be patient with us as we prepare to complete the two series as fast as we possibly can.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

60 - Not Out! Happy Birthday Tunku Imran

Today is YAM Tunku Tan Sri Imran's 60's birthday. Over a hundred of his family members and friends celebrated his 60th birthday party at the Palace of Golden Horses last night. I was there as a friend of the family and came with Melvin Rodrigo (Tunku Imran's brother -in-law). There were too many dignitaries to mention, but amongst them include Dato Tony Fernandez (Mr Air Asia) and Dato Ali Kadir. But it was the video tribute (created by Tunku Imran's lovely wife Che Engku Puan Sri Mahirah or Moira to friends) that took the cake. The who's who of world cricket and squash recorded their wishes to Tunku Imran. They include cricket greats Arvinda Singh, Sunil Gavaskar, Sir Gary Sobers, Malaysian world number one squash champion Nicole Davids and Malaysia's sprint legend Dr Jegathesan. AND the last celebrity to appear on the video tribute was ELTON JOHN!!!
It was a great party for a great guy who just loves sports (Tunku Imran was the national squash champion in 1973). Happy Birthday Tunku Pete - excellent knock - 60 n0t out!!
I would also like to take this opportunity to also wish two very good friends (who were also there at the party) a very Happy Birthday - Ivan Rodrigo (who is Moira's brother) who celebrated his birthday a few days back and Colin Pereira (of Olympia College) whose birthday is on Monday. Best wishes you guys!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Al-Fatihah Buat Jalil Ngah

Another friend, Jalil Ngah, elder brother to songwriter Manan Ngah, passed away at age 51 yesterday of heart failure. Fifty one is just too young for anyone to leave the world. He was one of my first art directors in TV3. We were all young TV3 pioneers trying to make a difference in TV land in the early 80s - trying to be different from RTM. He first worked with me on Nona. He was a consummate professional and a great guy.
Below it the news in Bahasa Malaysia about his passing;

KUALA LUMPUR: Pengarah Kreatif AVXS Sdn Bhd, Abd Jalil Ngah, 51, meninggal dunia kira-kira jam 7.30 pagi ini di Institut Jantung Negara (IJN). Beliau yang disahkan menghidap sakit jantung, dikebumikan di Tanah Perkuburan Islam, Masjid Siti Khadijah, Pantai Dalam, Kuala Lumpur. Jalil yang cukup sinonim dengan bidang produksi konsert, sistem pencahayaan dan rekaan pentas dikenali ramai yang terbabit secara langsung dalam produksi dan pengurusan konsert sejak 20 tahun lalu. Idea dan kreativiti beliau banyak digunakan ketika persembahan konsert mega Search dan Wings di era 80 dan 90-an. Beliau yang aktif di bidang seni sejak 1957 sehingga 2008, merupakan abang kepada komposer terkenal, Manan Ngah dan adik kepada kartunis Fatah Ngah (siri kartun Lagak A Mamud, Majalah Gila-Gila). Video klip Isabella dari Search antara hasil sentuhan Jalil Ngah ketika mula berjinak dalam bidang pengarahan.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Alhamdullilah the TV2 series on the paranormal (fictional) entitled Bilik No.13 is a hit and RTM has commissioned Manjafilms Sdn Bhd to produce another 13 episodes. Firstly I would like to thank all the fans of the series who faithfully tune in to the screenings on Thursday night at 9pm on TV2. Surprisingly, the series is such a hit that RTM actually screens the series again on Saturday night/Sunday morning at 3 am also on TV2.
To date, the current series is on Ep.11 with Patung (my kampung tribute to Chucky) shown last week. Next week is Kabus, about a group of young girls trapped in an SUV along a dark lonely road, and is ambushed by a malevolent fog. The week after is the story of Karipap starring Dato Aziz Sattar in a meaty role that shows his versatility as a serious actor.
Production on the second season will begin either late next week or the week after (depending very much on the weather). Locations too have not been firmed as are actors and actresses. Nevertheless I am looking forward to producing and directing the series along with my son Abadi and my old friend Ken Yap.
As requested by the station to produce a much-better season, it will be a challenge that I relish. In the second season, fans will actually find out the secret behind the Bilik No. 13 title. This time, the second season will go out all the chill your spines - with stories such as Harimau Jadian, Jangan Lupa Tutup Tingkap, Kereta Mayat, Almari, Foto, Bunian dan Artifak. Other short stories that will also make it to the line up include Cari Nombor, Orkid, Topeng dan Orang Langit.
Harimau Jadian will start the series with a two parter. It is my nod to the lost P. Ramlee horror movie entitled Si Tora.
The third episode is a gothic-styled horror short entitled Jangan Lupa Tutup Tingkap. It is about the dangers of naughty children who fail to heed their parents' warning and forgetting to close their windows at night.
Kereta Mayat is based on a short story I wrote and shot about 15 years ago - but this time with a gangland twist. Two small-time gangland 'cleaners' are required to dispose of a gangland's boss's body. Unfortunately for them, the day of their dastardly deed falls on the first day of the Hungry Ghost month.
Almari is a short story about greed and a strange cabinet that offers you riches in exchange for the sacrifice of live animals in the cabinet (a cannibal cabinet). The bigger the animal, the bigger the reward. The man who owns the cabinet realises his nagging wife is the biggest 'animal' he can sacrifice. Does he?
Foto is inspired by Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray. However, this time, the lady in an antique photo becomes younger by the day, but the owner of the photo becomes older. In the original story, Dorian Gray owns a self portrait. His portrait grows old, but he remains forever young.
Bunian? It's an ambitious attempt by me to shoot a story about a parallel world, where a day there is equivalent to one year in the real world. It's about a world so strange that men in the real world are lured into by beautiful maidens looking for husbands. It's a perfect world with a dark secret. A secret that can only be seen through the reflection of a mirror.
Artifak tells the story of an antique Tibetan knife that has a life of its own. It also controls the mind of the person who finds it.
I also wanted to do a tribute to one of my favourite Japanese horror movies off all time, Onibaba directed by Kaneto Shindo. That movie was produced in 1964, but I think I first saw it in a festival in the early 70s. The episode entitled Topeng is a tribute to it.
If Bilik No 13 gets renewed for another third season maybe I'll do a tribute to another great Japanese movie (also produced in 1964) entitled Kwaidan (Ghost Story) directed by Masaki Kobayashi.
Depending on my technical producer's advice, I may or may not do Orkid. The special effects required may not be possible within today's RTM drama budgets. It's a serious ode to the cult movie The Little Shop of Horrors. If the effects can be done realistically within budget then my team and I will try our best to do this sci-fi episode. It is however not the only sci-fi story in the series.
Orang Langit
is about an alien who finds his way into a kampung store in the middle of a hold up. The alien has the ability to mimic, and when it sees a TV programme, it takes on the form of a popular Malay actor.
Anyway, it is a tough series to produce - technically and logisticall- but Insyallah we will do our best to deliver. We reallly do not want to disappoint our fans. If all goes well Bilik No 13 Siri Kedua will be screened in June.
Meanwhile, we are also about to start producing the second season of our popular cooking show Dapur Bujang.
Those who want to try their hands at acting, do drop me a line at Who knows, you might be my next zombie or victim.

Monday, March 10, 2008

A Little Mention on Our Recent General Elections

No, I'm not going to analyse the elections. Heavens forbid! Every other blog has something to say about it, so I won't. But having said that, in cinematic terms, I would like to say that sometimes " fact is stranger than fiction" and that I don't think any screenwriter could have written a scenario about what just happened in our country - because it would have been laughed at and considered a scenario that is too far fetched. Yet it happened.
I know the results will impact everyone but as for me? Well, the Information Minister YB Dato Zainuddin Maidin lost his seat in Sungei Petani. That's a direct impact on the TV industry. Come Monday, hopefully we will know who replaces him, and then once again, we wait and see if there are any policy changes in RTM. We were just getting to understand and used to the new tender system Zam enforced last year, and now this has happened. Anyway, whoever the next Information Minister is, I just hope he will listen to us small producers who not only want to make ends meet, but also want to make a difference.
Just need to mention something about the campaigning period. An artiste (a young artiste) trying to look intelligent and mature did injustice to the industry and his peers when in his haste to show support for the ruling party, said that "he will never ever support a party that is ruled by Ulamaks". It is idiots like him that tarnishes our industry's image amongst the grassroots - these young artistes who shoot from their hips and putting their foot in their mouths should be given a kick in the behind. I hope his Persatuan will teach him to shut up and not insult and belittle Ulamaks - for in UMNO and in our Government there are also ulamaks who help run this country too. So there!