Saturday, November 29, 2008


A birthday wish to a very dear friend - Shukor Karim. Best wishes for the day and for the rest of the year - except (of course) if it relates to Manchester United lah.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Shooting during these uncertain months of the monsoon (damn the greenhouse effect) can really get to you as a filmmaker - especially when you have a deadline to meet.
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.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Tomorrow, my team and I will be going to Janda Baik to start shooting a very interesting project. I will be shooting videos for screening at Muzium Negara this December for their coming exhibition entitled Senjata Melayu: Antara Mistik dan Kesaktian (Malay Weaponry: From Mysticism to the Magical).
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


I actually found a nice affordable hotel in Singapore. The price is about right (as compared to other business class and four star hotels in Singapore) and the location is excellent.
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.

Friday, November 14, 2008


I'm posting this from the lounge at LCCT waiting for my 7.25pm Airasia flight to Singapore. Seriously, it's been quite a while since I flew to Singapore. Usually I take the four hour plus drive through the second link and straight to Singapore city with the GPS on.
But heck, this morning I thought why not just go to KL sentral get a ticket and fly down. Easy peachy. So that's what I did at 9.30am this morning. Had breakfast with Puteh and then she dropped me down at KL Sentral.
I walked to the Malaysian Airline ticketing office in the building near the entrance of the train to KLIA.
Okay, it has been sometime since I bought a flight ticket to Singapore okay. So, please excuse for saying that I got a shock when the ticket counter told me my economy return ticket to Singapore is RM1,020!!!!
I stood there like a bloody idiot. I travel to Jakarta return costs me RM400-500. I travel to Bangkok about the same cost. On KLM to Jakarta never more than RM600 return.
And then suddenly, I have to pay more than 1 bloody k to Singapore on Malaysian Airlines.
So, I put back my credit card into my wallet, smiled at the Malaysian Airlines staff, thanked him for his troubles and walked off.
I took the train to KLIA and then a bus to LCCT, went to the Airasia ticket counter and bought a ticket for RM580 return. End of story.
Jeez! Remind me to check flight costs again before going to KL Sentral or KLIA!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


During my Form 5 years, I hung out with a group of friends that were tight. We do everything together - watch hockey matches (this was during the time when Malaysia was a force to be reckoned in world hockey), movies, warungs and even group dates.
We were not all from the same school - most were from La Salle PJ, but some were from Bukit Bintang Boys School and also from St. Johns. The girls who hung out with us, however, were mostly from Assunta.
So, since we left school, we have met irregularly at off-the-cuff reunions organised by some of us who had the tenacity to gather us together.
One of these guys is Abang Hamzah, now Capt. Abang Hamzah, who is actually my senior in LSPJ. He has been very active in organising reunions, even with his own Class of 73 LSPJ.
Last Sunday, was one of the reunions that he organised. This time, however, he also invited his MAS batch of friends (which included my brother Capt. Arjunaidi).
Below are photos that Abang took of the reunion.


Dreams can be weird. Had a disturbing night last night. At about 4 in the morning my mom woke me up and said calmly that my dad had fallen off the bed. I rushed to the room and saw my dad looking slightly bewildered on the floor by his bed.
My youngest son and I carried him back to his bed. He was okay and said that he had a nightmare and fell off the side of the bed. But luckily he is okay. No bruises at all.
Then when I went back to sleep, I got into a fitful state. I woke up every fifteen minutes. And when I did manage to fall asleep I had the strangest dream.
I was walking with my brother I think when I happen to glance upwards and saw a small plane flying past us. A split second later, I saw a commercial plane veering away i the sky without a wing and smoke was trailing its tail. The plane sort of flipped and went careening to earth and crashed behind us. We rushed to see the place wreck, and came upon a beach full of debris and other people picking up the pieces. And then I woke up.
I cannot remember what place it was but it was definitely not Malaysian Airlines of AirAsia. I don't believe in premonitions but the dream was so real and quite disconcerting.
In the papers today, AirAsia announce they were doing away with their fuel surcharges and giving away 500,000 free tickets. Malaysian Airlines on the other hand announced in an ad today their really great promotions for the next two days.
No, I doubt these events are connected. But heck, I was a little taken aback by the dream.
Nevertheless, I need to watch over my dad closely these days.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


The 70s were memorable years for me. I finished secondary school, lost my virginity, danced to disco music, earned my first pay cheque, and etc etc etc. Heh heh. It was also the era of great dance bands - Earth Wind and Fire, B.T. Express, Commodores, Chic, Kool and The Gang. Even Africa produced a great group called Osibisa.
However, some of the most memorable, if not corny music during the disco era, came from the white guys. Check out below for some of the white bands that made it big during the 70s and early 80s. Listen closely too to the great lyrics. Do you remember their names? Not in the same order as the videos - K.C. and The Sunshine Band, Rick Dees, Silver Convention, Leo Sayer, Bee Gees, Andy Gibb, Rare Earth, Wild Cherry and Walter Murphy. Hahaha.

There's come to thing of it, who killed disco? I think the white guys did it.


This is rare! A live performance of Benson's hit song Breezin, between Benson and Santana.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Tomorrow, the 11th episode of Bilik No. 13 will be aired. The title is Pelawat Malam written and directed by my son Aidyl Abadi.
Next week, episode 12 is entitled Kelab Ronggeng, my nod to Quentin Tarantino's Dusk To Dawn and Creepshow's Bordello of Blood. It stars Eman Manan and Harun Salim Bachik.
Episode 13 wraps up the second season with the secret of Bilik No. 13 exposed. It stars Catriona Ross and Anne Abdullah.
There have been mixed response to the second season. RTM insiders said the stories were stronger by casting was weak. For some, the scary parts took too long to begin and they would have changed the channel to TV3 to catch Kekasih Ku Seru.
On the positive side, die hard Bilik No 13 fans really liked the series and want more.
We took all these criticisms to heart. However, we were a little concerned and disappointed that RTM did not promote the second season at all. Eventhough we have prepared promotion materials for them at the beginning of the season, they did not deem it necessary to remind the press about the series.
This is sad, because the first season was a big hit for RTM2, and for them to assume that the popularity would be maintained or improve without promotion is unfortunately shortsighted.
We are in fact still waiting for the greenlight for season three. I was surprised when one of the officers said they are waiting for the final ratings. Suddenly they are concerned about ratings? Imagine if they had promoted the series ever week - the ratings would have soared.
Once again, all I could do is just wait. If you don't have patience and a strong heart, don't be a producer for RTM. You might just go nuts. Hmmm, now that's a great story for an episode of Bilik No. 13.


So, the results are in. Barrack Hussin Obama is now the president-elect of the US of A. I thought I never lived to see the day the Americans actually voted a non-caucasian guy as President. Now, it has happened. Not only is he black, he is intelligent, impeccable, eloquent and he is persuasive.
I wonder who is planning to cast himself as Barrack in the up-coming movie (well, I'm sure there's a movie already planned).
My choice would be Chris Rock...though his voice is completely different. You can't cast Denzel Washington - they look too different. So too is Samuel Jackson (too old).
Maybe Jim Carrey can play the role if he does a black-face make-up job like Robert Ironman Downey Jr in Tropic Thunder.
Maybe Don Cheadle would be in the running.
Anyway, it's about time US of A has a new leader. Anyone is better than George W. Bush Jr. Anyone. Oops except maybe Sarah Palin. Right?

Sunday, November 2, 2008


MANILA is one of the world's most beautiful cities. I first fell in love with Manila in 1980. I was in my final year of college in ITM (doing Mass Communication majoring in Journalism) when I was asked where I would like to do my practical (a three month stint at a professional institution or corporation).
I can't remember how or why, but I decided to ask if I could do my practical overseas - specifically in Manila, the Philippines. I didn't want to be attached to the New Straits Times Press (where most of the journalism students would be going) because, before entering ITM, I was already working there. In fact, I was actually on a study leave from NST to get my Diploma from ITM, so there wasn't really a need for me to go back to NST to 'experience' a local newsdesk. I wanted to experience something new.
Somehow, I actually got a Manila newspaper to accept my request for apprenticeship - the Daily Express (now defunct). The editor if I am not mistaken was a guy named Ernesto Romualdez - a close relation to the First Lady I was told.
However, I wasn't too worried about being in a strange country because in Manila, I stayed with my foster brother, Abang Zai (who is now deceased). He was an attache with the Malaysian Embassy in Manila and his home was in the nice part of Makati.

The Daily Express's office was at the end of Roxas Boulevard, near Intramuros, and situated in an old building.
Everyone talks in English so it was fine for me working there. However, most of the articles written for the papers used a smattering of Tagalog which was quite alien to me.
Tagalog as most people would know is related to our national language, Malay. Some of the words have similar sounds and meanings (i.e. Kiri (left), Lalaki (Men)) but it does take a while to get the hang of it, especially the accent and pronunciation.
For example, my name sounds hilarious in Filipino. They pronounce it Anwardi Hamil...yeah...their J is pronounced as a H (because of their Spanish heritage). Imagine being referred to as Mr. Hamil.
Whilst there, I did the usual general desk work, the economics desk and even the sports desk. I did get a couple of my own copies into print - but small insignificant articles. Sports news coverage was fun but unfortunately the Filipinos love basketball and boxing - two sports which doesn't really thrill me.
What I really and truly fell in love with was the people of the Philippines. They are like us, only more Catholic with a twist of Spain.
I also adore their love for music. I spent most nights at jazz clubs especially one called Papillion in Makati. It was an after hours club where jazz musicians from other clubs rendezvous after their stints elsewhere.
The world famous sunsets along Manila Bay. Rumors have it that thousands of couples exchange marriage vows whilst blanketed in the golden rays of the sunset.
I would also spend my evenings just walking along Roxas Boulevard looking at the couples who flock to Manila Bay to catch the dazzling sunset.

Their cuisine however doesn't quite catch my fancy. Apart from their love affair with pork, ham and bacon, much of their cuisine are an acquired taste. But I like their American diners.
Of course, then there were the Filipinas. Yes, the Filipinas. Now, they are something else. They are gorgeous, beautiful and feminine. And hopelessly romantic.
Since those early days in Manila (at that time under the Marcoses), I've been back a few times including one to attend the Young Asian Writers Workshop (under the Ford Foundation) with Kee Thuan Chye in Quezon City, a few years later.
I would love to go again and again, including checking out other cities like Cebu.
However, whilst Manila has been growing into a mega super city, what hasn't changed is the traffic. Unless you've been in a traffic jam in Manila or Jakarta, you haven't been in a traffic jam before.