Satu Malaysia! Now the key word for most proposals to RTM. Even in my porposals that I submitted, I had to think of concepts and themes that match or promote the Satu Malaysia or One Malaysia slogan.
But I sometimes wonder. In most productions for Malay dramas, the One Malaysia concept has long been in existence. There is an 'unwritten' policy that most of our dramas must be multi-racial. That's why we see non-Malay actors like Tingting, Madam Wong, Janet Khoo, Param, Rama, Kenji and many others, making a name for themselves in Malay dramas. Malay speaking non-Malay actors are now commanding high fees and are in demand. And this was well before the advent of One Malaysia.
The funny thing is, the producers of local Chinese and Tamil dramas don't seem to have this problem of Malaysianising their productions. Their dramas are usually 100% in Mandarin or Tamil, and you hardly see any Malay faces in the dramas ( and if there were, it is just some token extra speaking one line dialouges in Malay. Sometimes looking at these locally produced Tamil and Mandarin dramas, you wonder if they are actually Malaysian dramas or pseudo Malaysian dramas that could have been produced in India, Singapore, Hongkong or even Taiwan.
No, I am not against the production of local Chinese-language dramas or Tamil-language dramas. But I am just wondering why the Malay producers are 'forced' to produce 'Malaysian' dramas and yet the Chinese and Tamil producers are allowed to produce totally singular ethnic content?
If the government is to promote One Malaysia, then shouldn't there be a concerted effort to produce just One Malaysia dramas? Why should we start polarising our productions and defeat the purpose of One Malaysia?
Didn't we applaud the late Yasmin Ahmad's wonderful short pieces for Petronas as typical Malaysian originals? So why not emulate such ideals into our films? Or is it too difficult to do?
Maybe we shouldn't think about One Malaysia? For example, most of the independant filmmakers who seem to be gaining attention overseas at festivals are already portraying Malaysia as a non-Bahasa Malaysia speaking country. Far from the One Malaysia ideals.
If I am not mistaken, their movies are mostly Chinese-centric, albeit Malaysian Chinese-centric. however, as a piece of cinema, I cannot criticise them. They are producing good cinema, even if it is in their own mother-tongues.
So, now I am slightly confuse. Do I celebrate cinema for cinema sake or do we make movies to promote our language, our culture, our diversity and or One Malaysia?
As filmmakers, we should be striving for excellence. The pursuit for real cinema does not take language into consideration. The only language that matters is film language.
But here in Malaysia, especially those who are producing for TV stations, true cinema takes a back seat. We instead are required to wear our ethnic hats and think ethnic thoughts. We see categories listed that tells us what languages such productions must be made in, thus identifying and confirming that these productions are only watched and viewed by certain races in our societies. This means, Malays watch Malay dramas, Chinese watch Chinese dramas and the Indians watch Tamil dramas. So, who watches One Malaysia dramas? I bet you only the Malays would watch it because it is produced in Bahasa Malaysia.
In the end, we make films but we are not filmmakers.
In the end, we are as fake as the slogan "filem kita wajah kita".