I will be starting a journal in this blog, of my journey in creating the 8-part historical teleseries tentatively called "1870: Setahil Timah, Segumpal Darah" (1870: A Tahil of Tin, A Clump of Blood).
I began this journey at the end of 2009, when my company, Manjafilms were invited to talk about producing some programmes for Astro. Being a small company, we entered the discussions with the usual telefilm, teleseries and serials proposals.
However, when the meeting ended we were actually offered to produce a Suatu Ketika series.
Now, to say that I was surprised and elated would be an understatement. I mean, I loved the fact that Astro was commissioning Suatu Ketika series for the industry. For once, there was a station willing to actually fund a production based on content.
That is why SK (Suatu Ketika) is currently the Jewel of Malaysian local TV.
From that slot, they have commissioned high quality dramas like Warkah Terkahir (the story of Rosly Dhoby), Tangkal Besi (fictionalised story of Botak Chin), Sybil (the story of Sybil Karthigesu) (which was something I dearly wanted to do) and Dendam Kesuma (the story of Tun Fatimah).
I was offered a few subjects, but the one that caught my eye was the Klang Civil War (also known as the Selangor Civil War) of 1864-1873. This particular incident, if you guys are still familiar with our history, involved many interesting personalities - two of which are very very important - Raja Mahadi and Tengku Kudin.
I immediately went into research mode which I love doing. Went to libraries and book stores grabbing everything and anything about that incident and era. Also scoured the net for third party research and information.
The incident or the civil war was a massive event that turned the course of history drastically, especially for Selangor. It began in 1863 and ended just seven years later.
The war began in Klang, continued to Kuala Selengor, to Kuala Lumpur and ended with the final battle in Rawang.
It also involved another colorful character - Kapitan Yap Ah Loy.
Without Yap Ah Loy's involvement in the affair, Tengku Kudin would have lost the war to Raja Mahadi, and maybe would have delayed the British interference in the Malays states by a few decades.
Thousands died in the civil war. Warlords who were rich before the war, became paupers after. The British who were, in my opinion, manipulating Kudin, gained the most mileage in the whole affair. At the end of the war, they intimidated the Selangor court so much that the Sultan had to acquiesce to British intervention, and hence the creation of the British Resident's post in the Selangor government in 1875 or so.
I also discovered many interesting items that happened in the war including the Kanching massacre, the fact that the Kapitan China was a post that holds his subjects' (the chinese) lives and death in his hands, and the debut of rocket warfare in the Malay States (that ended the war).
There was also the tragic incident of the British imposing their might on the legal system during that time. Twelve innocent men were accused of piracy and were executed after a sham trial by the British. Sadly, the Sultan had to abide by the decision and even offered the use of his kris to execute the 'guilty' men. Even Frank Swettenham in his writings confirmed the innocence of those tried.
The Selangor Civil War is a massive historical event, and a massive production if I were to undertake it but it is a challenge that I welcome as a producer, writer and director.
After the research had been done, including research on costumes, production design and stuff, I wrote a rough treatment or storyline for the series.
Completed a full proposal and submitted. Hoping for the best, and expecting the worse.
(To be continued....)