Remy ishak

AugustMan (Malaysia) - - Front Page -

Turn­ing back the hands of time to the 1940s with the lo­cal ac­tor in Pu­lang, as he voices out his hopes and dreams for the lo­cal film in­dus­try

IN HIS LAT­EST FILM REMY ISHAK DELVES BACK IN TIME TO TELL OF A GEN­ER­A­TION WHOSE STO­RIES TILL NOW

RE­MAIN UN­TOLD

Satin jacket by CMDI BE­SPOKE MENSWEAR; Glasses by FOS­SIL

OP­PO­SITE PAGE Tengkoloque head­gear by PANCASONA, avail­able at www.monoloque.com;

Glasses by FOS­SIL

Pe­likat-print jacket by SYOMIRIZWA GUPTA; Glasses by FOS­SIL

“After he got mar­ried, he was in­spired to be a bet­ter man,” says Remy Ishak, who plays the lead Oth­man in the film Pu­lang.” The his­tor­i­cal drama is based on true events, in fact re­volv­ing around the grand­fa­ther of Ah­mad Izham Omar, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Prime­works Stu­dios who pro­duced the film. “My grand­fa­ther left Malacca in 1946 to work on a cargo ship in Sin­ga­pore and sailed around the world. He vis­ited var­i­ous des­ti­na­tions and sent post­cards to my fa­ther,” Ah­mad Izham was quoted as say­ing in an in­ter­view with the News Straits Times.

He never had the op­por­tu­nity to meet his grand­fa­ther but in 2010, he made his way to Liver­pool to look for the grave of his grand­fa­ther.

“When I asked Ah­mad Izham, he couldn’t tell me much about his char­ac­ter,” says Remy. “His fa­ther Hj. Omar de­scribed him as be­ing very se­cre­tive, some­one who didn’t talk much.” Us­ing his cre­ative li­cense, Remy came to the con­clu­sion that Oth­man must have been suf­fer­ing from feel­ings of guilt for hav­ing left his fam­ily, which was the rea­son for his re­served char­ac­ter.

“Be­fore Malaysia got in­de­pen­dence, it was not easy to be­come some­one. From a fish­er­man to a sailor, for some­one who could not speak English,” Remy elab­o­rates. “It is like mov­ing from zero to be­com­ing a hero. He was not from a rich fam­ily and he was liv­ing alone, by him­self.”

Though Oth­man’s story may ap­pear to be quite un­usual, he was just one of many who even­tu­ally set­tled abroad after be­com­ing sailors. When Ah­mad Izham went to look for his grand­fa­ther’s ceme­tery, he dis­cov­ered that there were many other Malaysian sailors who had been buried in the same ceme­tery.

“IT IS SAID THAT THE MALAYSIAN FILM IN­DUS­TRY IS GO­ING DOWN BE­CAUSE WE DON’T HAVE ARTIS­TIC

LI­CENSE. THERE ARE LOTS OF STO­RIES THAT WE CAN’T SHARE IN THE MOVIES. THAT MAKES US LAG BE­HIND IN­DONE­SIA AND THAI­LAND. WE HOPE THAT WE WILL BE AL­LOWED TO HAVE A VOICE THROUGH OUR ART AND THAT THE GOVERN­MENT WILL TAKE

CARE OF THE PEO­PLE IN THE IN­DUS­TRY”

Baju Me­layu and sarong by ATE­LIER FITTON; Glasses by

DIOR HOMME

“My grand­fa­ther’s ad­ven­ture may form the essence of Pu­lang, but we also made the film as a trib­ute to un­sung heroes, the sailors who helped stamp our coun­try’s name on the map,” Ah­mad Izham said in the same in­ter­view. “Not all of them came home, some started new lives in Liver­pool, Rotterdam and Sri Lanka. Pu­lang seeks to en­lighten Malaysians about them.”

Pu­lang is di­rected by Kabir Bha­tia from In­dia. It is writ­ten by Mira Mustaffa and Ah­mad Izham. It also stars Pu­teri Aishah, Azrel Is­mail and Datuk Jalalud­din Has­san. While it is a his­tor­i­cal drama, Remy ex­plored try­ing to get into the psy­che of Oth­man, imag­in­ing what it would have felt like to leave his fam­ily while try­ing to se­cure a bet­ter fu­ture.

“With most char­ac­ters, I try to ap­ply what I have been through in my life,” he says. “I can feel what Oth­man feels.” A film like Pu­lang, Remy says, is an ex­am­ple of how the Malaysian film in­dus­try is “get­ting there.” No doubt, he adds, Malaysian films still have a lot of catch­ing up to do com­pared to Thai­land and In­done­sia but the recog­ni­tion is in­creas­ing.

“There are a new wave of film­mak­ers who are mak­ing the ef­fort to sell their prod­ucts out­side,” he says. “They try to par­tic­i­pate in ev­ery film fes­ti­val. ”With Malaysia now herald­ing a new era, Remy hopes that there will be more ef­fort to de­velop the en­ter­tain­ment in­dus­try.

“It is said that the Malaysian film in­dus­try is go­ing down be­cause we don’t have artis­tic li­cense. There are lots of sto­ries that we can’t share in the movies. That makes us lag be­hind In­done­sia and Thai­land. We hope that we will be al­lowed to have a voice through our art and that the govern­ment will take care of the peo­ple in the in­dus­try.”

For him­self, Remy as­pires to go be­yond the “typ­i­cal male lead role. I try to be bet­ter ev­ery day,” he says. “The pro­duc­ers and the ac­tors want to do some­thing else but the au­di­ence some­times want the typ­i­cal sto­ry­line. We can­not feed them the same thing over and over again but we have to change slowly.” AM

“WE HOPE THAT WE

WILL BE AL­LOWED TO HAVE A VOICE THROUGH OUR ART AND THAT THE GOVERN­MENT WILL TAKE CARE OF THE PEO­PLE IN THE IN­DUS­TRY”

Glasses by FOS­SIL

MANY YOUNG MALAYSIANS ARE PROB­A­BLY NOT AWARE OF THIS BUT IN THE 1940S THERE WERE MANY LO­CALS WHO SOUGHT THEIR FOR­TUNE BY BE­COM­ING SAILORS ON BOARD BRITISH SHIPS. ONE SUCH IN­DI­VID­UAL WAS OTH­MAN, A FISH­ER­MAN FROM MALACCA WHO WANTS A BET­TER LIFE FOR HIM­SELF AND HIS FAM­ILY.

Remy Ishak fronted our Au­gust is­sue back in 2012

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