Datuk Ma­hara­jalela epic starts film­ing to­day

New Straits Times - - Entertainment -

AF­TER spend­ing a year on re­search and an ad­di­tional six months on script, 1875 is ready for take off.

Cost­ing RM13 mil­lion to make, this big screen epic, cour­tesy of di­rec­tor Im­ran Ismail and his com­pany Ma­ia­manja Pic­tures, tells the story of Perak no­ble­man and war­rior Datuk Ma­hara­jalela Pan­dak Lam of Pasir Salak.

“Much has been said in books and plays about Datuk Ma­hara­jalela, who fought Bri­tish colo­nial­ism and was ex­e­cuted af­ter a trial found him guilty of mur­der­ing Bri­tish Res­i­dent J.W.W. Birch in 1875.

“How­ever, most sto­ries of the war­rior didn’t get close to the man, and sim­ply re-en­acted his sup­posed role in Birch’s mur­der,” said di­rec­tor Im­ran, who also co-wrote the script with Muha Aziz.

Re­search­ing his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments to come up with a story that was as fac­tual as pos­si­ble, he said a to­tal of 80 per cent of the script was based on books about the Birch mur­der writ­ten by the Bri­tish.

“The main book we re­ferred to was Malay Sketches by for­mer Fed­er­ated Malay States Res­i­dent-Gen­eral Sir Frank Swet­ten­ham,” he added.

Im­ran, when met at the film’s press con­fer­ence at Con­tent Malaysia Pitch­ing Cen­tre in Plat­inum Sen­tral, KL Sen­tral in Kuala Lumpur on Tues­day, said 1875 would be his per­sonal take on Datuk Ma­hara­jalela’s story.

De­scrib­ing his film as a “hu­man­i­sa­tion” of the war­rior’s strug­gle, he said it would high­light his close­ness with his fam­ily, es­pe­cially his wife Toh Puan Long Li­jah, who en­cour­aged him to “fight the Bri­tish to the fin­ish”.

Most sto­ries about Datuk Ma­hara­jalela have min­i­mal or no fe­male char­ac­ters, but Im­ran’s film will in­clude some im­por­tant fe­male char­ac­ters, who are the wives of the war­rior’s as­so­ci­ates.

“The story is not only told from the war­rior’s point of view but also from that of his wife and the wives of his as­so­ci­ates.

“My new film strives to give a voice to the un­sung hero­ines of the bat­tle against colo­nial­ism, who stood by their hus­bands till the very end.”

The brain­child of Malaysian Film De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (Fi­nas) chair­man Datuk Mohd Khu­sairy Ab­dul Talib, 1875 is also sup­ported by the Perak State Gov­ern­ment via KPerak INC Cor­po­ra­tion and Fi­nas, which has in­jected RM1 mil­lion into the film project.

The film will see the in­volve­ment of more than 300 ac­tors. Among the main stars are Aman Graseka, Wilma Muham­mad, Ard Omar, Sara Ali, Ka­ma­rool Yu­soff, Zarina Zain­ud­din and Joanna Bessey.

Film­ing be­gins in Pasir Salak around the ac­tual res­i­dence of Datuk Ma­hara­jalela, and other parts of Perak such as Batu Ga­jah, Kam­par and Teluk Intan on May 22 and will last 33 days.

1875 will be re­leased next year. Present at the press con­fer­ence were Mohd Khu­sairy, KPerak INC Cor­po­ra­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Mohd Nazarud­din Mohd Yu­soff, Fi­nas deputy di­rec­tor-gen­eral (man­age­ment) Azmir Sai­fud­din Mu­talib and Sek­i­jang mem­ber of par­lia­ment Anuar Ab­dul Manap. By Den­nis Chua


Muha Aziz (front row, cen­tre) with the cast and crew of ‘1875’ at Con­tent Malaysia Pitch­ing Cen­tre in Plat­inum Sen­tral, KL Sen­tral in Kuala Lumpur on Tues­day.

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