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Researching historical documents to come up with a story that was as factual as possible, he said a total of 80 per cent of the script was based on books about the Birch murder written by the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