The upcoming Chinese New Year flick Homecoming is a joyous celebration of family reunion and Malaysia-Singapore co-operation.
Homecoming is a joyous celebration of family reunion and Malaysia-Singapore co-operation.
EVER since his film directorial debut Ice Kacang Puppy Love (which he also starred in) ended up a sleeper hit earlier this year, the gifted Malaysian musician-turned-filmmaker Aniu has become hot property in the Chinese movie industry.
One of the big-name auteurs that was hot on his trail was Jack Neo, the Singaporean comedy genius who gave us a good laugh via Money No Enough, I Not Stupid, Ah Long Pte Ltd and Where Got Ghost?.
“Director Neo called me up right after he saw Ice Kacang Puppy Love to ask me if I would work with him,” Aniu told selected Malaysian press right after he, Neo and company held a news conference in Singapore to announce their new collaboration Homecoming recently.
“He said he wanted me for his horrorcomedy. I told him I couldn’t do it because I’m afraid of ghosts.” Well, he was just just kidding. Neo wanted the boyish 34-year-old folk singer/songwriter-actor/director to come AS the only Malay talent cast in Homecoming, Afdlin Shauki is the chosen one. “Somebody called 911 and found me,” the popular Malaysian actor/comedian/screenwriter/director sang over the phone in Kuala Lumpur.
Jokes aside, the jolly Johorean, who was unable to make it for the press conference in Singapore, says “the Singaporean producers did some research on me and picked me over a few other names that had been suggested to them”.
But it wasn’t easy for Afdlin to say yes to the offer. With two other movie projects under his expanding belt ( Untuk 3 Hari and Appalam – the Tamil version of his smashing hit Papadom, in which he doubles as actor and director), the 40year-old is snowed under with work.
“I like the idea of doing my first Chinese New Year movie and working with a strong cast that features Jack Neo, onboard a decidedly non-ghoulish venture. Homecoming is a heartwarming Chinese New Year dramedy set for release next year.
“I found him and the Singaporean dollar hard to resist,” Aniu quipped with a laugh.
Jointly made by Malaysia’s Double Vision and its Singaporean partners, Homecoming tells three different stories of Malaysians living and working in Singapore and their mad balik kampung rush to have reunion dinners with their families. It is sort of based on the experience of the director, Penang-born, Singapore-based Lee Thean-jeen.
The movie, in a mix of Mandarin, English, Malay and some dialects – a reflection of the multi-racialism unique to Malaysia and Singapore – features location shoots in Kuala Lumpur and the Lion City. The shooting was briefly held in KL from last weekend till yesterday.
Homecoming’s cast includes some of the most recognisable actors here and across the Causeway. Apart from Neo and Aniu, it stars Malaysians Afdlin Shauki, Yeet Koe and Huang Wen Hong as well as Singapore’s Mark Lee and Rebecca Lim.
Most interestingly, Neo plays Aniu’s mum in the comedy! “He looks pretty as my mum,” said Aniu in his deadpan humour and trademark Hokkien-accented Mandarin. “He has to be pretty in order to have a cute son like me.”
This marks his second project with Neo. He first guest-starred in the latter’s hit, Liang Po Po The Movie, in 1999. Incidentally, in the movie Neo famously crossdressed as the title character, granny Liang.
“I know director Neo quite well. I acted in his movie when I was just a kid,” joked Aniu. A big kid at heart yet a doting dad, the Penangite says his biggest inspiration for his role in Homecoming is his nine-yearold daughter. “She’s my carbon copy. She looks like me, talks like me and takes after my personality.”
What a team! (From left) Huang Wen Hong, Aniu, Jack Neo and Mark Lee comprise the main cast of Homecoming, a Chinese New Year movie jointly produced by Malaysia’s Double Vision and its Singapore partners.
Director Lee Thean-jeen.