Happy home­com­ing

The up­com­ing Chi­nese New Year flick Home­com­ing is a joy­ous cel­e­bra­tion of fam­ily re­union and Malaysia-Singapore co-op­er­a­tion.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - Sto­ries by NOORSiLA Abd MAJid

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.

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