Scary suc­cess

Hor­ror flick Mu­nafik makes a killing at the box- of­fice.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SHOWBIZ - By MUM­tAJ BEGUM en­ter­tai­ment@ thes­tar. com. my

ON the first day Mu­nafik opened in cin­e­mas na­tion­wide on Feb 25, the film earned about RM200,000. It’s a de­cent fig­ure for any lo­cal fare, but com­pared to Syam­sul Yu­sof’s 2011 film KL Gang­ster – which earned RM1.5mil on its first day – the fig­ure did worry the di­rec­tor a lit­tle. Scratch that, make it a lot.

“I had a fever that day! As did my father ( pro­ducer Datuk Yu­sof Haslam),” shared Syam­sul, who not only di­rected the film but also wrote the screen­play and stars in it.

Five days into the screen­ing, the film’s box- of­fice earn­ing jumped to RM2.9mil. As of Mon­day, the film has earned RM8.5mil – some­thing that Syam­sul said he didn’t an­tic­i­pate.

“Usu­ally, there’d be a drop af­ter the first week­end, but there were still plenty of peo­ple watch­ing Mu­nafik on Mon­day and Tues­day.”

Ac­cord­ing to him, the hor­ror film is also re­ceived in Sin­ga­pore and Brunei where it is be­ing screened.

“I saw pho­tos of women in burkha and men wear­ing kopiah go­ing to the cin­e­mas in Brunei. That was just amaz­ing to me. I am so proud the movie is gar­ner­ing a new kind of crowd to watch it.”

Mu­nafik re­volves around Us­taz Adam ( Syam­sul), a Mus­lim med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner, who is ag­o­nis­ing over the death of his wife. Un­able to cope with the tragedy, Adam has stopped help­ing peo­ple in need of his spe­cial skills. But when a woman who is in se­ri­ous trou­ble seek his help, Adam has no choice but to help the damsel in dis­tress.

The film has Syam­sul recit­ing Qu­ranic verses in or­der to fight the un­nat­u­ral forces caus­ing the dis­tur­bances. Ac­cord­ing to him, there isn’t any film like this in Malaysia.

“Mu­nafik has cre­ated a new genre: Is­lamic hor­ror movie,” he said.

As with any fic­tional story that car­ries a strong mes­sage about a re­li­gion, Syam­sul did his re­search for five months in­clud­ing at­tend­ing ser­mons at the mosque, talk­ing to religious men and read­ing up on the sub­ject mat­ter.

He also had the op­por­tu­nity to watch how an Is­lamic med­i­cal prac­ti­tioner helps a pa­tient. “It hap­pened to one of my neph­ews and we had to take him to see an Us­taz.

“Mu­nafik is not a true story, but kind of based on what hap­pened to my nephew. What I want to put across with the film is that, what­ever hap­pens, it’s a test from God and we have to per­se­vere.”

The film is get­ting a lot of pos­i­tive feed­back from the au­di­ences who have left mes­sages on so­cial me­dia about Mu­nafik’s en­ter­tain­ment value as well as the lessons from the film. “I got a lot of per­sonal mes­sages on Twit­ter and In­sta­gram thank­ing me for mak­ing Mu­nafik. A lot of them have said, they’ve been wait­ing for a film like this.”

The 31- year- old had also at­tended pub­lic screen­ings – al­beit incog­nito – to see the au­di­ences’ re­ac­tion.

“There were a lot of scream­ing, even from men,” shared Syam­sul with pride. “They were also shocked at the end­ing; I saw some peo­ple cry­ing.”

How­ever, the suc­cess of Mu­nafik might not nec­es­sar­ily mean Syam­sul will stick to this genre.

“I have al­ways made film from dif­fer­ent gen­res,” stated Syam­sul. “I want to be a ver­sa­tile di­rec­tor who can tackle dif­fer­ent gen­res, be it a love story, com­edy, ac­tion or hor­ror.”

He added: “The suc­cess of Mu­nafik has given me the ma­tu­rity and the con­fi­dence to in­ject some Is­lamic el­e­ments into my films. Whether it’s mi­nor or ma­jor, that is de­pen­dent on what the sto­ry­line dic­tates and who the char­ac­ter is.

“Ob­vi­ously, in Mu­nafik the main char­ac­ter is an Us­taz, so the Is­lamic el­e­ments is un­der­stand­ably high.”

He is cur­rently writ­ing the script for his next film, Tai­long – which re­volves around Rosyam Nor’s vil­lain­ous char­ac­ter, last seen in KL Gang­ster 2 – which he plans to start shoot­ing on May 1.

As to why the au­di­ences are lov­ing Mu­nafik, Syam­sul the­o­rised: “Any film with longevity – films like Ti­tanic, The Sixth Sense – has one thing in com­mon: a story that touches the au­di­ences. No mat­ter how much money you pour into mar­ket­ing the film, it’s not go­ing to get the trac­tion if the story is not re­lat­able.

“Malaysians are very selec­tive about what they watch. It all boils down to story- telling.”

is cur­rently show­ing at cin­e­mas na­tion­wide. For GSC show­times, turn to P17.

siti will be joined by Ang­gun, Af­gan, cakra Khan, Faizal Tahir and hafiz at her up­com­ing con­cert. — rAJA FAIsAL hIshAN/ The star

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