Take a vow

Hus­band and wife in­vest their own money to pro­duce Kerja Kah­win, a lo­cal movie about tra­di­tional Malay wed­ding cul­ture.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Showbiz - By ANGELIN YEOH en­ter­tain­ment@thes­tar.com.my Kerja Kah­win is show­ing in cin­e­mas na­tion­wide. For GSC show­times, see next page.

IN 2015, tra­di­tional medicine prac­ti­tioner Zabir Suli­man and his aca­demic wife Liza Mar­wati Mohd Yu­soff de­cided to ven­ture into the lo­cal film in­dus­try. They formed pro­duc­tion com­pany Wayang Padu and made their first film Kerja Kah­win.

They in­vested at least RM400,000 of their own sav­ings to fund the film di­rected by An­wardi Jamil, with Datuk Ros­nani Jamil, Sha­harud­din Thamby and Janna Nick cast as leads.

Kerja Kah­win de­picts how a fam­ily ma­tri­arch played by Ros­nani gets her fam­ily and com­mu­nity to­gether for the wed­ding of grand­daugh­ter Farah (Janna).

Along the way, they en­counter a lit­tle bit of wed­ding drama such as an ov­er­en­thu­si­as­tic mak an­dam (who in­sisted that the bride put on blue eye­shadow) and a for­get­ful man tasked with get­ting the Tok Kadi (mar­riage of­fi­ciant).

Dur­ing an in­ter­view in Shah Alam, Se­lan­gor, Liza – a soft-spo­ken for­mer Univer­siti Ke­bangsaan Malaysia lec­turer – shared that the idea for Kerja Kah­win came out of frus­tra­tion with typ­i­cal lo­cal movie of­fer­ings.

“My hus­band and I don’t come from a film back­ground. We just love the arts. Per­son­ally, we feel that most lo­cal movies tend to fo­cus on gang­ster­ism and un­re­al­is­tic love sto­ries. We felt like we have to do some­thing about it,” she said.

Liza, 44, was also spurred by her hus­band’s belief that ac­tion speaks louder than words, and just like that, the plan to get Kerja Kah­win made was set into mo­tion.

They were par­tic­u­larly pas­sion­ate in mak­ing a movie about tra­di­tional Malay cul­ture.

“We need a movie that rep­re­sents our cul­ture in a bet­ter way. We want oth­ers to see us from a dif­fer­ent point of view,” she added. In par­tic­u­lar, 61-year-old Zabir hopes to high­light some for­got­ten as­pects of tra­di­tional Malay wed­ding cul­ture through Kerja Kah­win.

“Malay wed­ding events are be­com­ing a sim­pler af­fair as time goes by. I thought why not show­case el­e­ments like inai, dance, silat and pan­tun (po­etry).

“We also de­cided to show the tra­di­tions of jo­get lam­bak (crowd danc­ing to­gether) as it was some­thing I re­mem­bered from my child­hood,” he ex­plained.

Kerja Kah­win was filmed in Janda Baik at Ben­tong, Pa­hang, and pro­duc­tion was com­pleted in a week.

Prior to its re­lease, Liza and Zabir sub­mit­ted Kerja Kah­win un­der the in­ter­na­tional ti­tle A Very Malay Wed­ding for screen­ing at film fes­ti­vals in France and Italy.

Liza said the re­sponse was pos­i­tive: “At the One Coun­try One Film Fes­ti­val in France, some view­ers asked if we could bring the film and present it as a the­atre per­for­mance.”

As to rea­sons why it took two years for the film to fi­nally be screened here, Liza and Zabir were not very forth­com­ing. There were ru­mours that the pair lost their mar­ket­ing fund to an un­scrupu­lous party.

“Kami orang bodoh (we’re fool­ish peo­ple),” was the re­ply Zabir gave.

Liza ex­plained it was sim­ply due to their lack of ex­pe­ri­ence in the lo­cal film in­dus­try.

“The prob­lem is re­ally due to our lack of ex­pe­ri­ence. We were led into many dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions. We thought we had an un­der­stand­ing then it turned out to not be what we ex­pected.”

Liza ad­mit­ted the un­cer­tainty of Kerja Kah­win’s re­lease date was stress­ful and that the process of get­ting the film to cin­e­mas was hard. She even­tu­ally came to terms that hard­ship was part of their jour­ney.

“Well, there is that mon­e­tary con­cern but we have to be coura­geous and take risks. Our main goal is show the au­di­ence the mes­sage in our movie,” she ex­plained.

Through it all, she cred­ited her hus­band for stay­ing op­ti­mistic through­out the whole process.

“He is very zen. He be­lieves ev­ery prob­lem can be solved. I guess that’s what makes us work well to­gether. We un­der­stand each other. We don’t need words some­times to con­vey how we feel,” Liza said.

— Hand­out

Farah (played by Janna) agrees to a tra­di­tional wed­ding cer­e­mony to please her grand­mother Mak Tok.

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