The Sun (Malaysia)

The accidental actor-director

> Filmmaker Jason Chong has worked his way through the entertainm­ent industry and is now trying his hand at all genres of movies, including his first romantic drama, Kau Takdirku


BRING a box of tissues with you when you watch Jason Chong’s first attempt at directing a romantic drama. Kau Takdirku ( above, left) is a love triangle that promises to make you weep.

Opening in cinemas on Sept 7, the film centres on Kamar (played by Remy Ishak), who is secretly in love with Alya (Ezzaty Abdullah).

Unfortunat­ely, she regards Kamar only as her good friend. In fact, she is in love with Remy’s best friend Harris (Bront Palarae), who is a diving instructor.

Eventually, Harris and Alya get married, leaving Kamar heartbroke­n. But as fate would have it, Harris is lost at sea, and is presumed dead.

Alya has a hard time accepting his death. To bring some stability into her life, Kamar marries her.

The new couple raise a child together, until one day, they learn that Harris is still alive.

Now, Alya has to choose between the two men who love her.

“It is a beautiful love story that is engaging, and will make the audience question what choice they will make if they are in Alya’s situation,” says Chong. “I certainly [would] not want to be in her situation.”

This is the first time the 43-yearold director is helming a love story. His first effort was the thriller Belukar ( 2010), while his subsequent projects were of different genres: a monster movie, and a horror film.

Chong has high praises for the cast of his latest film, adding that they were a joy to work with.

“This is Ezzaty’s first feature film,” says Chong. “She has to play a wife who has lost her husband, and also [play] a mother. But she is young and has not gone through those experience­s. I had to ease her into the role.

“She worked very hard, and I am glad to say that she delivered the goods in the end.”

He adds that Ezzaty managed to hold herself up well against the two veteran lead actors.

When asked about the message behind his film, Chong says: “When you put money in a bank, you will get the interest. Unfortunat­ely, love does not work like an investment.

“Sometimes, when you love someone, you may not get the same emotion in return. Your love will go unrequited. But love is supposed to be unconditio­nal.”

Chong never dreamt of a life in showbiz. “I was so poor that I did not have a television in my house,” he says. His father was a lorry driver, and his mother was a housewife.

“My two sisters and I had to peek through our neighbour’s window just to watch television shows [on their TV set].”

Interestin­gly, his childhood dream was to be an astronaut. “I thought it would be cool to travel to outer space,” he says.

Later, he wanted to join the army and serve his country. But being the only son in the family, his mother forbade him from enlisting.

“My mother kept telling me that good boys never become soldiers,” he says, laughing out loud.

Eventually, Chong became a model at the age of 18. After several years in the entertainm­ent industry, Chong realised he preferred working behind the scenes, and became a casting director.

When one of his talents did not show up for a TV series shoot, he decided to fill in himself.

“I’m an accidental actor,” he says, starring in several television and film production­s, and eventually making the move to work behind the camera.

He learned the art of scriptwrit­ing and directing through observing other directors, and by researchin­g online.

“There is a wealth of informatio­n on the internet,” he says.

Kau Takdirku has several memorable underwater scenes, which were not easy to shoot.

Interestin­gly, his next film will also have a lot of underwater scenes.

That film will focus on the lives of our Malaysian coastguard­s, and the dangers of dealing with hijackers at sea. Shooting will start at the end of the year.

Chong’s next dream project is to direct a war film, harking back to his youthful army ambitions. He is currently writing a script for the film.

“I [have] always had a high respect for people who put their lives at risk to defend their country,” he says.

“This film will be the closest I will get to my childhood ambition of being a soldier.”

When asked what is the biggest change he would love to see in the Malaysian film industry, Chong says: “In the 80s, we were making less than 10 movies a year.

“But now we are making about 60 to 80 movies. There are far too many Malaysian movies in the market.

“As a result, some good movies have gone unnoticed. We need to produce fewer movies, but more quality ones.”

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