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Unexpected partners

Writer: Peter Chai

Director Ahmad Idham.

As one of Malaysia's most prolific directors, Ahmad Idham did not get to where he is now by letting up his pace. With his latest film, "Gerimis Mengundang", which is also a musical love story already out in cinemas, it is clear that this veteran is trying his best to transfuse new blood to the local filmmaking industry by casting Indonesian talent Olivia Jensen Lubis in the role of the female lead alongside home-grown heartthrob Kamal Adli. In addition, Ahmad Idham also discovered Azwan Annuar, who turned out to be one of the director's greatest discoveries in recent years, as this newfound blogger became the one to churn out the script for "Gerimis Mengundang". Together, this unlikely duo managed to conjure up their very own version of a tragic love story for the silver screen that was adapted from a theatre play of the same name, to be enjoyed by the local audience as well as moviegoers in Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore.

Cinema Online had an interview with Ahmad Idham and Azwan Annuar at TGV Sunway Pyramid, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.

Q: Hi, Ahmad. What inspired you to shoot "Gerimis Mengundang"?
Idham: Whenever people mention the phrase "Gerimis Mengundang", what comes to our minds is the classic song that it came from. Until now, it is not only Malaysian audiences, but Indonesian audiences as well who are still in love with the tune composed by the band Slam. It has become a brand and a beautiful memory for all of us. I told my team that we could use it as our strategy to expand our movie market in Indonesia. Of course, I also shot it because I want people to watch a different kind of love story, one that is based on the soul of the song.

Q: In your opinion, what are the aspects of the movie that attracts people to watch it?
Idham: The settings, the people and the culture of Malaysia and Indonesia. We have so much in common. While watching the movie, the audience will surely notice that there are many "big" and luxurious assets used such as big houses, big cars and so on. We are using them to create a "wow!" factor among the Indonesian moviegoers. They admire those things.

Q: Did the cast performances live up to your expectations?
Idham: They did. Kamal has done a great job in his role as Zamani. Just looking at his image, you'll be compelled to keep your eyes glued to the screen. I know that females love looking at a male character that looks macho and Kamal is definitely that. He did well in showing off his manly, masculine and mature characteristics.

Q: What about Olivia?
Idham: Her beautiful looks have definitely made it a plus for her as it is what I wanted in my movie's female lead. However, Olivia's not just a pretty girl. She can really act and she is just 18 years old.

Q: You have spent so many years at the director's seat. Which movie have you directed that is your favourite so far?
Idham: I have to say "Niyang Rapik". I love the nature scenes in this movie and this time you can also feel the beauty of nature in "Gerimis Mengundang".

Azwan Annuar.

Q: Azwan, what is the inspiration for you to write the script for this movie?
Azwan: The song, no doubt. I wrote the movie specially based on the song and I hope that people who watch it will be able to look at love from a different perspective as that is what the song is about.

Q: What is the difference between watching "Gerimis Mengundang" in theatre and enjoying the drama in cinemas?
Azwan: They are two different things. When you watch it in theatre, you are looking at a live musical performance. In the movie, you will be brought into the conflicts of the story as you can see different scenes taking place at the same time and there are more realistic looking settings. It is an alternative way to illustrate the bittersweet relationship between the characters and the meaning of "Gerimis Mengundang".

Q: So, how is your experience working with director Ahmad Idham?
Azwan: One word: proud! He's the one who discovered my talents in writing and I'm grateful that "Gerimis Mengundang" is first movie script that I wrote in my career.

Q: How would you rate the performance by Kamal Adli and Olivia Lubis Jensen?
Azwan: At first, they were lacking chemistry. But as time goes by, they would have had spent a long time with each other on the set, so eventually they managed to develop chemistry between themselves for their own characters. Bringing them together in the film is the right choice.

Q: Which is your favourite Hollywood movie in 2012?
Azwan: "Battleship". I love the action scenes in that film, especially watching the ships at war on sea.

Q: What about your favourite local film?
Azwan: I would say "Songlap". The movie had covered both the dramatic elements and artistic elements very well. You can see a balance between those two elements.

Q: Thank you for your time, Ahmad and Azwan.
Idham: Thank you very much. Please support my movie!
Azwan: Thank you.

Cinema Online, 06 June 2012