LOVE ON TRIAL.
Somewhere in the middle of "Sepet", a panel member who was nodding off at the back, was rudely awakened by the thud-thud-crash of his own songkok falling on the wooden floor. He bolted up, his severely thinning hair sticking out in all directions, looked around in slow-motion like a camel, picked up his songkok, slumped back into his seat, and went back to sleep.
As soon as the screening was over, the only woman in the appeal panel stood up, teary-eyed, and said, "Puan Yasmin, I enjoyed that film very much. Thank you both for making it. Congratulations."
My producer and I muttered under our breath, "Alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah, alhamdulillah."
Next in line was a Chinese man in his 50's.
"That's not a Malay movie or a Chinese movie or an Indian movie," he declared, "That's a Malaysian movie."
Rosnah and I heaved a big sigh of relief. Clearly, we were counting our chickens before they were hatched, because from then onwards, it went downhill.
"Why didn't you bring up the issue of religion?"
"Why didn't she try to convert him? The Malays would have liked that."
"Why did you make her walk into a Chinese restaurant where non-halal food was probably served?"
"If she's supposed to be liberal, why did you make her wear baju kurung all the time?"
"A long time ago, the Malay people had two bad habits. The men liked to lie down on the floor wearing only sarongs, exposing their tummies, while the women liked to waste time picking lice from each other's hair. Are you trying to revive these old habits?"
And of course, their coup de grace, articulated by a Dato':
"We represent the rakyat (the people). We showed your film to some members of the rakyat, and I'm afraid the verdict was not favourable. They want your film stopped."
To which I replied, "My mother always tells me that my rezeki (my lot in life) is in the hands of Allah, and not in the hands of people like you or anyone else."
And on that note, Rosnah and I thanked them, and bade our farewell.
The final verdict has YET to be made.