Saturday, January 29, 2005

A verandah in Penang.

Originally uploaded by yasmin the storyteller.
There I was, perched on a waist-high wall that separated the verandah of our hotel room from the garden that led to the sea.

Behind me, the night, and the distant applause of waves.

My husband was clicking away at the camera. I, on the other hand, was not even aware of his presence, my mind so wrapped up with the opening scene of "Gubra", swimming around in my soul...

A handsome young bilal is in haste. It is nearly dawn, and he does not want to be late for his call of the azan at the surau.

His pretty young wife follows him around the house, and finally to the front doorstep. She is carrying with her a cup of coffee and a biscuit. She wants him to take a gulp and a bite before leaving. She is persistent. After putting on his shoes, he does as he is told, kisses her on the forehead, wishes her salaam, pinches her butt causing her to yelp, and leaves.

On his way, he passes some dark alleys. His quick footsteps break the silence of pre-dawn. A dog barks in the distance, somewhere in the night.

Just ahead of the bilal's path, along a disconcertingly quiet back alley, two women step out from the back entrance of an old motel. They are both wearing fish-net stockings and stilletoes, very short skirts, see-through white blouses that betray the presence of black brassieres underneath, big hair, and very red lipstick.

Just as they cross paths, the older of the two women says to the bilal, "Lambat hari ni Pak Bilal?"

"Itulah," he replied, "anak saya demam batuk-batuk malam semalam, jadi saya terpaksa gilir-gilir berjaga dengan orang rumah saya..."

It becomes instantly clear in the course of their brief discourse that the bilal and the whores are good friends.

So tell me. Does that opening scene sound reasonably compelling to you? Or not, perhaps? Pray tell.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

We've decided to release "Sepet". Fancy a dollop of my humble pie?

humble pie
Originally uploaded by yasmin the storyteller.
Ros, my film producer, and I had a good long chat about "Sepet" and the censorship board.

I was dead against the eight cuts they imposed upon our film, of course. I mean, I could understand their problem with the expletives, and the scene where Harith, clad only in a pair of baggy Y-fronts, chases after his wife around the house. But the rest of the cuts, although insignificant, were unreasonable beyond belief.

So there I was, raving and ranting, as you might expect, and at one point, raising my voice unnecessarily.

That's when Ros looked me straight in the eye and reminded me of some fundamental things.

1) The fact that if "Sepet" didn't get released, we may never get our money back. To make "Sepet", Ros had to sell her car, as did Ujang the set designer and art director, and I had to draw practically all my savings. And if we didn't make our money back, we may never be able to make "Gubra".

2) "Remember why you wanted to make films in the first place," Ros whispered solemnly. I hanged my head in shame. We both knew perfectly well that we make films primarily to show Mak and Abah how much we love them. (Ros, whose parents passed away many years ago, was adopted by my parents just before we made "Rabun".)

Those two clinching arguments are why I now find myself eating the proverbial pie. If all goes well, inshaallah "Sepet" will be released in a couple of months. With the eight cuts which, come to think of it, don't even add up to a minute of screen time.

I hope you're not too disappointed with me. And more importantly, I hope you will catch "Sepet" at the theatres, and that it will move you in some way.

Jom tengok wayang jom?