The Day I Met The Lady Behind Petronas Commercials

It’s every filmmaker’s dream to produce a film that touches hearts. Intentionally or not, films send across messages to the general audience. To me, a film has captivated hearts when it tells a story so personal yet universal values are still able to shine through. I was taught that the significance of good literature is the values it portrays.

Momsy and I managed to catch Yasmin Ahmad’s Muallaf last Saturday at The Picturehouse, and I’m proud to say that her fifth film is my first at the big screen. Sepet, Gubra and Mokhsin were either Eid specials on Suria or DVDs borrowed from others. Though it was difficult to part with the $20 I paid for the tickets since I just finished school and am currently job-hunting, Muallaf was worth more than the money I paid.

The story of two sisters who run to escape the wrath of their abusive father seems to be a cliche, but the twists and turns Yasmin Ahmad managed to handle kept the story alive. The faint scent of romance between Rohani and Brian seems all too familiar to me. A Muslim girl and a Chinese boy – I could feel my very own version of Sepet through Muallaf. Somehow, I wanted the person next to me to be him though it was really my mother’s shoulder that I was lying on.

My fascination with Muallaf, however, was the character Rohani. I cannot say more because I despise spoilers and I do know of friends who really want to watch Muallaf but have yet to do so. When the film I ended, I realised it was contemporary dakwah! Even my mother agreed to it. I promised myself to buy the DVD when it’s released so I can share it with my friends at Fityan Ghufran.

After the film, we went to the Q&A session with Yasmin Ahmad and the cast. Initially, I didn’t want to ask anything because I might sound too juvenile. I mean, this is Yasmin Ahmad we’re talking about! Right there, less than 10 meters in front of me was the director I am still in love with (metaphorically). Then after a few questions from the audience, none of them were asking the question I was dying to know. The question that ought to be asked to the director of every film made.

I slowly raised my hand and waited to be acknowledged, “What was your inspiration, Ms Yasmin?” I swear to God, my heart was pounding so loud that the entire lounge area could hear my heart thumping.

“I was inspired by the man I almost married,” she answered, then looking cautiously at her husband on her right before everyone roared with laughter. Yasmin Ahmad went on explaining how she felt that her relationship with the man ended on a good note, making sure I understood what she meant.

And I understood her perfectly.

Yasmin Ahmad renewed my faith in making films that comes from the heart, to touch other hearts. Thank you, Ms Yasmin.

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