SMFS: The Curse of Niyang Rapik Press Conference

I arrived at Eng Wah Suntec to see a string of crowd hanging around the box-office. Most of the crowd were teenage girls and some arrived with their boyfriends, making them stick out like a sore thumb.

The individual interviews were scheduled at 3pm, but due to traffic conditions, the cast and crew of The Curse of Niyang Rapik arrived a little late. I came into the press conference room, caught the eye of one of the cast, smiled and then quietly sat down with my Caramel Frappe from Starbucks. I quickly learnt that they were still having the mini press conference with winners from a Berita Harian (BH) competition.

I surveyed the table; Shahiezy Sam, Kamal Adli, Ahmad Idham and Awal Ashaari all looked tired but they managed to keep their smiles for the fans. You could see that the trio of actors – Shahiezy, Kamal and Awal – was the freshest face in Malaysian cinema. All three were tall, handsome and had a distinct character, not to mention that they are all still in their twenties and single – to the fans, at least.

Who can resist Awal Ashaari’s charming personality?

Kamal Adli looking cool while the interview takes place.

Ahmad Idham being interview by SMFS Journalist Nurul ‘Ain.

Shahiezy, dressed in a t-shirt and jeans combo with a gray leather jacket, would probably blend well with the crowd at Orchard Road together with his black wayfarer sunglasses. Kamal, the youngest of the trio at 24 years old, looked trendy with his colourful high-cut sneakers while Awal, probably the most sought after by the fans, was dressed for a concert complete with a checkered shirt and black vest. Ahmad Idham, Malaysia’s top film director, arrived in a casual combo looking smart and ‘abang-abang’ as usual. He was all smiles and ready to release his third horror film in Singapore.

Shahiezy Sam thinking hard about ‘Ain’s questions.

When asked what was the inspiration for The Curse of Niyang Rapik, Ahmad Idham simply said the location brought the story alive. “I go fishing at Kenyir once every four months, just to relax and be cut off from the hectic city life. So the last time I went there, I said to myself – I want to make a film here.”

Malaysians are all too familiar with Puaka Niyang Rapik, a hit TV3 horror series produced by Ahmad Idham as well. So it comes as no surprise that The Curse of Niyang Rapik would follow closely to the genre of thriller, adventure and horror. By my standards, The Curse of Niyang Rapik is the best horror film Metrowealth has ever produced, even better than Santau and Jangan Pandang Belakang.

From left: Isnor, Shahiezy, Awal, Me, Ain, Ahmad Idham, Kamal and Saiful.

I’ll let you guys YouTube the trailer for now, and oogle and the pictures which I know some of you might want to kill me for. I think I may already need a bodyguard, don’t you think?

Look out for a review from the SMFS Journalists tomorrow and a new SMFS column by yours truly next week on Monday.

The Curse of Niyang Rapik is released on 13 May 2010.

SMFS: Santau Media Conference

Stepping into Eng Wah Suntec, little was made known of the presence of 5 individuals who were responsible for the making of a box-office hit across the causeway. No red carpets, no paparazzi – just roaring laughter of students clad in school uniforms.

The main cast and crew of Santau (Whispers of the Devil) drove all the way from Kuala Lumpur to attend the premiere and media conference held at Eng Wah Suntec last Monday evening. Neither of them showed any signs of fatigue, or restlessness. In fact, they looked more than ready to answer queries by the young journalists of Obor from Berita Harian. Zul Handy Black, who plays the character of Man, even sang for the young crowd upon finding out his past musical career.

Ain interviewing Zul Handy Black

Meeting the cast – Esma Daniel (Halim), Putri Mardiana (Nina) and Zul (Man) – was a fruitful experience for me. Though I may not be an avid follower of Malaysian drama serials, I could recognize their faces having seen them on television. Esma, widely known as a television actor rather than a film actor, appeared to be a little bit nervous despite his attempts in making jokes to break the tension in the audience. Putri, who prefers to be called Nina (her nickname, not the character in Santau), was more relaxed and calm.

Esma Daniel looking all excited.

I must admit, I was a bit skeptical of Santau, after bad experiences with Jangan Pandang Belakang, Congkak, Jangan Tegur and Jangan Pandang Belakang Congkak – all by the Metrowealth International Group (MIG). I thought it was going to be “just another Malay horror flick”. That was when producer David Teo begs to differ. “Santau is not ‘just another horror flick’! By the end of the movie, you will cry. It will make a husband love his wife more and a boyfriend treat his girlfriend better. This film has soul!” – something of which you will be able to find out when you watch the movie for yourself.

Putri Mardiana looking sleek with her fedora and charming personality.

One thing I didn’t look forward to was listening to the stories the cast and crew went through during shooting. The tales of spirits lingering around the location, being hidden in the toilet and Esma being ‘possessed’ in front of the camera – they were all surreal to me. I refused to believe them – just so I could make it home alone without constantly looking behind my back. (Haha get it? Jangan pandang belakang!) Yet, knowing where my ancestral roots are, I have to admit their stories are as real as this blog entry. My grandfather was a medicine man, and he did have his fair share of friends from the other world. I wouldn’t be surprised if what happened to them on set were true.

Anyways, the part when Esma was possessed onscreen? Yeah they put it up. I wouldn’t spoil it for you but if one of the scenes look real enough, then that’s the one.

Mr MIG Davi Teo and myself

Moving on, I was more interested in the director, Azhari Zain, actually. Having been trained in film in an Australian university, he was very fluent in English, to my surprise. However, Zack, as he prefers to be known as, was even more shocked when David Teo approached him to direct Santau. After all, he was one of the newer directors in the Malaysian film scene. I must admit, though, he did carry a weight on his shoulders as the director. Horror flicks from Malaysian are infamous with the whole I-am-possessed-help-me themes. And I was a little bit skeptical before I attended the press conference. Upon hearing his background and his fluency in English, I was a little bit more hopeful.

The director himself.

Wrapping up, David Teo mentioned that reporters in Malaysia loved the film – even the worst critics gave their best comments. I am doubtful, even more so after saying, “In ten years time, Santau will be the best film Malaysia has ever produced!”

From left: Nina, Azhari Zain and David Teo

We shall see, aye?

SMFS Crew (from left): Art, Me, Kartini, Yassar, Saiful and Isnor