I'll have to admit, I'm finding it extremely difficult to pen down the events that transpired in the last 48 hours. It's almost surreal, watching a film that I instantly fell in love with, and on the same day, meeting the director and cast for an interview which turned out to happen over dinner, then the next day attending the world premiere of the sequel, and watching it with them in attendance. It's a simply amazing feeling, being drawn to the screen world, then meeting them in person, and sharing a conversation. I have so much to say and write about, that I really don't know where and how to begin.
Friends, most of you should know by now, that my favourite Writer-Directors include Cameron Crowe, Quentin Tarantino, and M Night Shymalan. Very diverse personalities producing very diverse works. Cameron I have met and spoken to in a very short 3 minutes which lasted for eternity during the local premiere of Vanilla Sky years back, while Shymalan and Tarantino, I just enjoy their works. I have a new favourite, and who would've known she actually hails a little closer to home, just across the Causeway, a truly fantastic lady, Yasmin Ahmad.
I have never imagined a meeting over dinner. We (Shaiful, Lokman and Richard) were supposed to interview Yasmin, Sharifah (Orked) and Alan (in Gubra) at about 1830hrs on Sunday for movieXclusive, the last of a series of interviews behind the mainstream media. Somehow it worked to our advantage(?) that the earlier interviews stretched, and we had to do ours over dinner (although initially we were hesitant if we were interrupting their meal), which actually as we found out, is the first full meal of the day for the trio.
But allow me to bore you with something else we did during the long wait. Like meeting at the Esplanade Library to borrow DVDs (and then during dinner, launched into discussions into those movies, like Richard's busty selections, and massb's Annie Hall, which was referenced in Gubra as we found out yesterday). And while thinking up questions to ask, Linus was there too to see us hard at work. But perhaps the craziest thing was to look for a Sony Mini-Disc player disc (eh?). Don't worry if you don't understand. We discovered, after walking around countless of shops in Funan, that it seemed to be an obsolete product. The players are sold, but not empty discs.
All this while we were waiting for the call to confirm the time and venue. And finally it came. Thomas informed us that we could conduct the interview over dinner at Westin's Kopi Tiam. Wow, it suddenly dawned upon us that we're meeting Yasmin! And Orked! And I'm sure all this while Shaiful's heart is beating like mad, haha!
The instant warmth Yasmin exuded, was infectious. And I was surprised too that she can speak Cantonese ah! After the usual pleasantries, we were at first dumbstruck at how to go ahead with the interview, as the venue, quite frankly, was more suited for meals rather than long conversations. But we were eager to hear what Yasmin had to say about the questions we had for her (although Sharifah did comment at some point that Yasmin's answers were all the same, to which Yasmin replied 'cos the questions were the same mah. Opps!) And she took a genuine interest in us too. Like Shaiful's upcoming play which she was so on to attend, but can't due to her scheduling commitments, and upon learning that we wanted to do short films, advising that short films are addictive, and for us to take that leap of faith to do features. Heh. She did find some of us familiar, and we learnt that she did visit Shaiful's blog before, as did we visit hers periodically.
We thought Sharifah Amani and Alan Yun looked visibly tired, but of course, after a full day of interviews, who wouldn't be? Fortunately, our interviews progressed from Q&A, to simply just having a very nice candid conversation amongst friends whom you know from a long time back. It really seemed that way. Wait. It was that way. We even had inside jokes and barbs traded, like our prediction on Shaiful's "Dark Side" question. It's simply amazing to discuss a wide range of issues, remarks on and about critics, some topics not pertaining to films, learning about one another, of Sharifah's love for Bollywood films, and of Alan's most memorable scene in Gubra (cannot say, spoilers leh! Heh!). Sharifah was very fiesty, more so than her character Orked in Gubra, if I can say so. Alan though was the relatively shy person amongst the three, but once he warmed up to us, he's like an army buddy, haha. Some of you might find him familiar (as did I), because he's a model, and has appeared in local ads before. Throughout the session, you can observe and feel the strong chemistry through the bantering between director and lead actress. Like no-holds barred siah.
You can probably read more about the session we had at the movieXclusive website by clicking on the logo below. And for the fans of Sepet who are wondering about the ending, and what it meant, we were so pleased to have heard the explanation from Yasmin herself. It's touching, and I think one that I can relate to. (I'll elaborate more when I post my review of Sepet).
Oh, before we called it a night, we had a group photo taken, courtesy of Thomas who became our photographer.
[LtoR] Alan, Shaiful, Me, Sharifah, Yasmin, Richard, Lokman
Yes, eat your heart out guys, I got hugged leh!
There's a little backstory of how I ended up where I'm standing. Suffice to say that it's all because of the "do you know how I know you're gay" joke that Richard had a penchant for, that didn't work against me this time :-P And yes, Richard became Yasmin's darling, you know? :-D
Yasmin, Sharifah, Alan, if you're reading this, Thank You for the friendship, and for the stories that touch so close to the heart.