by TV Smith
When was the last time you saw a local movie in which a Malay
girl and Char Siew appeared in the same scene? Writer-director Yasmin
Ahmad's enigmatic Sepet
pushed the frail envelope and fazed the mighty Censorship Board to (almost) no
end. Ironically, the film - like its title - is a clever allegory of the narrow-mindedness
afflicting present day Malaysian society.
relationships were previously explored within palatable context so as not to distress
fragile audiences. In this genuine Malaysian film, Yasmin throws every stereotypes
into the kitchen sink - a Malay scholarship recipient, a repressed Baba woman,
a bigamous Chinese man, a Melayu Celup, a Chinese VCD peddler, a Tongkat Ali dependent
- and even a road safety message. The only person missing is the Bhai guy. Out
of it, comes an honest and brilliant film woven around a tragic love story.
Choo Seong and Sharifah Amani play the star-crossed lovers whose parents are NOT
the usual party poopers. Jason (or Ah Loong) is a VCD seller trapped in the inescapable
underworld of protection and patronage. Orked harbours an unfulfilled fetish for
slit-eyed hunks like Takeshi Kaneshiro. The objections to this unlikely relationship
emanate from prejudiced peers, instead. Jason's best friend dissuades him with
dreadful thoughts of circumcision and halal food. Orked's male friend calls her
a slut cum bohsia and vilifies her for liking guys with mata sepet.
the spirited performance by Sharifah, fellow first-timer Ng was going through
the motions until one particularly memorable scene. At the hospital where his
best friend Ah Keong (Linus Chung) was recovering from a shark attack, the duo
alternated seamlessly between Hokkien, Cantonese and English. Many of the (language)
subtleties were unavoidably lost in the translated subtitles. This darkly funny
scene centered on Malay girls in sarongs, Hang Tuah and the origins of the Babas;
all skillfully done with a dash of the politically incorrect term - Huan Kia.
introspective trio of Harith Iskandar, Ida Nerina (as the parents) and Adibah
Noor (as the "servant") supplied many of the film's funnier and poignant
moments. How this ménage à trois came about was not fully explained
though. Nevertheless, Harith's amorous character spooked the Board too, I was
the enforced cuts as unreasonable beyond belief. In one scene, Jason said "Not
all Chinese men cheat and not all Malay men are lazy". Orked's smug retort
"That is where you are wrong; all Malay men are lazy" ended in
the guillotine. The director explained that the whole scene was done tongue-in-cheek
and it goes to show that Malays can joke about themselves.
watch this landmark Malaysian film before someone declares it immoral to laugh
© 2005 TV
Link to this article: http://www.tvsmith.net.my/duasen/230205_sepet.html