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New blood

Erra Fazira plays the beautiful Nur Ashikin who loses her father and is physically scarred during a robbery, in the TV movie Parut Ashikin.

Publication Date : 15-06-2012


It’s hard to believe that local production house Balang Rimbun only started operating early last year and has already snagged four awards in one of Malaysia’s biggest television awards shows, Anugerah Skrin.

It’s even harder to believe that the man at the helm of the business is only 27.

Balang Rimbun managing director Syahid Johan’s interest in filmmaking first sparked while watching a play as a kid.

“When I was around 10, I saw a theatre production called Sungai Mengalir Lesu directed by A. Wahab Hamzah. Right away, I knew that this was what I wanted to do,” he recounted during an interview recently.

Syahid then went on to pursue a degree in film and television from Deakin University, Australia. Upon completing his studies, he worked on numerous productions there. Syahid also paid his dues while working on the musical Terima Kasih Cinta, an adaptation of the 2006 hit movie Cinta staged at Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur.

Before launching the company, the entrepreneur spent a year trying to pitch the award-winning Sanggul Beracun to TV channels all over the country, before Astro Citra picked up the proposal. All along, Syahid was confident of pulling through.

“I knew right from the start that I had something good in my hands and one of the TV stations was going to accept it,” he said.

Syahid also attributed his confidence to what he referred to as “the Sabri touch”.

Sabri Yunus is one of Malaysia’s most prominent actors with an illustrious career spanning over three decades. But in a move he described as “a natural transition into a new phase in life”, Sabri has taken the back seat on acting, putting on the director’s hat instead. Sabri shared that this career move happened by chance after having to rewrite the script to Sanggul Beracun as he was unsatisfied with it.

“My colleagues encouraged me to try my hand at directing since I already managed to come up with the new script,” recalled Sabri.

Unknown by many, way before the Pi Mai Pi Mai Tang Tu star got his big break, he worked as an artist for Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka. Syahid shared: “Backed by this ability to capture his imagination on canvas plus his experience with working on the set as an actor, Sabri definitely has an edge over the other directors.”

So much so that Sabri’s directorial debut won him the Best Director (Drama) award in the Anugerah Skrin 2011. The film also won for Best Videography, Best TV Screenplay and Best Drama.

As such, it’s not too far-fetched for one to predict that their sophomore project Parut Ashikin will probably nab another award or two this year. The telemovie begins with the appearance of a beautiful woman, Nur Ashikin (Erra Fazira), at a religious class taught by Ustaz Muas (Eman Manan). To avoid rumours of a scandal going on between them, widower Muas decides to wed Ashikin. However, their marriage is short lived when Muas discovers a scar on her body, reminding him of the atrocities he committed during his youth.

You see, 20 years ago, Muas killed Ashikin’s father and scathed baby Ashikin while attempting to rob their house.

Tormented by guilt, Muas pledged to turn over a new leaf, teaching faithfully at the religious class ever since.

But when Ashikin discovers the truth, she starts to toy around with the idea of avenging her father’s death.

“Parut Ashikin sheds light to the conflict that plagues the human heart. Ashikin is torn between the man Muas once was and the man he is today. She may be eager to kill Muas for his past wrongdoings, but she also realises that Muas has changed and is now a dutiful husband who respects and treats her well,” explained Sabri.

The telemovie marks the first time that actors Erra Fazira and Eman Manan are paired together. Sabri shared that casting Eman was a no-brainer as the actor’s religious knowledge and martial arts skills fitted the role perfectly while Erra was given the role following her convincing portrayal of Siti Aminah in Sanggul Beracun.

Syahid and Sabri have big plans in the pipeline. These new bloods are hoping to bring a positive change to the local entertainment scene by improving the quality of content in their productions. “We don’t want our shows to be telling ghost stories all the time, we want to put out shows that make people think and add value to their lives,” Sabri said.

For instance, Balang Rimbun’s upcoming series Kelas Bahasa Arab features Chinese and Indian characters that are looking to learn the Arabic language. The two were purposely included into the Malay-dominated classroom to dispel the notion that learning Arab is limited to a certain race only. Additionally, Sabri plans to do a TV show that sheds light on the little known Kelantanese Chinese culture. Efforts such as these are Balang Rimbun’s way of improving the state of our entertainment industry.

“Change has to start within our company first and hopefully, it will spread to the rest of the industry,” Syahid aptly concluded.


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