Trafficking in pain

DIRECTOR Bade Azmi daringly tackles the dark and risky topic of human trafficking in his latest film, Sindiket.

“A lot of Malaysian police action movies feature the subject of drugs,” explains the 52-year-old. “I wanted to be different.”

Opening in cinemas on April 6, the RM3 million movie centres on Inspector Rudy (played by Sharnaaz Ahmad) and Inspector Sabrina (Daphne Iking), who are trying to bring down a crime organisation under the evil Galang (Rashidi Ishak), who specialises in human trafficking.

At the same time, the film depicts what happens to the victims of human trafficking, by following two college girls Amira (Sharifah Amani) and Noreen (Liyana Jasmay), who are kidnapped and lured into prostitution.

Before writing the screenplay, and as a part of his research, Bade watched many documentaries and read a lot of reports on human trafficking.

“From my research, I learned that human trafficking is the second highest crime committed, after drug trafficking, in the world,” he says.

“There is a lot of money to be made from human trafficking, and that motivates many crime organisations to get involved.

“I would not be surprised that in the future, human trafficking may even [overtake] drug trafficking as the most committed crime.”

While it is a major part of his film’s plot, Bade explained that he wants to dispel the commonly-held view that human trafficking is all about kidnapping young girls and forcing them into prostitution.

“Human trafficking is more than just about young girls being duped into prostitution and sex,” he says.

“Sometimes, people of all ages, including children, get kidnapped and killed for their organs. Some are forced [into slave labour].

“Human trafficking is a painful subject. People are forced to do things that they do not like. The way I see it, human trafficking is modern-day slavery.”

Despite tackling such dark themes, Bade has made sure Sindiket has enough fast-paced action scenes to keep the audience entertained.

“I want my audience to be aware of this issue, but I also want them to enjoy the film,” he says.

“I do not want to present a documentary. I have to balance the seriousness of the subject with the entertainment value.”

Bade is more than familiar with what it takes to produce a good action film, having helmed acclaimed productions such as KL Menjerit (2002), Gangster (2005) and Castello (2006).

He says: “Some people have the impression that when you make an action film, you do not need a strong storyline, and [that] all you need are fast-paced action scenes.

“Let me tell you that they are wrong. Good movies are all about emotions and the only way you can stir emotions in your audience is if you have a strong storyline.

“If you look back at my movies, you will see that I always have a strong storyline [in them].”

Bade also talked about another one of his films, which is currently showing in cinemas – the historical biopic Kanang Anak Langkau, The Iban Warrior.

This film is based on the true story of decorated war hero and Iban warrior Sergeant Kanang Anak Langkau, who bravely fought the communists during the insurgency period from the 1960s to 1980s.

“All my previous films are fiction except for this one,” he says. “I have to make sure I do not run away from the facts. The last thing I want to do is to bastardise history.”

Bade wishes he could have spoken to Kanang himself as part of research for his movie but unfortunately, the warrior passed away in 2013.

Bade instead did the next best thing, and interviewed some of the soldiers who served under Kanang’s command.

He even spoke to the late sergeant’s family members.

“I wanted to get an [idea] of what this man was like,” he says.

Bade even managed to persuade the war hero’s youngest son, Corporal Langgi Anak Kanang – himself a soldier – to play his father in the film.

Others in the cast include Adi Putra, Johan Asari, Zach X-Factor, Adam Shahz, Livonia Guing and Ruzana Ibrahim.

“This movie is about people who made sacrifices so we have a safer nation,” he says.

“Only when we have a safe nation, we can progress, and we can have development.

“We must never take our safety and our freedom for granted.”