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A story of death & hope

Film director Khairi Anwar and film producer Tan Meng Kheng talk about their first feature film, Mentega Terbang

04 May 2021 / 10:17 H.

WHAT happens to us after we die? The Malaysian film Mentega Terbang boldly delves into this subject.

The plot centres on 15-year-old Aishah, who has a difficult time dealing with the fact that her sick mother is slowly dying.

Eager to know if she will connect with mother again after death, Aishah begins exploring her own faith as well as that of her friends.

Will she find the answers she is seeking?

Playing Aishah is stage actress Syuma Shalin.

The cast also includes Firdaus Karim, Nik Waheeda and Arjun Thanaraju.

Made under the banner of Anomalist Production and Meng Kheng Entertainment, the 105-minute film was budgeted at RM10,000.

Selected viewers have already been impressed by the story during private screenings.

Khairi is directing his first feature film. - Mohd Amirul Syafiq Mohd Din/theSun
Khairi is directing his first feature film. - Mohd Amirul Syafiq Mohd Din/theSun

The original story idea came from director Khairi Anwar, who co-wrote the script with Arjun and two other writers – Visshnu Varman and Ti Teng-Hui.

A big fan of the late Yasmin Ahmad, the 29-year-old binge-watched a series of her films during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“My favourite Yasmin movie is Muallaf,” said Khairi, who runs Anomalist.

Muallaf tells a story of three people finding solace through religion.

“The stories she tells are unique. But we do not want to copy her. We are putting our own spin to our story,” said the producer, Tan Meng Kheng, who is a big fan of Yasmin’s Sepet.

Mentega Terbang is about a young girl researching her own religion as well as the religions of her friends. - Picture courtesy of Anomalist Production
Mentega Terbang is about a young girl researching her own religion as well as the religions of her friends. - Picture courtesy of Anomalist Production

Mentega Terbang is Khairi’s directorial debut in feature films.

He has directed a number of award-winning stage plays and his stage works have travelled to Singapore and Indonesia.

He has also made waves at short film competitions.

His works, such as Colourful and Ralat the Musical won nominations at the BMW Shorties 2019, where Ralat won the Audience’s Choice Award.

This is also 34-year-old Tan’s first feature film production.

Before Mentega Terbang, Tan produced his first short film with director Sidney Chan called TINAPA (This is Not a Petrol Ad), which won Best Overall Production, Best Director and Best Script in the Short & Sweet Festival 2019 (Film Category).

He is also a stage actor, and has worked under Khairi’s direction.

Tan wants to tell Malaysian stories. - Mohd Amirul Syafiq Mohd Din/theSun
Tan wants to tell Malaysian stories. - Mohd Amirul Syafiq Mohd Din/theSun

Tan admires Khairi for pushing boundaries with the stories he tells. It created an eagerness in him to work with the director.

Yet, there are critics who fear that they are courting controversy, using religion as a movie theme.

“There is such a thing called comparative religion. I do not mind exploring other religions,“ said Khairi.

Nobody should be condemned for believing in something different, added Tan, who commended the cast for their solid performance.

”It was not my priority to put famous names in the movie. I was just looking for actors who suited the characters. A good story can sell more than a famous name,” said Khairi.

“You have cases where stars with huge followings on social media are thought to make a film an instant hit. But that is not always so,’’ added Tan.

Tan and Khairi believe the story should be the true star of a movie and nothing should overshadow it.

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