THE UPCOMING Disney live-action remake of Aladdin will mark the first time that Disney will be releasing a Bahasa Malaysia-dubbed live-action film on the big screen.
In the past, Disney Studios has dubbed content into Bahasa Malaysia for TV movies, such as High School Musical 2, and animated feature films such as Frozen.
This live-action remake of Aladdin is based on the 1992 animated version of the classic Arabian Nights-inspired tale, and stars Mena Massoud as Aladdin and Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine.
Both the original English-language and Bahasa Malaysia versions will premiere in local cinemas from May 23.
Voicing Princess Jasmine is none other than singer-songwriter Shila Amzah while Aladdin is voiced by Anugerah Juara Lagu 2018 and 2019 winner Hael Husaini.
Shila and Hael not only dubbed the dialogue for the two leading characters into Bahasa Malaysia but they also sang the Bahasa version of the songs in the movie.
Shila, who has already made a name for herself in the Chinese market as a Mandopop singer and has released songs in both English and Mandarin, said: “For me, I feel honoured that I got to do this.
“I had watched Aladdin (the animated version) in 1992 and so I feel it is like a dream come true to be a part of the Disney family.”
The 29-year-old singer from Kuala Lumpur added that she can relate to Princess Jasmine.
“I am a firm person but I also want to be heard. Sometimes, people look at my age and just don’t take me seriously.
“Working on Jasmine, I am reminded of how people did not take into account my views before.”
Shila said that it was tough doing dubbing work for a character, as she has never done this before.
“I did not expect to get the job. Acting in front of the camera and in a sound studio are two very different things. You really need to be in sync with the character.”
Shila also spoke about the song that she recorded for the film, Raungan Suara, the Malay language version of the film’s original song, Speechless.
“This is the hardest song I have recorded, given my condition,” she said, referring to her pregnancy, adding that they did all the recording for the dialogue and songs back-to-back.
“[But] I felt I could do this song, because I had been in her place. I am sure you will like it.”
She added that they recorded two versions of Raungan Suara – one for the film, and a more pop version for general release.
Much like it was for Shila, providing the voice of Aladdin was a huge deal for Hael, 32.
He said: “I feel honoured and proud to be a part of this, especially since Aladdin was this legendary film among my generation. When I got the offer to audition, I tried my best and ... ta-da! I am here with Shila Amzah.”
The two also share a duet in the film, Dunia Baru, which is, of course, the Malay version of the iconic A Whole New World.
According to Shila, they recorded their parts for the duet separately and only met up for the video.
Shila said that while working on the film, they also listened to other dubbed versions of the song, with Hael cheekily adding that none came close to the “pregnant lady’s version”, referring to Shila.
But turning serious, he said they did not want to pressure themselves to live up to people’s expectations of the original song and film.
“We can only sing and dub it to the best of our ability.”
Walt Disney Company’s vice president of Studio, Live Entertainment and Music (South Asia) Tom Batchelor said that they have planned to release over 40 dubbed versions of Aladdin around the world.
He said that Disney has a global dubbing team, which has achieved the gold standard when it comes to dubbing.
Batchelor added that while dubbing is an important part of the post-production process, casting takes the longest time.
“First and foremost, the voice has to be authentic,” Batchelor explained. “It has to feel exactly right for the character, and [must follow] a level of consistency for all the creative dubbing voices around the world.
“If you take it back to the original voice, in this case Naomi Scott, it feels that the images that you are seeing and the voice you are hearing have a natural home with each other.
“In the case of our dubbed films, when you have dialogue and vocals, getting an incredible voice is key and that is what we have in Shila.”
As to why Aladdin had the honour of being the first live-action Disney film for the big screen to be dubbed in Bahasa Malaysia, Batchelor said: “It is about the movie itself.
“In Malaysia, we haven’t done a lot of dubbing. It is something we look forward to doing more in the future.
“A lot of times, we are led by our audiences on how they want to hear their heroes who they see on screen.
“We have done that quite a few times over the years. If we think it is the right project at that time, then we will take the decision to dub.”