Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Zaiton: Ceritaku (2012)

Nadia Aqilah is the best thing about Zaiton Ceritaku but it's too little, too late.

At a glance:
Me mum taught me the lyrics to Menaruh Harapan, the powerful ballad that immortalised Zaiton Sameon in that sequined red dress at Juara Lagu 1987, so as a fan I've been followin this project ever since I heard years ago that Upin Dan Ipin mastermind Burhanuddin Razdi and his wife Ainon Ariff paid the troubled songstress some RM10k for the rights to a biopic about her. It pains me to discover it might not be out of order to write that Zaiton Sameon is just plain bad luck. If the Zaiton: Ceritaku (2012) that fell short of grossin even RM 60k in its short-lived theatrical run is the end product that Burhanuddin Radzi dared to put out as his best foot forward, I wonder just how bad the earlier discarded Fauziah Nawi / Mislina Mustaffa version was?
Bad news on the doorstep:
Nadia Aqilah
This is a biopic of a fallen 80s star that everyone in the Malaysian entertainment scene knew - but that's no excuse to make a movie with only a long trackin shot in the openin moments to establish who Zaiton was. The best thing about this movie is Nadia Aqilah Bajuri (she does all the singin herself), so to open with a performance from her doin Zaiton's Kabut Serangkai Mawar is an excellent decision. However to follow that up with a long take that makes her come across as a bitchy primadonna does itself few favours. Why should we care for Zaiton if we're introduced to her as a spoiled star who goes around givin cheek sandwiches, speakin gedik English? It's an uphill battle from thereon in, tryin to connect us emotionally to Zaiton, no matter how hard Nadia cries or how messed up she looks. The direction of this movie under debutante (stand-in?) director Esma Danial is faulty but we can cut him some slack because at least he flat out admitted the movie tanked in its first week and refused to blame Skyfall (2012) for it, or that self-defecation of an unwatchable movie which opened on the same day, Budak Pailang (2012). Perhaps it's the direction of the project in the first place that is ill-conceived. One of the better reviews I've read on this movie happens to be one written by my ex-colleague and you can believe him when he tells you how bein sensitive to the subject, a livin person, has taken the life force out of the movie. The decision to wade in a shallow, soulless narrative has hurt the movie. Fuck larger than life - she appears petty and more mediocre than ever! Anyone in the payin audience who doesn't know who Zaiton Sameon was and is would ask: why does this story deserve to be told? In Zaiton: Ceritaku, instead of showin us somethin interestin like her vocal prowess or even the loss thereof, what came to be after the unfortunate events that almost claimed her life, we're given annoyin family squabbles and banal dialogue about fame and fortune, underscored by that repetitive Menaruh Harapan riff. One of the few scenes in the movie that actually had a little depth was the roundabout confession from Zaiton about wearin susuk. However, Zaiton had already lost us by then.
Perennial wonderment:
I was present at this interview with Mislina Mustaffa.
She claims she did her best and knows not why they didn't like her.
Will we ever get to see the discarded version? For what it's worth, my colleague at Tontonfilem and I both know this can be good business, not that it will ever come close to recoverin the money they spent on the whole project. Producer Burhanuddin Radzi told reporters he'll only let uni kids have a look at it for academic purposes but among the dejected responses you can read on the movie's official Facebook page, you can find one from the admin concedin it may not be out of the question to include the forgotten movie as a DVD extra. As Zaiton is currently makin its VOD run on Astro First, we'll just have to see what happens next.
Reminds me of:
Zaiton in her heydays.
Once I was havin a drink with a pub singer friend of mine and somehow I felt sorry for all the local musicians whose short shelf lives are always starin back at them from the bottom of a beer bottle. Will my friend find herself jobless some day with nobody to help her, I wonder? You can read interviews of Zaiton expressin her disappointment with some scenes in the movie depictin her as crazy, although she generally approves of the picture, concedin that she has signed the indemnity agreements and there isn't much she can do. Her mental state is all the more questionable when you watch videos of producer Burhanuddin denyin any wrongdoin and defendin himself by tellin the press she can even fail to recognise him on the premiere night, but we can give him credit for havin the tact to euphemise it as her "forgetfulness".
ZAITON SAMEON nadia Aqilah ceritaku melayu seksi penyanyi kelab malam 3gp MENARUH HARAPAN Malay girlsI can't remember if I cried:
When I saw production stills of Esma Danial muckin about with the crane on set. Wow. That was a quite a waste, wasn't it? My heart goes out to Burhanuddin Radzi and the hardworkin crew. The man has had no prior experience workin with film people bein largely an animation producer but had the money and the balls to call for a complete redo after the first failure and also to distribute the movie themselves under the banner Bruang Filem Sdn Bhd. I believe his heart was in the right place when he decided to make this movie.
Most memorable line:
None - but I do remember me dad tellin me that he once shared a beer with Zaiton durin her early days as a nightclub singer... or somethin to that effect.
Amacam joker, berapa bintang lu mau kasi?
If you sat through till the epilogue where Zaiton herself makes a short statement, you'd realise this ain't no Sunset Boulevard (1950). Kak Eton, I wish more could've been done for you but this was probably the wrong time to tell your story. ★★
Bonus material:
Producer Burhanuddin Radzi at the premiere.
Nadia Aqilah and Zaiton Sameon.

ZAITON SAMEON nadia Aqilah ceritaku melayu seksi penyanyi kelab malam 3gp MENARUH HARAPAN Malay girls
ZAITON SAMEON nadia Aqilah ceritaku melayu seksi penyanyi kelab malam 3gp MENARUH HARAPAN Malay girls
Zaiton Ceritaku: The movie that never made the cut.
Zaiton: The glory days of yore.