I just came back from watching the premiere of 29 Februari at Sunway Pyramid. Wrote the script with Edry KRU who is also the director and screenwriter. Watching it was a jog back in time.
Fresh off Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa, around the week when the last showings were done for that epic adventure, I was called to have a drink with a KRU emissary, a herald if you will. It was at Mahbub, Lucky Garden.
I was thinking at the time that there will be a cheque for me or something, but the herald, Johan, told me something so crazy, so ambitious, I thought I needed to give it a whack.
They were going to do a stereoscopic 3D movie, using the latest technology, to tell the love story of an immortal, with Malaysian history as a backdrop.
I was like, 'what the fuck? They're really gonna do this?' I mean, action is great for 3D. Adventure, thriller, horror, even comedy. But melodrama? Melodrama 3D? How is that gonna work? It was a puzzle so difficult, so complex, I thought at the time no one in Malaysia had the balls to do it.
It was a challenge - a creative challenge - I could not ignore. Because I knew there was a way, and I was curious as to how they were going to do it.
So, I signed up. Got my first payment and all, and we started writing. Writing movies, actually doing anything in movies, is a collaborative process. There are few auteurs in Malaysia who has complete control, but the reality is that a lot of movies are done based on consensus.
So we wrote. Draft after draft. After Merong, I no longer keep count. Hack here, slash there, add here, etc etc.
I even found myself in a cold Genting hotel room, with a few other people, typing on a MacBook Pro which kept giving me small electric shocks - cause I hate Macs and they hate me back - just wishing the writing process was over.
And then it was in the can, fast forward a year plus later, after I found myself a new job at Media Prima, and just before Raya, Norman replied to my Selamat Hari Raya SMS. He invited me to the premiere of 29 Februari.
So I asked, as usual, "Can my sister come along?" I always watch premieres of movies I've done with my sister. She has been the only consistent person who have been supportive in my writing career.
Tonight, we went and watched it, and I was happy that the kind woman two seats from me was crying. It was a melodrama after all, and I fashioned 29 Februari in earlier drafts on Mere Naam Joker - a legendary Bollywood movie.
In all honesty, 29 Februari is better than I expected. It's mostly good, and much of the themes of time, unconditional love that transcends physical beauty, a sense of responsibility, belonging and mortality are preserved.
I am always happy and thankful to see my written work translated to other forms, and I am always grateful to the teams who put all four of the movies I have written together. I can't thank them enough for allowing me to be part of something bigger.
So far, there have been MySpy, Magika, Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa and 29 Februari. I'm currently working on two or three more, with a few special projects along the way. One animated movie with KRU will probably come out when it's done.
It's been a wonderful, wonderful ride - a journey into a world I thought I could only dream of after I'm 55 and retired, trying to sell the movie rights to my books.
To everyone involved - the cast, the crew, the audience - I thank you again.
* 29 Februari will be screened in cinemas all over Malaysia on August 30