First-time director Shirin Khuzaimi collaborates with Riezman Khuzaimi to create production company Armnet's "Mencari Cinta", a love story that has stirred controversy around the nation for its supposed sex scenes. The film stars Rusdi Ramli and Nora Danish as the leads, who are thrown into an arranged marriage that neither of them are too happy about at first, but the couple eventually grow to love each other.
Cinema Online's interview with Shirin Khuzaimi, Riezman Khuzaimi and Nora Danish was conducted on 11 April at Cathay Cineplex, Mutiara Damansara.
Hi, Shirin! Congratulations on your first feature film!
Shirin: Hi! Thank you!
We noticed that Rusdi Ramli, who plays Razlan, did not choose to attend the premiere. Why?
Shirin: I'm not exactly sure as to why exactly he did not come today. All I know is that he said he was busy.
Will he appear in future promotions for the film?
Riezman: All our stars are invited to attend our promotional events as scheduled, but sometimes people's commitments clash, and if God is willing, they will come. But for tonight, Rusdi Ramli is not able to be here with us and we understand. We can't give them a hard time.
As directors, were you pleased about the outcome of the film?
Shirin: There were a lot of parts from the movie that I had to cut out. Almost half an hour's worth of content had to be removed to make the movie an hour and a half so that the audience will not be bored. I had to pick and choose the most important scenes for the film itself.
What did the half an hour of extra content have?
Shirin: Just more of the story itself, in depth, which is why when you watch the film, you will find that the story is moving quite fast.
Riezman: We had to remove the contents by scenes. We had to decide which ones we had to put in and which ones we didn't actually need.
Was this film conceived to be controversial on purpose? The poster seems to hint so.
Riezman: The poster doesn't really give anything away about sex. It is actually about romanticism and love. The poster and movie itself is surrounded by themes of love and care, not sexuality.
Nora, what do you feel like you've explored in the making of this film?
Nora: To me, I feel like the story is about love that only develops after marriage, so I think the director brought an interesting approach to the subject by adding in wordplay, so that the audience will understand more about the concept of love after marriage.
How well did you work with Rusdi Ramli himself?
Nora: It actually surprised me that he wasn't able to come today! When we were shooting, we have been on really good terms. When he works, he finds the most logical ways to do his job and he does it. He was also a nice guy at heart, so I have never had a problem with him at all.
We hear there will be a drama series for television based on this film. Can you tell us more about it?
Shirin: Yes, a drama series is currently underway for 40 episodes for RTM 1, and replacing Nora Danish and Rusdi Ramli are Elly Mazlein and Fizz Fairuz.
There was a scene in the film that looked like it was cut. What happened?
Nora: Actually that scene that was deleted was really cute. It was a scene of Rusdi Ramli picking me up after I stepped into a puddle.
Shirin: I was advised to cut that scene out because apparently "being carried off" wasn't appropriate.
So Riezman, how was collaborating with Shirin?
Riezman: It is my first time collaborating with her. For the film, my directing job was more on the technical side while Shirin concentrates more on the acting and the performance side of the film. Our collaboration makes it easier on us individually. For example, Shirin doesn't need to think about the technical side so she is able to fully concentrate on generating powerful performances from the stars.
Do you think the controversy in the film also helped you sell the film?
Shirin: It definitely did. Our movie has gotten a lot of attention from the public thanks to that.