Director Chiu Keng Guan is known to touch hearts through his films. After 2014's "The Journey", he has now come forth with "OlaBola". The film about unity, teamwork, and harmony which releases on 28 January 2016, stars many fresh faces and has been generating quite the buzz as one of Malaysia's finest films to be made.
"Ola Bola" is set in the 80's and was inspired by true events, but Chiu took a turn and made it an original story instead.
During the premiere of "OlaBola" at GSC Berjaya Times Square on 11 January 2016, the film received two huge rounds of applause from the audiences. If that's any indication of how audiences would receive this film when it's released, then the movie is set to score big at the local box office.
Cinema Online talked to one of the lead actors of the film, Luqman Hafidz, and this is his experience working on "Ola Bola".
Can you tell me your experience working with actor Bront Palarae and director Chiu Keng Guan?
Luqman: I feel very lucky because not only did I get to work with Bront who is one of Asia's best, and the great director Chiu, but I also got to work with Uncle Frankie, who has won Best Actor awards at recent film festivals. So I feel very lucky and blessed to be surrounded by these big names and it is an opportunity for me to learn more from them.
Are you a football player?
I can play football, but not as a career.
How did you get to audition for this character?
At the time, I was completing my resume as I just graduated as a quantity surveyor. I received a Whatsapp message saying that Astro are looking for talents. So I sent in my resume and received a call soon enough. I went expecting to be an extra as I didn't know what 'casting' was as it was my first time. Turns out they were looking for a leading role and I feel very lucky because that was the time I met director Chiu on the field, and we played football together. It was at that time he shortlisted me as a character for his film.
What traits do you think you have that got you selected for the role of "Ali".
I feel that my movements on the football pitch played a part, because Chiu wanted someone who can really play the sport, and he came around just to teach us acting, that's why he gave us two months of acting lessons. I feel the reasons I got selected is because director Chiu liked the way I played football and I also feel that the character is close to me.
Did you feel it was hard to act? Did you feel pressured or was it harder than playing football?
I enjoyed myself while acting. Feeling pressured is normal as it was my first time, but it was worth it because I feel these opportunities come to you once in a lifetime. Doing a film about football which I'm passionate about since young, made me want to contribute something.
Is the character "Ali" that you portrayed a reflection of yourself?
There are similarities between myself and "Ali", but not as a whole.
Have you ever thought that you would be an actor?
I never thought that my entire life. Even when I was at UIA I did not join any theatre productions even though I like watching movies. I only had two months of acting classes.
What are your hopes for this film?
I hope the people of Malaysia can absorb all the positive values instilled in the film. We are not looking to break records, as what Chiu mentioned. He makes movies to have an impact on the people for the upcoming 10 or 20 years.
Do you think you will continue acting from here on out?
I really don't know but InsyaAllah if there are offers, I will take a look. I feel acting is so much fun, so if the offer is encouraging and beneficial, I will do it.
"OlaBola" is due for nationwide release on 28 January 2016.