After a long 12-year wait, Malaysian audiences are now able to watch Dain Said's "Dukun" for the first time since its alleged ban that halted the movie's release, which was initially scheduled for December 2007.
The movie follows Karim, a desperate father in search of his lost daughter with the help of the seductive yet sinister Diana Dahlan, a witch doctor (dukun) who practices black magic.
The movie stars Umie Aida, Faizal Hussein, Ramli Hassan, Hasnul Rahmat, Nam Ron, Bront Palarae, and Elyana.
At the "Dukun" gala premiere held at Suria KLCC recently, Cinema Online managed to get lead actress Umie Aida to talk more about her experiences taking on the challenging title role.
Cinema Online: How do you feel about "Dukun" finally releasing after 12 years?
Umie Aida: It was 1 April when I first heard that it was going to be released; I thought to myself, "why only now?" and I honestly don't know how to react to the news. But of course, I'm very excited and happy that it's finally out.
What were your preparations for this role? Was there anybody you referred to for the character of Diana Dahlan, dead or alive?
[Laughs] I know what you're getting at but no, I didn't refer to a person for this role. Instead, I referred to a snake: a python. I had a snake with me at all times for two months just to learn its manners and its movements.
You had a snake? A real snake?
Yes, it was real! I studied it, petted it, lived with it; even to the extent of me sleeping with it on my bed just to really get the mannerisms of a snake. The beauty of its gestures was what I brought to the character of Diana Dahlan in this movie.
Was that the hardest thing to do for "Dukun" or were there any parts or scenes in particular that you had a difficult time with?
The scene where my character gets possessed was the hardest one for me, and physically draining too because we spent eight hours just for that scene. With the filming taking place at the real Pudu Prison, I had to be strong mentally and spiritually because, you know, the stories we hear of this prison. So I had to control myself at that place and not simply mess with things there.
Were there any supernatural happenings there?
Yes, I personally had one myself. It happened at the last cell. I stared at that room and said out loud, "What do those prisoners feel knowing that they're going to die the next day?" And it hit me within seconds. I was out of breath and I couldn't control myself from this feeling. I was panicking but I didn't want to cause a scene there. So I gathered myself and try to fight it back and lucky for me, it went away.
Did you continue on with the shoot after that?
I was so lucky to have a director like Dain because before we continued on with the hanging scene, he surveyed the execution room first and also felt a bit uneasy with the place. Like something was off. So he came to me and asked if I was comfortable with doing the scene there. I said I was okay but truth be told, I wasn't. And I guess Dain noticed my nervousness, so we switched to a mock up room instead.