Faizal Hussein’s most challenging character yet in Bunohan has earned him gold, writes Dennis Chua
HE comes from silver screen royalty and has very much followed his versatile father’s footsteps. Faizal Hussein, the much-respected and multiple award-winning actor from Malacca, learnt the tricks of trade from his late father, actor and director Hussein Abu Hassan who shone in roles as a villain in the 1960s.
He fondly remembers his father’s words of wisdom that a good actor ought to play the good, the bad and... the funny.
And he has done all three — funny in the comedies Gila-Gila Remaja and XX Ray, good in Bujang Selamat, Tak Kisahlah Beb, Tuah and Bayangan Maut, and bad (though not evil) in Leftenan Adnan, Getaran, Gerak Khas The Movie 2 and his most recent win, Bunohan.
Faizal was the 25th Malaysian Film Festival (FFM25) crowd favourite to win Best Actor for his role of an assassin in Bunohan, the Best Film directed by Dain Said and co-starring Pekin Ibrahim and Zahiril Adzim.
Born in 1967, Faizal has starred in more than 100 films and television series. He made his film debut when he was just 5, in Darah Panglima, starring alongside his father. When he was 15, he starred in Senja Merah alongside the late Latif Ibrahim and Datuk Yusof Haslam, who would, later, work closely with him. His other notable films include Kanta Serigala, Fantasi, KL Menjerit, Pontianak Menjerit, Jalang and 2 Alam.
While Faizal looks fierce on screen, he admits that he actually smiles and laughs a lot more than viewers think.
“I had a great time on the set of Bunohan because director Dain and fellow actors Bob (Zahiril) and Pekin are satu kepala (similar minded) with me,” he says. “The four of us have a common passion for making great movies with strong storylines and character developments.”
Faizal is still open to playing goody characters but he is more at home with baddies and slightly crazy characters.
“Ilham, my character in Bunohan is a complex character and a dream role. He’s ruthless. He kills. But he is also loyal to the memory of his mother and family heritage,” he says.
While Hussein has always been his sifu, Faizal looks up to his multi-talented cousin, Rosyam Nor, who acted with him in the iconic Gila-Gila Remaja and later joined him in KL Menjerit, yet another story of bikers.
Faizal won Most Popular Actor at Anugerah Skrin 1993 for Fantasi. On the small screen, he was most recently part of the cast of hit series Skuad 994.
Although like his elder sisters Dilla and Fairuz Hussein and his cousins (Datuk Khadijah Ibrahim and the late Latif), he also sings, acting is his first love. He has even hosted game shows, most notably Kosa Kata.
“I believe in giving my all to every role because acting has always been my passion. I find satisfaction whenever a bad guy character is jeered at, a heroic character is loved and a funny character is adored.”
In his acceptance speech, Faizal said it was “great to act with crocodiles” and he thanked them for not attacking anyone despite the cast and crew disturbing their natural habitat.
“Ilham is my most challenging role to date, as he is gritty, like the story which is filmed amid remote villages and the wilderness of the coast.”
He admits that speaking Kelantanese Malay was a challenge, but he is happy to have mastered it.
“Dain is a true actors’ director. I also admire superb actors and directors Eman Manan, Fauziah Ahmad Daud, Datuk Rahim Razali and Ahmad Yatim,” he says.
Bunohan not only won Best Film, Director (Dain) and Actor (Faizal) but also Original Story, Screenplay, Art Direction, Sound Direction and Musical Score at FFM25 held at Putrajaya International Convention Centre on March 2.
Maya Karin (who was not present at the awards) of Ombak Rindu won Best Actress while Syafie Naswip and Normah Damanhuri of Songlap won Best Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress respectively.
Songlap also bagged Best Cinematography and Editing.
Izzue Islam Mazlan and Jojo Goh of 29 Februari won Most Promising Actor and Actress respectively while Petaling Street Warriors won Best Non-Malay Film.
Datuk Aziz Sattar and Mariani Ismail were given Lifetime Achievement Awards for contributions to the film industry while Lai Meng and Mano Maniam won Special Jury Awards for contributions to television.
Two other Special Jury Awards were given to Vajram (Weapon) directed by M Subash and Rhythm And Hues for special effects work in Oscar-winning film The Life Of Pi. Ombak Rindu won the Box Office Award for topping ticket collections (RM11 million) last year.
Syafie, who also won for Talentime in 2009, thanked his late mentor Yasmin Ahmad for discovering and guiding him. “Mak Min changed my life. She raised me up to be an established actor. I’m eternally grateful to her,” he says.
Izzue says it is a great incentive to win.
“I’ve always been a fan of KRU and Remy Ishak. To prepare for my role as Remy’s blind buddy, I observed blind people selling baskets for a month,” says Izzue of group Forteen whose next film will be Ular by KRU.
Goh says 29 Februari is a beautiful story and she is delighted to share the Most Promising award with her co-star Izzue. “I was a VJ and acted in television series and Chinese films prior to this. I’ll soon appear in a Hong Kong film,” she says.
Normah has spent three decades in show business and is happy that her son Ahya Ulumuddin is following her footsteps.
“Playing the mother of Syafie in Songlap was something out of the ordinary and it’s a role to cherish forever. I look forward to watching my son’s new movie Tanda Putera — he’s done a great job,” she says.
Syafiq, who won Most Promising Director, says his father Datuk Yusof Haslam and elder brother Syamsul Yusof shared his win, as they have always been his sifu and critics.
The awards televised live on Astro Ria and TV2 at 8.30pm was attended by Information, Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim and was organised by the National Film Development Corporation (Finas).
Its co-hosts were Erra Fazira and Fahrin Ahmad (who had great chemistry for first-timers), while the awards presenters were Dharma Harun Al-Rashid and Noorkumalasari (who teamed up in past winning film Adik Manja), Mamat Khalid and Datin Paduka Umie Aida (Kala Malam Bulan Mengambang), Erma Fatima and Ridzuan Hashim (Hati Bukan Kristal), Nasir Bilal Khan and Sofia Jane (Perempuan, Isteri Dan ...), Datuk Rahim Razali and Fatimah Abu Bakar (Cinta), and Azhar Sulaiman and Fauziah Nawi (Sayang Salmah).
Each presenting duo entertained the audience by playing updates of their movie characters.
The duo which received the most cheers was Dharma and Noorkumalasari aka Cikgu Azmi and Cikgu Noraini of Adik Manja who brought back fond memories of their award-winning, disco-promoting romantic comedy.
There were entertaining performances of film theme songs by Ella (Teruja and Pemburu Bayang), Hazama Azmi (Aku Mahu Dia), Ziana Zain (Lagenda), Rahim Maarof (Syakila), M Subash (Yarma) and the cast of Rock Oo! comprising Que Haidar, Pekin Ibrahim, Khir Rahman and Soffi Jikan (Rock Oo! medley).
Ziana’s Lagenda tribute to actors and singers saw many of the country’s screen legends appearing on stage with her.