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(From left) Ahmad Yazid, Lubon, Yasmin and the stars of the Merdeka documentaries and specials. NSTP/NURUL SHAFINA JEMENON

BADMINTON legends Cheah Soon Kit and Kwan Yoke Meng always count on 92 as their “lucky number”. For 1992 was the year they rocketed to international fame as part of Team Malaysia, the winners of the Thomas Cup 1992.

Cheah said: “It was a win beyond our imaginations. We didn’t believe that we beat powerhouses Indonesia in the finals and earlier China in the semi-finals, but I pinched myself and it was real!”

Kwan added: “But behind the scenes, we trained real hard, pushed ourselves, encouraged each other and braved injuries. I also had to deal with the pain of losing some belogings in a robbery.”

The strength, determination and tenacity of the national shuttlers who also included Rashid Sidek, Foo Kok Keong, Datuk Razif Sidek, Datuk Jalani Sidek, Soo Beng Kiang and Rahman Sidek are in Astro’s new Merdeka documentary called Serve And Smash: The Thomas Cup 1992.

It is the first of three documentaries in the annual Road To Nationhood series produced by Lydia Lubon and director Ahmad Yazid.

Lubon says that in the last two years, they focused on the struggle for Independence and the formation of Malaysia. “This time, we want to tell the stories of our great sportsmen who put us on the world map in badminton, football and boxing.”

Ahmad Yazid adds, “We want to celebrate the fighting spirit of Malaysia’s icons in sports, and show viewers how they braved various challenges in and outside the stadiums to bring home gold and glory.”

The first documentary in the series, Serve And Smash, is screened tomorrow on Astro’s channels Hello (110) at 10pm and on Arena (801/HD 802) at 10.30pm. And on Sunday, Prima (105/HD 121) screens it at 9pm, and Awani (501) at 3pm.

FIGHTING SPIRIT

Lubon says that Serve And Smash charts Malaysia’s extraordinary road to badminton glory, through the eyes of a some of the best badminton players the country has ever seen. “It was a feat that has never been repeated, and this is the very first documentary about them.”

The production team spent seven weeks interviewing the badminton players, national footballers who won the Suzuki Cup 2010, and national boxer Sapok Biki, early this year to come up with the three-part series. “We had 19 interviews with the sportsmen, coaches, sports association officials and their loved ones,” Ahmad states.

“Each interview took two to three hours, and we learnt a lot about the men, their fighting spirit and their values. What made us admire them was their undying love for the nation and their embrace of Bangsa Malaysia.”

Cheah and Kwan say that their win in the Thomas Cup 1992 would always be “etched in their hearts and minds”.

“Not just us, but all of the players in Team Malaysia. We recently had a reunion, and we’ve always kept in touch with them,” Cheah, who is a businessman, says.

“And our dear friend Datuk Lee Chong Wei has always told us that the Thomas Cup winners of 1992 will always be his number one inspirations,” Kwan adds.

MANY MORE ACHIEVERS

The second part of the series Tigers Resurrected: The Suzuki Cup 2010 is screened on Sept 7 on Hello at 10pm, and on Arena at 11.30pm. Awani screens it on Sept 8 at 3pm and Prima on Sept 9 at 9pm.

It highlights Malaysia’s historic win over Indonesia in the Suzuki Cup 2010 finals at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

The third part Sapok Biki — The Iban Boxer will air on Sept 16 on Hello at 10pm, and Arena at 11.30pm. Catch it on Sept 17 over Awani at 3pm and on Sept 18 on Prima at 9pm.

This segment charts Sapok’s steady climb to Gold glory through international tournaments in Thailand, Cuba, Uzbekistan, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Another interesting documentary on Astro is the two-part Tun Dr Mahathir: Perjuangan Belum Selesai on Prima at 9pm on Sept 16 and 17.

Produced by Basir Siswo, it is a tribute to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the architect of modern Malaysia who served as the fourth Prime Minister for 22 years, and who made a remarkable comeback as the seventh Prime Minister last year.

At The Equator, We Sing will air on AEC (301/HD 306) at 11pm tomorrow. This documentary, made in six months after more than 100 interviews, revisits the history of Malaysian Chinese pop music and captures the challenges facing the industry. Among the singers interviewed are Malaysian Idol 2 winner Daniel Lee, and Alvin Chong.

Work To Live, on AEC on Sept 1 at 8.30pm, highlights the determination of young practitioners of various traditional arts to preserve fading legacies. They are doing their utmost to revitalise games, dances and crafts in contemporary ways.

Astro customers can enjoy over 40 multi-lingual Malaysian films and documentaries for free on a dedicated Malaysiaku HD Channel (CH 700) from today till Sept 17.

MEMORIES

These films and documentaries showcase the diversity and multi-culturalism of Malaysia, and remind Malaysian viewers of the country’s rich heritage. The titles also reveal history and inject a sense of pride in the younger generation.

The Malaysiaku channel presents, among others, Tan Sri P. Ramlee’s classics

Pendekar Bujang Lapok, Do Re Mi, Ali Baba Bujang Lapok, Nujum Pak Belalang

and Sergeant Hassan; Yasmin Ahmad’s Sepet, Gubra, Talentime, Mukhsin, Rabun and Muallaf; as well as the more recent blockbusters — Ola Bola and The Journey (directed by Chiu Keng Guan), Hantu Kak Limah (Mamat Khalid), En Veetu Thottathil (Karthik Shamalan), Munafik 1 and 2 (Syamsul Yusof), Paskal (Adrian Teh), and Abang Long Fadil 1 and 2 (Syafiq Yusof).

The other specials include #JomPolam which features host Thia Lakshana’s travels around the country to witness and experience traditional arts and crafts as well as intriguing traditions. This travel programme is on Vaanavil (201) at 8.30pm tomorrow.

Younger audiences can enjoy a three-day marathon of the mischievous twins

Upin & Ipin at 1pm on Ceria from tomorrow, and pre-teen superhero BoBoiBoy in

BoBoiBoy The Movie on the Disney Channel (615) at 6pm on the same day.

Apart from these, Surely Malaysian on Hello, Sept 2 at 8.15pm, is a relaxed, informal and educational look at Malaysian cultural stereotypes in hilarious ways, and My Story on Ceria at 11.45am, tomorrow, tells incredible stories of Malaysians who have dedicated their lives to national unity and harmony.

Last, but not least, viewers can enjoy the Oh Malaysiaku song and music video featuring Rocketfuel talents Usop Noor, Masya Masyitah, William Tan and Lil J (Vijay Raj) as well as Ceria Megastar Ministar graduates Timah Noryya, Cici Paimin, Eiffel Paulus and Aliff Idham.

They will also have their own special show, Ceria Megastar Merdeka on Ceria (611) at 10.30am tomorrow. Here, they take a trip around Kuala Lumpur to celebrate Hari Merdeka where they explore popular tourist attractions and perform Datuk Sudirman Arshad’s popular songs.

The Astro Merdeka specials were launched recently at Kaki Makan Restaurant in MyTown Shopping Centre, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur by Astro vice president for content strategy, international and GenNext businesses, Yasmin Megat.

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