ACCOMPANYING Redha is a song called Abah, sung by 18-year-old Umar Hasfizal. Diagnosed with autism at age two, Umar has been performing since he was 10.
He’s released two mini albums, both of which are available on his website, umarhasfizal.com.
“Alhamdulillah, I really enjoyed Redha,” says Umar after the screening in GSC Pavilion, adding that he was saddened by one particular scene. “I really enjoyed working with the Redha crew, and I had many good experiences with them.”
Umar’s song repertoire ranges from I Dreamed A Dream (from Les Miserables), when he was 12, to Josh Groban’s You Raise Me Up that he sang on LiteFM for the National Autism Society of Malaysia fundraiser last year. He is also a talented Al-Quran reciter, which can be heard on his second album, Doaku.
A song on Doaku called Ibu caught the attention of Redha director Tunku Mona Riza Tunku Khalid. She followed up with an invitation to Umar to contribute to the soundtrack, working with the film’s music director, Monoloque.
“The first time I saw Umar perform I was slightly worried because as he sang, he became excited and his voice got louder,” says Loque of Monoloque. “That’s just his character but my concern was about microphones and other technical aspects.”
“However, after meeting him and his family, I was stunned. I sang in the demo for Abah, and Umar improvised it and made it his own. According to his mum, he wants to sing like Anuar Zain! But really, he’s a professional in the studio and it was very special working with him,” Loque adds.
Umar’s father, Hasfizal Mukhtar says his son has singing engagements every weekend this month but they’re careful not to put him under any pressure.
“He’s still young, and furthermore, autistic. His mental age is still somewhat a few years behind. We’ll continue to encourage him in music but we’ll do it slow and steady,” says Hasfizal.