Temuan Takdir’s cast of mixed talent tells Dennis Chua about their work
HE plays tough guy roles on TV and the silver screen.
Ery Zukhairi may not ring a bell to many, but he has been involved in a sting of movies and TV dramas over the last five years, including blockbuster Ola Bola, where he played the national football team’s military drill sergeant.
The Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) engineering graduate, who also has his own Shah Alam-based company, admires action heroes like Thailand’s Tony Jaa, and hopes to hone his skills and become a major action hero one day.
The Kuala Lumpur-born artiste has six movies under his belt including Flat 3A, Momok: Jangan Panggil Aku and Karipap-Karipap Cinta. He appeared in his first major role in Temuan Takdir as no-nonsense Inspector Shariff, who pursues three ruthless robbers in the heart of the city.
Temuan Takdir is directed by first-time director Dhyan Vimal.
“Temuan Takdir is really my cup of tea. It is action-packed with lots of stylish fight scenes,” says Ery. in an interview.
“But more importantly, it’s a realistic film most of us can relate to — it portrays tough cops like Shariff as human as possible, with emotions, needs and vulnerabilities.”
MANY WAYS TO CRY
A mix of old and new actors make up the cast. Besides experienced ones like Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan, Vanidah Imran and Datuk Zahim Albakri, there are also “freshies” Amai Kamarudin, Malieq Abdullah, Kiranjit Kaur, Azura Zainal and Thanuja Ananthan.
Of the lot, former Miss Malaysia Thanuja, travelogue host Azura, and Kiranjit are making their debut in a feature film.
Thanuja plays a strong and independent woman who falls for the mastermind behind the robbery. As a result, her character has to make a choice between justice and love, and a wrong move could be fatal.
On her experience working with Vimal, Thanuja says he is a gentleman, despite his no-nonsense looks and muscular build.
“It’s great to work with Dhyan, who is also kind and approachable. He made it very easy for me to fit into my role, and I have the highest respect and admiration for him.”
Her best experience on the set was learning to “cry”. “Dhyan showed me that there are so many ways to cry, and I had to learn not one but all of them, so as to suit each scene.”
While Thanuja plans to host or produce TV specials, documentaries and travelogues, her doors are always open to acting. “My dream role is to portray a totally different character... an X-Men style mutant maybe! I’d love to work with Dhyan again, since we had a fantastic time on the set.”
FROM TRAVEL TO ACTING
For Azura who has been hosting for 20 years and appeared in the sitcom Table For Two, she would also love to act in movies from time to time, since she loves challenges.
“It’s great to star in a similar project with Thanuja as we have worked together in documentaries in the past, and both of us are adventurous.
“In Temuan Takdir, I’m Shariff’s fiancee Ros. I may not be a cop, but I’m a strong, independent and brave young woman, who is concerned about his well-being and safety.
“I only got to know Ery when we got on the set, but we soon struck up a good conversation, and this helped us develop the necessary chemistry for our respective roles,” says Azura, who describes Ery as a fun-loving gentleman, despite his occasionally smug “Die Hard” look.
In future, Azura hopes to land some antagonistic roles. “I’m not into clear-cut villain roles. I’d prefer to be subtle baddies who appear nice when the story begins, but later show their true colours — I always believe bad guys and bad girls sell!”
However, producing and hosting documentaries will remain Azura’s top priority. “Acting comes in handy, to make me express myself more naturally and humorously in documentaries.”
First-timer Kiranjit manages a wellness company and is from Sungai Petani, Kedah.
“I play Vasantha, the girlfriend of one of the baddies, who is put in the same situation as Thanuja. While I don’t get much screen time, I’m happy that my first movie has been an exciting one which humanises cops and robbers.
“What Temuan Takdir tells viewers is that our boys in blue risk their lives every day to uphold the law, and their loved ones never have an easy sleep because they are constantly worried about the daily dangers they face.
“And as for the criminals, most of them are not born baddies but turn evil because of circumstances such as broken families and mixing with the wrong company,” says Kiranjit.
Kiranjit was invited to star in the movie by Vimal, since she has long wanted to act in a local movie which is realistic and educational.
“I love movies that are based on real events. Romantic comedies are my favourite too,” she adds.
“It’s great to star with Vanidah in my first movie, she’s a wonderful person off-stage who has given me lots of tips on acting. She told me that the key to grasping my role is to put myself into the character I play, and imagine I’m really the person called Vasantha.”
MAN OF FEW WORDS
While Zahim is normally associated with theatre, he is “always at home” appearing in movies.
“I’m once again a man in uniform. The last time I remember being one was in 2007 where I played British High Commissioner to the Malayan Union, Sir Edward Gent.
“That was an interesting historical drama which I enjoyed, and this time, my character in uniform is a true blue Malaysian patriot named ACP Roslan.
“He is the elder brother of Shariff, and as a respected veteran police officer, he is dedicated to crime-busting in Kuala Lumpur,” says Zahim, who recently starred in a play in Bali, Indonesia titled Cymbelina.
“Roslan is very serious and a man of few words, but he is fully behind Shariff, despite the younger man’s impulsive ways. He fully understands Shariff, and off-duty they are a close-knit family.”
Zahim is always happy to work with new filmmakers who write good scripts and have that 1Malaysia cast.
“Dhyan is a perfectionist who knows what he wants, and I enjoy working with directors like him because they are passionate about creating original Malaysian stories.”
As for his juniors in the cast, Zahim praises them for their seriousness, and willingness to share on how to better the story.
“We always discuss how to improve the story, and Dhyan encourages us to share our opinions with him. Teamwork is what makes a film great.”
As for co-starring with Vanidah, Zahim says they last collaborated in the stage version of Baik Punya Cilok two years ago, but back then she played a police officer.
“This time, I’m a cop and she’s my wife. Nevertheless, she plays a strong and principled person who understands the nature of her husband’s job.”
FAME FROM ADVERTISEMENT
Viewers remember Amai from two TV advertisements over the last couple of years — he starred as an irate younger brother who raises his keris against his elder brother on the latter’s wedding day in a comedic Boh Tea commercial, and played an annoyed elder brother who is clobbered to death with a guitar by his ecstasy-addicted younger brother in a National Film Development Corporation (Finas) anti-dadah commercial.
“I liked the anti-dadah commercial because it was a dramatic way to highlight the dangers of drug abuse.”
Apart from the commercials, Amai has been a regular in crime drama series Gerak Khas, often playing baddies. “I usually play gangsters, criminals and police informers — and get to appear in many of the fight scenes,” he says.
In Temuan Takdir, Amai is one of the three robbers who are pursued by Shariff. “I am the nastiest and toughest of the trio. I end up monopolising the stolen goods, and I have to face the full force of the law, getting as physical as I can against Shariff and company.”
Amai does not feel typecast as a baddie because he “has the looks”. “Salleh Kamil and the late Izi Yahya were great actors who spent a lot of their time playing screen baddies to perfection. They are my role models.”
However, Amai is at home playing good guys, and will star as one on Aug 25. “My next film has me playing a soldier who fights Communist terrorists in the jungles of the Titiwangsa Range near Ipoh. Titled Kanang, it is directed by Bade Azmi. It’s a biopic about the legendary soldier Datuk Kanang Langkau from Sarawak.”
IN A KAJOL MOVIE
Malieq, like Amai, has been a supporting actor in Gerak Khas over the last two years. “I don’t usually play baddies, but somehow viewers remember them better than the protagonists. My character is Faizal, who is Amai’s partner-in-crime but is soon outfoxed by him.”
His dream role is to be a foreigner who adapts to Malaysian life, as his favourite actor Shaheizy Sam was in Kongsi. “However, I’d like to be a good foreigner who earns an honest living.”
Meanwhile, Ery dabbles in writing his own movie scripts, and he has come up with Jengking Malam specially for Dhyan.
“This movie-in-the-pipeline will have lots of silat, ninjitsu and kung fu, and it has been my childhood dream,” says Ery.
“I’ll also be starring in a 30-episode drama about Sarawakian culture. It’s something I look forward too.”
Ery is set to appear in a Malaysian-Indian film next year, featuring a special appearance by Bollywood star Kajol.
“We, however, don’t have a scene together. But it will be an honour to meet Kajol in person.”
PLANNING HOLLYWOOD ACTION FLICK
Prior to making movies, Dhyan worked with a company that sold medical equipment to hospitals. “I’ve always wanted to make movies, because I’ve been a movie fan since my childhood.”
His next project is a comedy which “highlights the funny side of Malaysian life”. “It’s inspired by the work of my favourite cartoonist Datuk Lat, a keen observer of all things Malaysian.
Dhyan is in the midst of negotiating with a few American film companies to co-produce an action movie next year with one scene to be filmed in KL.
“American actress Serinda Swan will play a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent who pursues a deadly assassin who has murdered her close friend and colleague. It’s going to be a pretty interesting movie.”