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Friday July 22, 2005

A local movie about rock culture

Local rock culture gets a nod in the forthcoming movie Rock. AZHARIAH KAMIN speaks to the man behind the film. 

In the mid-1980s and early 1990s, rock bands such as Search, Wings, May, XPDC and Lefthanded practically ruled the music industry. They were the few what made it big and have remained perennial favourites among Mat Rock fans. The number of rock wannabes that came in their wake was sizeable but less significant in impact.  

Filmmaker Mamat Khalid (left) is one of those with a failed rock ’n’ roll career but the rock star dream lives on for him in a different way.  

Mamat, who is the younger brother of celebrity cartoonist Lat, has been given a chance to depict his half-abandoned dream on the big screen in the movie Rock, slated for screening in the cinemas in December.  

“Well, you can call it a semi-biography of sorts,” said Mamat in an interview recently, referring to his just completed movie. 

The movie is about a rocker who has to hang up his guitar because his father disapproves of him being a musician. 

Newcomer Hasnol Rahmat (of KL Menjerit fame) plays Zack, a rocker who becomes a postman after his dad (played by Lefthanded’s ex-vocalist Nash) tells him to stop dreaming of becoming a rock star. However, Zack comes to realise that he needs to follow his dream when he receives letters from fans of his former group Rimba Bara to reconsider reviving a band career. 

For Mamat, who was once a member of a rock band, the movie was like revisiting the glorious local rock era of the 1980s/90s where the Malaysian entertainment industry meant high-energy rock bands and heavy metal outfits.  

Understandably these groups had a major influence on the industry and garnered a large following especially among the young. 

Coincidence or not, Mamat was working on his own script called Kapak, but when approached, he took up movie company Grand Brilliance’s offer to helm Rock.  

“I told them that it would be easier for me to direct my own script rather than someone else’s. They agreed, so I worked on the script. It is based on my life and my experience as someone who was directly involved in the scene of budding musicians who had a dream of becoming rock stars.”  

Siti Elizad and Hasnol Rahmat have lead roles in Rock, a movie directed by Mamat Khalid.
Mamat’s own band emerged as state champions, representing Perak in the national leg of the Battle of the Bands contest in 1995. 

“I’m sure that many out there can relate to the story.”  

With a RM900,000 budget, Mamat decided to feature new faces in his comedy offering. 

“I know we can bank on big stars to sell the movie. But I guess I’m ‘small’ myself in the film business, so it’s better to have actors on the same level as me in this movie,” he said with a smile.  

Apart from Hasnol, Rock also boasts newcomers like Siti Elizad, Que Haidar, Khair Rahman, Nabila (Amy Search’s daughter), Farah Man Kidal and Hani Hermi alongside veteran actor Hamid Gurkha.  

Big names in rock such as Amy Search, Man Kidal of Lefthanded, Black of Wings, Shidi of Dead Mushroom and Loloq make special a appearance in the movie. 

Rock is the second movie that has Mamat working with Grand Brilliance after Lang Buana (2004) and the filming took about a month to complete. 

“We started filming on May 5 and completed it on June 6. All the shooting was done around Taiping in Perak. I chose Taiping for many reasons. Firstly, I’m from Taiping. I used to work in a government office there so I know Taiping like the back of my hand,” explained Mamat. 

“Secondly, which is very important, is that there are many old buildings in Taiping being restored and gazetted by the government. It was a perfect setting for my movie set in the 1980s. The scene from The Battle of the Bands concert was shot at the Dewan Hokkien.”  

Now that the movie is the final stages of production and editing, Mamat is understandably nervous. 

“Let’s put it this way, my movie is like my own child. You try to give everything you possibly can to it but the result is in the hands of the audience.” 

He added, “I have two target audiences here.  

“The first is the younger generation, you know, to give them a glimpse of what really happened in local rock in that golden era while the second one is to attract the above 40s. It will be a trip down memory lane for them.”



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