Let’s take a stroll down Malaysian cinema - You’d be surprised to find many notable films from ones from the P. Ramlee era to today’s unexpected box office wins. But let’s be honest, the local industry has seen many disappointments as well with the kind of storylines that are just too typical and boring. So let’s talk about Sepet from 2005, this film has aged but never turned outdated because it shined a better and brighter perspective on love that is anything but ordinary.
Sepet (2005) was directed by the mother of Malaysian cinema who was tragically short-lived, Yasmin Ahmad. She is known for heartwarming movies that touch on racial issues with a friendly view. Truth be told, her films have quite simple storylines but contain a big depth into our society. The romantic comedy or drama stars the charming evergreen Sharifah Amani, lovely persona Adibah Noor, the beautiful Ida Nerina, and the funniest man in the world Harith Iskander; and it tells the tale of an interracial relationship between a Malay girl named Orked (Sharifah Amani) and a Chinese boy, Jason (Choo Seong Ng). As expected, their romance was mostly kept between themselves but when word of mouth spread most people disapproved of them being together. But Orked and Jason didn’t bother, love is blind after all. They write to each other and it’s the cutest thing ever.
Sepet had many comedic moments as well (They cast a comedian, after all), but they weren’t too obviously funny; Yasmin Ahmad added some dialogues that may seem familiar in a normal Malaysian household, which can be quite funny in a sentimental way. However, the film does get more serious towards the end when both parties of the controversial relationship had to face the music of the problems that separate them and deal with the long drought of not being able to be together all the time. And the ending broke my heart. I don’t wanna talk about it.
I bring up this film because 1. It’s a Yasmin Ahmad film, and 2. It feels very close to home. This film was set in the humble Ipoh mali, which pretty much simultaneously sets a grounded mood for this film. I thought that was very lovely for a romantic drama, it kind of gives us lay people a chance to relate to their situation. Yasmin Ahmad carefully pieced this film to reflect reality so people would open their eyes to the great racial conflict that we face. Maybe that is the purpose of films, music, and art, all along- to make us question ourselves and wonder if we will ever change our horrid ways?
On the other hand, let’s not be too harsh on kids who just wanna love who they wanna love. Romance aside, Sepet lets us embrace our differences by treating each other with mutual respect and equal sentiments. There shouldn’t be any conflict at all between our different races and beliefs, let alone discriminate each other before getting to know a person up close. And sometimes, love isn’t only shared between two people romantically. Love should be shared in abundance, in our humble home of our closest friends and multiracial community.