A local gangster flick - complete with giant moustaches - that doesn't take itself too seriously is available for free-to-watch on YouTube.
Gangster films have long shaped the face of modern cinema, with its effects stamped across the world times over; a portrayal of the darker side of humanity.
Although many of these movies take themselves seriously – a deserving position- there are some that warns their audiences not to do so, unless you wish to suffer brain damage.
Gangster Macha: The Rise of Muthusammy, is one such film. A local amateur production by first-time filmmaker Yusuf Amin, 22, the show takes a satirical look at Malaysian mobsters, complete with fight scenes, punching sounds and giant moustaches.
“I actually wanted to do a documentary about Indian gangsters. It’s always been an interesting subject… but nobody wants to watch a sad film. My main priority is to entertain,” Yusuf, who also wrote its script and music, said.
He added that he was also jumping on the gangster movie bandwagon, with recent local films such as KL Gangster, Kepong Gangster and Hantu Gangster.
Filmed on a shoestring budget, the film was also shot over a total of 17 days, over a 4-month period.
Gangster Macha’s story, is as straightforward as can be. Set in the fictional gang-infested Kampung Bedebush, a local Parliamentarian named YB promises to make things better by creating the ultimate gangster, Snake Raja.
But Snake Raja, armed with his fearsome army, Geng Ular – and an equally terrifying moustache- grows too powerful for YB to handle, leading the politician to recruit a young Muthusammy to clean up the mess.
Muthusammy has no choice but to agree; as he needs YB’s money to take care of his ailing mother.
“I wrote it as a theatre piece for the screen. You see, theatre is very dialogue-based. There’s no fancy tricks [or] special effects, so it all boils down to character-based development,” Yusuf, himself a stage actor, said.
The film is also a reference to Indian films made during the 1980s, according to Oliver Johanan, 26, who plays Snake Raja, Gangster Macha’s villain.
“What made me fall in love with the Snake Raja, was that it paid homage to the 80s Tamil movies, when [Indian superstar] Rajinikanth used to play a villain [then]. It has a sense of nostalgia of the the 80s,” he said.
In dual language
Commenting on his character, Johanan said that Snake was no ordinary villain. “Snake started off as a low-time gangster, but with the help of YB, he became who he is.
“He’s low-class, dirty and grimy, but he’s also very intelligent, very wise with his words…His weapon is to use other people’s words against them,” he said, citing both Rajinikanth and Trainspotting’s Begbie (Robert Carlyle) as primary influences.
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Another thing about Gangster Macha, the director said, was that it was filmed twice: in both English and Bahasa Malaysia.
This resulted in two scripts, both telling the same story, but because of the language, the film transformed into two different animals.
“It just made natural sense, from an artistic point of view…[Also] on a business sense, I could shoot two films on one budget,” Yusuf laughed, before adding, “I did it because I can.”
Yet the command of Malay in the film doesn’t rely on street language, as some local productions tend to do, but on formal Malay.
It is a trait that Yusuf acknowledges, but insists that it gives his film a theatrical flavour, one that has an edge over the English version.
The film is also a prequel of sorts, one that Yusuf expects to expand into a full-fledged film, if Gangster Macha turns into a success.
Even so, the film’s players warn anyone watching it to leave their brain by the door first.
“It’s a movie where the stupid becomes ultra stupid and the lame becomes ultra lame,” said Phoon Chi Ho, 28, who plays James, a comrade of Muthusammy’s.
A standup comedian himself, Phoon said that that the movie took its cues from films that didn’t take itself seriously, such as Danny Trejo’s Machete and anything involving Chuck Norris.
“When you watch it, you’ll probably be thinking: ‘What the —k?’ If you’re a moviegoer and you’re a fan of all the genres, you’ll find this movie fun.
“But if you’re expecting a wholesome movie, then maybe not,” he said, adding that it wasn’t a film for people unused to post-modern themes.
“Muthusammy is just a bright boy who gets straight A’s, but because he’s not given the opportunity to excel in life…[he] turns to gangsterism. He’s just a normal, smart Indian boy, but [he's forced into this] because of his mother’s sickness,” he said.
The spectre of Malaysian politics, Umesh added, had a large footprint on the film.
“I see it (the film) as a parody of what is going on in real life and Malaysian politics.
“The message is that gangsters don’t just come out of the blue. They’re backed by political powers, and that’s how gangsters bloom,” he said.
Gangster Macha is free-to-watch on its YouTube page, with its English version released on Merdeka Day, Aug 31. Its Bahasa Malaysia version will be out on Sept 16.
To watch Gangster Macha for free, check out its YouTube page
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