How do you tackle fickle-minded Malaysian moviegoers with one movie? The answer probably lies in the pairing of two of the country’s biggest stars in a road movie.

In Rembat, a RM40,000 loan takes Chin Chye (Tan Kheng Seong aka Aniu) and Malik (Shaheizy Sam) on a road trip across the country to fix a Malaysia-Thailand football match. Failure to do so will result in Ah Loong (Sam Chong) the loan shark going after their loved ones.

Executive producer Lina Tan explained that Rembat was born out of the idea to bring audiences of all ethnicities together to enjoy a film that is truly Malaysian.

She also hopes the film will make us think about how we look at our fellow Malaysians based on our perception of race.

“How much do we really know about each other? The question of our identity and race is currently a very hotly-contested topic,” she said during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.

Director Shamyl Othman described Rembat as a movie about “celebrating our differences”.

“My intention was to make a funny, honest movie. So we used football as the backdrop for the film because naturally, you get to see all kinds of characters at a game,” Shamyl said.

While Chin Chye and Malik are two very different individuals, they have one thing in common and that is support for the national team. On the road trip, their naivety about each other’s ethnicity tag is explored through various hilarious scenes.

Rembat also stars Zizan Razak, Zara Zya, Sherry Alhadad and Arja Lee with special appearances by Rama of Jangan Ketawa fame, Zulin Aziz and Michael Chin.

Shamyl said the experiences his characters go through in the film were inspired by the actors themselves.

“Aniu himself shared this bit about his teeth. It cost a lot of money for him to fix it in real life. So he said we should include that in the film about how his teeth is the reason why he owes money to the loan shark in the first place. He thought it was something that his fans will definitely laugh at.”

The good-humoured Aniu added: “I also hope more ladies will be paying attention to me after seeing the movie.”

One person who was certainly paying attention to Aniu was Shaheizy who praised the actor’s work ethic.

Shaheizy and Ah Niu cannot decide which is worst -- being stuck with each other or having a RM40,000 debt to settle in Rembat. Photo: Grand Brilliance

Shaheizy and Ah Niu cannot decide which is worst — being stuck with each other or having a RM40,000 debt to settle in Rembat. Photo: Grand Brilliance

“Aniu is such an open actor. He likes to discuss method about acting or what we can do to make each other better. I really look up to him as a brother,” said Shaheizy.

The 33-year-old actor is currently riding on the success of the action film Polis Evo. However, audiences will not see Shaheizy’s much-talked about fit physique in the film as Rembat was shot before Polis Evo.

In fact, Shaheizy had to put on additional weight for his role in Rembat.

“I don’t mind (putting on weight) at all really because the film had a great script. Plus, it was not hard to gain weight because food on the set was good!” he said with a laugh.

Aniu marked his first time collaborating with Shaheizy with one unforgettable takeaway. “I thought he was a little bit withdrawn at first. Then, I got a closer look and I remember telling myself that his eyes were mesmerising. From that moment, I was captivated,” Aniu joked.

Director Shamyl also shared that Rembat was inspired by his own filmmaker father Othman Hafsham. In 1983, Othman wrote and directed Mekanik starring Susan Lankester and Azmil Mustapha. The comedy has been hailed as one of the finest Malaysian movies of all time.

Recently, 74-year-old Othman was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 27th Malaysia Film Festival.

“I cried when he stood on stage to receive his award. I was really proud of him. The style of comedy we feature in the film is really inspired by my dad’s sense of humour. It’s sort of a throwback to Mekanik,” Shamyl said.