Think Big Big started with director Chiu Keng Guan thinking small.
Coming off the major successes of 2014’s The Journey and 2016’s OlaBola – both of which rank among the most successful films in Malaysian history – Chiu wanted to make a smaller film to recharge his creative batteries before moving on to yet another major production.
Think Big Big, he says, is inspired by the Aesop fable The Man, The Boy, And The Donkey. In that fable, a man and his son were taking their donkey to the market, but kept getting influenced by snide comments of people passing by.
In trying to please all these strangers, they ended up losing their donkey altogether. The moral of that story – please all, and you will please none – is the basis of Think Big Big.
“I wanted to expand that story of the donkey, the father and son into a film that asks why we care so much what others think of us. If you try to please everyone, you’ll lose yourself,” Chiu said during an interview at the launch of the film recently. “We all had dreams when we were younger, but I think the hardest thing to achieve in life is to just be yourself. So, this is a story about how to stay true to yourself.”
Produced by Astro Shaw, Think Big Big revolves around a plus-sized girl named Moon, played by Moon Yoong.
Moon is a confident girl who is content with her job as a mascot at a theme park. She loves nothing more than hanging out with her group of friends, comprising Vivian (Vivienne Oon), Ice (Ruby Yap), Qi Qi (Keigrey Kam), and Ah Seng (Fabian Loo).
One day, she gets into an accident which lands her in a ton of debt, and to pay it, she agrees to join a weight-losing competition. Following the competition, Moon becomes a popular social media celebrity, and starts to lose her way, alienating her friends and family in the process.
The movie also stars Miss Astro Chinese International Pageant 2016 Serene Lim and newcomer Joanne Lau.
As usual, Chiu roped in a number of talents for his movie. While radio host Oon and musician Yap are already well-established in the entertainment industry, this was Lim’s first acting role, while Yoong, Lau and Kam are newbies.
“I chose Moon because she has a very joyful and optimistic character that is just like the one in the movie. It’s the same with Joanne – we found her through the open casting,” he said.
Despite this being a “smaller production” compared to OlaBola or The Journey, Chiu said he still faced many challenges along the way.
“I had never made a movie about the relationships and friendship centred around a group of girls before. I think (after making this movie) I can understand women better!” he said with a laugh, adding that while writing the script, he had to keep asking women around him what they talk about with their friends.
Another major challenge he faced was a scene in which Lim is depicted as an astronaut in space. “It’s not a long scene, but I wanted to try something new (for that). So, we had CGI (computer generated imagery), an astronaut suit, wirework and a green screen … it was a special experience for me,” he recalled.
Like his other movies, Think Big Big is a movie with very Malaysian DNA, from its locations and settings to the way its characters speak.
However, Chiu said that rather than the “wide angle” view of Malaysia he used in his other films, this one zooms in on a small group of Malaysians, and tells a more intimate story instead.
“There is an astronaut in space, there is the story about being yourself, being beautiful, and about losing weight … it is a simple movie, but I use a rojak way to tell the story. Think Big Big, for me, is a plate of rojak!” he declared.