We all remember the various emotions we felt the day after the recent general election – shock, disbelief, joy, pride and relief.
Rise: Ini Kalilah is described as a tribute to how ordinary Malaysians achieved the extraordinary on May 9, told through six individuals on the days leading up to the election.
But here’s the thing, six characters might have been two too many. Not enough depth is given to some of the characters, which means some of their stories end a little too simplistically. It’s like watching one long TV commercial to stoke the patriotic fire.
However, it would be remiss not to mention that the intent behind the production is a sincere one – the sense of achievement behind what transpired as a result of the people’s want for change does shine through.
The film earns points, too, for highlighting a couple of serious issues plaguing our nation; the biggest being, corruption.
Also, considering the movie is helmed by three directors, featuring more than one language (Malay, Tamil, Mandarin and English), the narrative flows quite smoothly.
The six characters come in the form of policeman Azman (Remy Ishak), English journalist Marcus (Mark O’Dea), Selva (Shashi Tharan) who runs a foreign worker agency, teacher Shanti (Sangeeta Krishasamy), Fizah (Mira Filzah) – a student studying in London, and Leong (Jack Tan) who’s gone to Singapore for a better opportunity.
Rise follows how these characters – days before the election – play a part in not only making decisions that will affect their own fate, but also the country’s.
Of these six characters, only Azman’s story is given a wide breadth for growth, and we are interested in how his story develops. Azman tries his best to be an honest cop, but his circumstances and the constant nagging from his greedy partner – who likes philosophising their situation to that of wild animals in the jungle – do take a toll on him.
This portion of the story has a couple of well-written scenes that try to reason why some keepers of the law have become lax in their duty. Remy must be credited for his nuanced performance in conveying Azman’s daily struggle.
Other actors including Shashi, Sangeeta and Tan deliver convincing portrayals as well.
Their characters are somewhat typical – a father-to-be worried about the ways of the world; a daughter learning her parent is not perfect; a young man who often acts rashly – but that’s OK because their traits are not so uncommon that they remind us of a friend, a family member, or even ourselves.
The segment on the foreign workers – although well acted and highlights human rights issues (such as how badly they are treated in this country by employers) – offers neither a proper start nor ending to the plot.
Selva’s story raises too many questions with no answers. Maybe this is to acknowledge there are still so many problems pertaining the labour laws of foreign employees in this country, that no solution is in sight yet. Sigh.
Another frustrating storyline is that of Fizah. While we can understand why a subplot about a student in London bringing other students’ ballots home is necessary, why include a foreign journalist’s point of view and then have him do basically nothing?
He does zero reporting and absolutely zero questioning. Is he supposed to represent visitors from developed countries who don’t look favourably at our ways? If anything, his journalistic skills needs to be looked into.
But, despite these hiccups, Rise: Ini Kalilah is an admirable effort – especially considering the election was only four months ago, and here we have a quality film documenting the historic event.
More than anything, here’s hoping this film and One Two Jaga are just the beginning of movies that explore everyday life topics that are unique to Malaysians, in an insightful manner.
Catch this movie at Golden Screen Cinemas nationwide. Follow GSC on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Rise: Ini Kalilah
Directors: Saw Teong Hin, Nik Amir Mustapha, M.S. Prem Nath
Cast: Remy Ishak, Sangeeta Krishnasamy, Jack Tan, Mira Filzah, Shashi Tharan, Mark O’Dea