At the press conference after the screening of the film Operasi X, the cast members were in good spirits. At the helm of this jovial mood was Datuk Awie, who kept the jokes going, be it when he’s sharing the challenges of making the film or interjecting with a punchline when others were speaking.

The singer-actor who turns 50 on Nov 24 seemed comfortable in his role as a senior among his younger colleagues, which include Datuk Aaron Aziz, TV host Hefny Sahad, TV actress Hanna Aqeela, as well as models Nashra Shah and Shima Aris.

His disposition may be due to the fact that he got the biggest laughs from the audience at the premiere. According to Awie, he ad-libbed some of the lines in the film.

The star of this year’s blockbuster comedy-horror Hantu Kak Limah said with a grin: “The comedy in this film came about more spontaneously.

“I was excited when I watched the film just now. I am happy with how Sandosh directed the film, and how he brought the older and younger actors together. I hope the audience will find Operasi X entertaining.”

Director Sandosh Kesavan added: “Awie was reluctant to take part in this film initially. Thankfully I convinced him because he brought his own brand of aura to the set and the film.

“A reason I chose this cast was because I knew they would give justification to their respective roles … they really brought more depth to the roles than what was written on the pages,” explained Sandosh, whose previous directing credits include Aandal, Gong and Aanushtana.

Shima, who shared quite a number of scenes with Awie and Nasir Bilal Khan, said: “This is my film debut and my first scene was with Datuk Awie and then with Nasir. It was nerve-wracking; I am nervous until today.”

In Operasi X, Awie plays gang leader Belut, who’s unable to get over the death of his beloved younger brother during a drug operation that was busted by the police.

One of the officers, ASP Redzuan (Aaron), suffered a loss too; his best friend in the force was killed during the mission.

For a while, both Belut and Redzuan handled their griefs in their own way. But soon, their paths cross again when Redzuan is asked to head a special team to take down Belut’s many illegal operations.

Sandosh described Operasi X not as an action film but a film with action sequences, which are handled mostly by action star Aaron (KL Gangster) and stuntman-turned-actor Hairul Azreen (Paskal: The Movie).

Gangster Belut (Awie) wants revenge for the death of his brother. Photo: Dream Pictures

Aaron reasoned why he took on the role: “I wanted to be part of this project because of the variety of people involved in it. Operasi X is an admirable project because Sandosh made it very inclusive by not only mixing up newcomers within the cast, but also hiring a lot of really young people to be part of the behind-the-scenes crew.

“Also, the entirety of Operasi X was filmed in Penang. We spent 30 days shooting the film and we faced a lot of challenges in that time, but the change of location from Klang Valley was exciting.”

Some of the scenic places featured in Operasi X include Pulau Aman and Bukit Bendera. There is also a car chase sequence by a port in Penang where containers are used to move drugs.

Sandosh said: “Operasi X is kind of inspired by the RM47mil heist that happened in Penang (in 2006) where the robbers had used containers (to steal microchips).

Redzuan (Aaron) learns Belut has kidnapped some people to threaten him.

Operasi X has a lot of characters, but I believe the character development and the plot here are solid.

“We have seen movies like this in Hollywood – one that combines action, love, friendship, sacrifices into its plot.

“I wanted to experiment a format like that with Operasi X.”

Operasi X is now showing at GSC cinemas nationwide.