When actress Atikah Suhaime was offered the role of a guest relations officer (GRO) in romantic comedy Pencuri Hati Mr Cinderella, she politely declined it.

“I rejected it right away. Then director Ahmad Idham explained that I won’t be playing a villain or someone who is causing problems to a relationship.

“He said his movie is taking a different approach to the GRO character,” Atikah, 26, said during an interview in Mutiara Damansara, Selangor.

In Pencuri Hati Mr Cinderella, director Ahmad also stars as Salman, a businessman in his 40s who had gone through two divorces in his life.

At a karaoke centre in the city, he meets Ameera, a GRO played by Atikah. He starts paying her to go on dates with him.

Ahmad said he has always wanted to do a story focusing on older men going through a romantic phase in life.

“But I wasn’t sure if audiences would be responsive. Then, I was inspired by the success of two popular TV shows – Cinta Masam Manis and Isteri Tuan Ihsan – both featured older actors trying to make a relationship work with younger partners,” Ahmad, 43, explained. He was also keen to explore a story about a man going through midlife crisis: “I used Pretty Woman as an inspiration. If I want to do a love story about people in my age group, I guess I have to be in tune with what is actually happening out there.”

Ahmad is choosing to portray GROs differently from how they are usually depicted on screen. He is doing away with the impression that GROs are young girls who get into the business because of a crime syndicate.

“They are not prostitutes, and my character even says that in the film. In my movie, Atikah’s character chooses to be a GRO because she’s after a certain lifestyle. She wants to have fun and get money.”

Despite the somewhat scandalous nature of his character’s relationship, Ahmad is careful not to include any provocative scenes.

For Atikah, her character only goes so far as touching Ahmad’s knee. However, there is one scene that she is worried about.

“I don’t want my mum to see that! But I can’t reveal much because it’s a major spoiler,” she said, urging fans to watch the movie.