There was a sense of deja vu in the minds of those who saw Osman Ali’s latest film Pilot Cafe at a preview in Kuala Lumpur, recently. The romantic drama stars Fahrin Ahmad as Ameer, a philandering pilot who’d make Charlie Sheen look like the ideal son-in-law.

His bad boy days, however, are finished when he meets Maya (Izara Aishah).

The girl in question has just arrived in the city from her village when she’s tricked into prostitution by a taxi driver. Luckily, she escapes and finds her way to Ameer. Although she’s a stranger, Ameer takes Maya under his wing and gets her a job as a waitress.

What Ameer doesn’t know is, Maya left her hometown after her family disowned her due to her relationship with boyfriend Rashid (Remy Ishak). Ameer learns of the relationship when Maya reveals she is pregnant with Rashid’s baby. Ameer becomes the unlikely stand-in “husband” in making sure she has a safe delivery.

Now, where have we seen this story of a playboy who falls in love with a kampung girl before?

Back in 2011, Osman was making waves with Ombak Rindu, a romantic drama starring Maya Karin as Izzah, a kampung girl sold to a brothel by her uncle. A playboy, played by Aaron Aziz, becomes her unlikely saviour when he takes her out of the brothel.

Over time, he falls in love with Izzah. Ombak Rindu’s theme song was performed by Hafiz Suip and Adira. As it happens, Hafiz and Adira are also performing Pilot Cafe’s theme song, Untuk Cinta.

Osman didn’t shy away from the obvious similarities between the two films.

“I can’t deny that I’ve used Ombak Rindu as a source of inspiration,” he admitted at a press conference.

With Ombak Rindu’s phenomenal box-office success – the film grossed over RM10mil – one can’t fault Osman for sticking to a formula that has worked with the local viewers.

But he also insisted that the similarities are only at the surface and it’s up to the audience to discover that there’s more to Pilot Cafe, which opens today.

He also took the time to address criticism of the film depicting its characters engaging in unsavoury social behaviour such as pre-marital sex and having an unplanned pregnancy.

“I just want to show the reality of what is happening in society,” explained the director. “I often read stories of women who have been exploited by men and their plea for help is often ignored. Instead of focusing on the negative, we should think about what we can do to help women in need.”

Pilot Cafe

Director Osman Ali hopes the audience will see Pilot Cafe’s underlying message about love and redemption.

With a production cost of close to RM3mil, Pilot Cafe seems like an expensive story about Ameer’s journey to be a better man.

But Osman believes the film’s underlying message of love and redemption is priceless. So much so, he hopes the audience will focus on the message instead of his characters’ indecent behaviour.

Pilot Cafe is about showing how everyone deserves a second chance. People can learn from their mistakes and strive to be a better person. We can’t judge people for the mistakes they have done and not give them the chance to change.”