Two weeks ago, Pekin Ibrahim woke up to the sound of his phone ringing at 3am. He looked at caller ID and it was Datuk Yusof Haslam.

“He called to say congratulations because my movie Mat Moto has made RM1mil on the first day of release,” Pekin said during an interview in Kuala Lumpur, recently.

However, this movie almost didn’t get made when Pekin, 35, first pitched the idea three years ago.

“I couldn’t secure funding for the movie. But I know that I have to make it because it was something my friend and I have always wanted to do.”

Pekin’s friend was fellow actor and scriptwriter Azwan Annuar. As a “mat motor” (motorcyle enthusiast), Pekin said he spent a lot of time hanging out and talking to like-minded friends (“I don’t really spend much time with other artists”).

It was time spent with these mat motor that he heard this story about Al – a motorcycle enthusiast who travelled to different states in the country in search of rare helmets. Al did it to fulfill the wish of his good friend who had died from an accident. Pekin was moved by the story.

“I learned a lot about friendship and acceptance through that story. I told my friend Azwan about it. It became a story that we wanted to tell,” Pekin explained.

He then got started on writing a script and finally settled on a version that he was satisfied with in April last year. He immediately called up Azwan to tell him the good news.

pekin ibrahim

Mat Moto has made more than RM4mil to date. The movie stars Pekin Ibrahim (who also co-directs) and Falisha Crossley. Photo: The Star/Irsyadi Ismail

“I told him that we have to meet right away to talk about this script and make the movie happen. But he was not feeling well and asked to postpone the meeting,” the Kelantan-born actor remembered.

The next day, Pekin got news that Azwan has passed away at his home in Kepong, Selangor. He was 38 years old.

Pekin was more determined than ever to get the movie made that he reached out to director Syafiq Yusof.

They had worked together when Pekin starred in Syafiq’s horror flick Villa Nabila, released last year.

Eventually, they agreed to co-direct the movie and have Pekin star as Al.

“Syafiq was instrumental in helping me get this movie made. He trusted me 100% even though I’ve never directed a film before. I was also happy to have his expertise and experience. I’m still learning a lot from him!”

Together, they also managed to rope in actors like Shaheizy Sam, Datuk Rosyam Nor, Faizal Hussein, Syamsul Yusof and Kamarool Haji Yusoff to guest star in the movie. Syafiq’s father, Yusof Haslam, is the producer for the movie.

Mat Moto was eventually released on Jan 14 to overwhelming response; its current box-office earning is RM4.5mil. Even Pekin was surprised by the movie’s box-office success.

“You know, I can’t believe it. My aim was to make RM500,000. Then when Datuk Yusof called to say we hit RM1mil on the first day, I thought to myself that maybe I should start aiming higher.”

However, Pekin does regret not being able to share the joy with Azwan. There is a dedication to Azwan at the end credit of the movie which broke his heart.

“I saw the movie at a preview with fans and when Azwan’s picture came on screen, I cried. I often think about what it would be like if he’s still here. I really miss him. This movie is for him.”