The Dollah Superstar actor is hard at work on all fronts in the entertainment industry, be it film, TV or music .
My eyes are wide open and fixed on Awie’s left foot as he tells me it had sustained a minor injury just before filming for the comedy-action flick, Dollah Superstar, begun last year.
Moments before, the rocker-turned-actor had matter-of-factly informed me that he had done all of the show’s stunts on his own, one of which includes an impressive full split in the opening scene.
“That wasn’t a camera trick,” the 45-year-old actor says in an interview with Star2, perhaps sensing my disbelief. Despite the swelling in his leg, Awie went on with the stunt work anyway as it has become second nature to him.
“I’ve choreographed fight scenes in more than 10 movies now. It’s easier this way. Otherwise, the team has to get a stuntman with long hair. I like to do it myself,” he says, before adding he was a gymnast back in his schooling days.
All this heavy lifting has to do with his role, Dollah, a revered gangster, in the RM1.5mil, Kabir Bhatia-helmed film, which is currently showing in cinemas nationwide.
But this “bad boy” has an artistic side to him: Dollah dreams of becoming an actor.
During a jewelry heist one day, he bumps into flamboyant film star Shah Dazzle (Sharnaaz Ahmad) and the two strike a deal: Dollah prepares Shah to fight like a gangster for his role in an upcoming action film and Dollah gets a part in the movie.
“There had been offers to do other gangster movies before but I didn’t like them. I didn’t like the story. They didn’t relate to the Malaysian context,” says Awie who, apart from a supporting role as a gangster in Maria Mariana 2, has never taken on such a role before.
Indeed, Dollah Superstar begins with its protagonist criticising the portrayal of gangsters while watching a movie in the cinema.
“If you want to make a gangster movie, do some research. Don’t exaggerate the gangsters’ lives. It’s so unreal and you don’t see them in Malaysia. They’re always portrayed with yellow, white or red hair and even the way they talk is so different from reality,” he shares.
“But I’m not a gangster OK,” he added before launching into a guffaw.
“What Kabir did is something like a spoof on them (the local film industry’s stereotypical portrayal of gangsters) and that’s good as it tells the audience that the Malaysian style (of gangsters) is different,” he continues.
Awie also says that the film is that much more special with the freedom to improvise on the script.
“There’s a scene where my character becomes the director of a movie and instead of saying, ‘cut!’ he says ‘tutup!’ The gangster is so clueless about making movies he doesn’t even know the right terms to use. That was something I did impromptu,” he recalls.
After all, Awie has sharpened his comedic edge over the years starring in a slew of successful comedies such as Baik Punya Cilok, Zombie Kampung Pisang, Cuci and Hantu Kak Limah Balik Rumah.
But they are markedly different from the dramatic roles he played when he first branched out to be an actor in the 1990s (think Sembilu and Tragedi Oktober).
“It’s because of Afdlin Shauki. He is the one who first saw my comedic talent. His office was near my gym, so everytime I was done with gym, we sat down and talked and whenever I said something, he always laughed.
“He said I was a comedian and offered me a role in Baik Punya Cilok, and it all started from there,” he explains.
However, Awie says he will be making the leap back to dramatic roles next year: “I want to do a movie on the real story of my love life. It’ll be produced by my company.
“It’s like Sembilu, which was inspired by my life back then; this one will be on my true story now and it’ll be a more matured love story. There will also be another action movie in store, a revenge story.”
In recent years, the actor has also added stage musicals to his repertoire, ranging from Cuci The Musical to Lat Kampung Boy Sebuah Muzikal and Supermokh The Musical.
“I’m seriously falling in love with theatre. I used to be afraid of it, having to memorise everything but now, I love doing it. Like with Mokhtar (his role in Supermokh), after rehearsals, I bring that character with me back home, you keep rehearsing.
“But when it comes to shooting, it’s different, when the director says ‘cut!’ and you go home, the character is gone,” shares Awie, who is a two-time Boh Cameronian Best Actor winner.
“And when you get a standing ovation, you feel so blessed and appreciated.”
On the music front, legendary rock band Wings just released its 16th studio album, Menakluk Kosmos, last May.
“The reception has been very good, we’re going to be honoured with a gold disc soon. This month, we’re going to start back on the promotion of the album, we might plan for a tour,” says its lead vocalist.
The Sejati hitmaker also offered his observation on the evolution of showbusiness in Malaysia through the years. “Before, the music scene was much more happening, but now the film scene is more happening.
“If I had the chance, I would go back to the 1980s and 1990s. In the mid 1990s, the music scene started to go down and the film industry went up,” comments Awie who will celebrate his 30th year in the entertainment industry come 2016.
Keeping calm in the storm
Awie remained largely tight-lipped on the details, but probing further on the contents of the aforementioned film inspired by his personal love story, he implies it will have something to do with the recent controversies surrounding the actor.
“I just want to tell the people out there who don’t know what the real situation is, what has happened, and clean up once and for all on the silver screen.”
The actor was recently charged under the Penal Code with voluntarily causing grievous hurt to wife Rozana Misbun.
Though unable to comment much as court proceedings are still underway, Awie states: “I want the society to support me, I’m depending on them for my career. I hope they don’t judge me.”
On reacting to controversies over the years, he shares one time he had merajuk (sulk) after being lambasted by the media when his engagement with actress Erra Fazira was called off: “I was out of this industry for about three years. I had quit being an artiste and sat quietly and sold perfumes.”
But this time round, the actor is keeping busy with a number of projects, although he was hesitant at first.
“I rejected (this year’s re-staging of) Supermokh at first because I didn’t want to spoil the reputation of the production with the case that’s happening.
“But (director) Hans Isaac got a call from the Sultan of Selangor and he wanted me to be on it,” shares the rocker who did, however, reject the role as the headmaster of the new season of Akademi Fantasia.
Awie also admits the current court case has taken a toll on him physically, revealing, “During Supermokh, I couldn’t focus on my work with people talking about me on blogs and Facebook. I dropped so much weight. I had a 36-inch waist and now I’m down to 30 inches in just one month because of this.”
Asked if the court case has affected his relationship with his children, Awie says it has brought him closer to them instead.
“The kids are very understanding and matured in handling this. I explained to them what is happening, but not so much, I don’t want it to affect the relationship with their mother, just what I should tell them.”
Awie, who also has a part as Hang Tuah in an upcoming six-episode historical drama, Takhta, and a role in another stage production, Rejang The Musical, believes it is important to look ahead.
He says: “I have friends surrounding me like Hans, who believes in me. And when it comes to work, I just do what I have to do. I don’t stop, I must move on. Whatever it is, let the court decide, or let God decide.”