Thursday, June 02, 2005

Sepet - A Dissection

"Apa lu orang Singapore tau? Har? Melalak-melalak macam tu. Macam orang utan!"

One of the most memorable phrases in the movie Sepet. I watched it 2 months ago, courtesy of mum posting the VCD (not the pirated one) all the way from Johor Bahru. I absolutely adored the show and I only have one thing to say about this movie - If this movie was made to show the world Malaysia as a multiracial country who has minor racial discontent amongst the people, why did Yasmin Ahmad leave out the Indians? The only reference to Indians (or an Indian) was the quote by Rabindranath Tagore at the end of the movie and also the poem read out in Chinese by Jason to his mother at the opening.

Other than that, Sepet is one movie that I will never get fed up of watching.

"Wahh...so fair ahhh. Some more the nose also so sharp. But sorry to say ahh..the eyes ahh..a bit the Sepet."

Don't deny that people. I'm sure you have made this reference before. I have and I'm not proud of it but at least I admit it.

"Who cares if that someone likes the other someone because of their race? It's when they hate them, that's the problem."

Oh yes, Orked. You're so damn right.

"Don't stereotype people like that. There's a lot of people here. I mean, like...not every Chinaman is a cheat right and not every Malay is lazy."

That's true too. Sadly, Malaysians like to stereotype. The Chinese to the non-Chinese are cheats and maid abusers. The Malays to non-Malays are lazy and child rapists. The Indians to non-Indians are toddy drinking wife bashers. It's so untrue. Just because you read in the papers about a Chinese woman who abused her maid by burning her nipples does not mean that every Chinese woman walking on the street is capable of such inhuman treatment. Think people. Think.

"I read somewhere ahh..Hundreds of years ago, the Emperor of China decided to give his daughter to the Sultan of Malacca. Sultan's name was Sultan Mansur Shah and the Emperor's daughter's name was Hang Li Po. So Hang Li Po arrived, arrived in a ship lah; escorted by about 500 young Chinese men lah, I read. And the when Hang Li Po got married, the rest of the 500 men just roamed around Malacca with nothing to do. No girlfriend, no wife. Some more I read ah, that time got a lot of hot Malay chick bathing by the river wan you know, wearing only wet sarongs. Those fuckers hamsap lahh. That's how the Peranakan people came about lah."

Jason got this from a menu in a Nyonya restaurant in Malacca. The truth is, according to this website is this: The Babas are descendants of an early Chinese community that settled in the Malay archipelago at least since the 17th century. Many members of the early community were seafarers who traded between the ports of southern China and those of Southeast Asia. The oldest Chinese communities can be found in Malacca. As Chinese women were by law not allowed to leave their native country until the middle of the 19th century, many of these early traders married non-Muslim natives of the Malay archipelago, such as Balinese or Batak slaves.

"Cho mi ahh, ji pa ni jeng ahh, ah ni eng ahh? Huan nah ga nang Chinese, ai marry dio marry nia lor. Bo ha mi su. Now supposed to be more civilised but then fighting all over."

(Why is, hundreds of years ago it's so easy. When the Malays want to marry our Chinese people, they just get married. No problems...")

"People think too much. People act crazy in groups lah I think."

How true. People act crazy in groups. But people act generously and for good causes in groups too. Who would listen to one man? Who would follow just one man's waving hand? Knowing the power of a group, the leader should act moderately. The leader should impose his thoughts on his members, but only thoughts which are not too radical. The recent suggestion of an MP saying that Malaysia Airlines' baju kebaya is too revealing that it provokes a man's sexual desire is one which is too radical. That is one thought which should not be spread amongst the masses less it becomes a parody in the international scene.

Yasmin, you did a good job. I'm awed at how subtlely you put the life of Malaysia in such a heart warming romantic movie. Maybe your next movie will involve a bigger racial mix?

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