- RatedPG13 /GenreComedy, Drama
- + Be the first to review
The feature film ‘Banting’, covered in our ‘Definitive Guide to New Singapore Films 2014’, is finally here in Singapore cinemas.
Helmed by veteran scriptwriter and TV director M Raihan Halim, ‘Banting’ is one of the very first Malay feature films to be made in Singapore in many years, together with Sanif Olek’s Oscar-shortlisted ‘Sayang Disayang’.
The last time in recent memory that a major Malay language motion picture was produced here was likely during the golden age of P Ramlee films back in the 1950s and 1960s.
Even though MediaCorp Suria channel has been broadcasting Malay TV drama and content for years, it feels like a refreshing novelty to watch a contemporary local Malay film on the big screen, and ‘Banting’ is a fun and entertaining movie to watch.
A TEEN GIRL’S SECRET
The story premise of ‘Banting’ asks the fundamental question: “Can a Muslim girl do everything that other girls do?”
The movie’s heroine is Yasmin Muhamid (Izyan Mellyna Ishak), an 18-year-old Muslim raised in a strict religious household, under the watchful eyes of her conservative mother Halimah (Mastura Ahmad).
Smart, witty and vivacious, the character of Yasmin reminds one of Sharifah Amani’s characters in films by the late Yasmin Ahmad – essentially a spirited Malay girl who doesn’t conform to societal norms and prejudices.
The teenager tries really hard to do her mother’s bidding, but everything changes when she chances upon the sport of professional wrestling, and with hard work and determination, she transforms into her masked alter ego – the tough and fearsome Zarith Blade, slamming her way into being a crowd favourite in the ring.
She even becomes a YouTube sensation with her gravity defying stunts.
Yasmin is further encouraged by a very supportive friend Zaidy (Fauzie Laily), a doting grandfather, and her tough-as-nails wrestling coach, played by veteran actor Jimmy Taenaka.
Needless to say, her nighttime wrestling escapades are kept secret from her mum, but the truth cannot be hidden for long.
Complicating matters is a potential university scholarship for further studies overseas, and her relationship with Zaidy.
‘Banting’ is a coming-of-age story and a very inspiring one, meant to encourage people to dream big and pursue their goals against all odds.
The young leading cast of Izyan and Fauzie are very likable, and both share a natural chemistry, making them believable as longtime childhood friends.
Fauzie, a popular artiste on Suria and Channel 5, showcases his talents in music by writing and performing a couple of theme songs in this movie.
The film’s pace is a breeze, the dialogue is witty, and when the scene calls for it, both the young and veteran actors deliver heartfelt performances in spades. Even the cameos and extras in the film are surprisingly laugh-out-loud funny.
Spot a brief cameo by the director himself among the super enthusiastic crowd in the wrestling matches.
The only drawback is probably the budget constraints that affect the production value somewhat, but you will be willing to forgive that given the strong script and performance.
If you prefer watching multi-million dollar films with fanciful special effects, there are plenty of expensive Hollywood blockbusters out there.
But the drive and passion invested in this indie movie will hopefully make us pause to reflect on how we have forgotten how beautiful it is to truly feel passionate about something, and to support those who dare to take the plunge to pursue and realise their dreams as director Raihan has.
‘Banting’ is a timely reminder of that.
‘Banting’ is now showing in cinemas