Yasmin Ahmad was laid to rest earlier this week. I still find myself mourning her way, way too premature death though.
As expected, the tributes have kept on pouring in. Among the most amazing I've read is what amounts to a letter to Yasmin written by Pete Teo on his blog. And it was while reading this post by ewaffle on his blog that I got to realizing that Yasmin managed to emotionally impact even those who have not (yet) viewed a single one of her feature films. Which is why I figured I might as well go ahead and post a trailer of my favorite of her works, Sepet, a tale of inter-ethnic romance told with that trademark Yasmin Ahmad dose of humanity.
Because the trailer's so multi-lingual, I previously hesitated to post it. But now... except that what I've also done is provide a guide of sorts for people who can't understand Bahasa Malaysia (i.e., the Malay language) or Cantonese down below it. Hope it helps. And in any case, I hope you'll enjoy and appreciate one more example of Yasmin the storyteller's talent, even genius...
A song by Hong Kong singer-actor Sam Hui (sung in Cantonese) plays over much of the trailer... the opening shot of which shows an ethnic Malay lass dressed for Muslim prayer who proceeds to kiss a copy of the Quran. Soon after, the words "a Yasmin Ahmad film" flash on the screen.
Then you hear the lass saying, in English "I think" before switching to Bahasa Malaysia (Malaysian -- really, Malay -- language) to complete her thought that "of all the many, many actors, he's the most handsome[? I had problems hearing the word]."
"Who?" her friend asks.
"Takeshi Kaneshiro" (The Taiwanese-Japanese actor also known as Gum Sing Mo and Aniki Jin), she replies.
Next is a scene of a typical Malaysian outdoor market.
At a VCD stall, the lass asks the vendor in Malaysian English if he's got any VCDs of films with Takeshi Kaneshiro in it.
The ethnic Chinese guy tells her in Malay: Don't call me "boss". Then switches to English to tell her: "My name is Jason." Then he switches to Cantonese to ask her: "What is your name?"
"Orked", she tells him.
Over a scene of Jason's family having dinner (incidentally, his family members are all ethnic Chinese but his mother, it gets established early in the film, is a Malay-speaking Nonya (a kind of Chinese with centuries of historical roots in what is now known as Malaysia), she says in English that "He doesn't know me well enough to like me... but he loves me."
Then, as the scene switches to a more action shot, she can be heard saying -- still in English -- that "You guys (i.e., Jason and his friend Keong) are not like what I imagined guys in this area would be like..."
Next, the scene changes again to one in which Jason can be heard asking Orked in English: "Do you trust me?"
At around the one minute mark, we are introduced to other characters in the film: first, Orked's parents and their maid (who's pretty much like family) for the first time; then Jason's friend, Keung; and then still others.
As Orked and her mother hug and cry, her father can be heard saying in Malay "I think this boy is not suitable [for you]..."
(And in case that sounds like a bad way to end, here's pointing out that in the film, Orked's mother retorts by telling her husband that that's exactly what her father had said about him...)
Again, thank you so much, Yasmin. And I really hope that your work and your very life ends up inspiring lots to do good and be more like you.
P.S. To those who didn't know, Yasmin Ahmad was a fellow blogger. A few years back, in reaction to some (Malaysian Malay) critics accusing her of dirtying the Malay culture with her multi-cultural films, she posted an impassioned blog entry entitled In Praise of Mongrels. I sincerely hope this and other parts of her blogs are allowed to remain in cyberspace for a long time to come.