S. Ganapragasam has been in the entertainment business for 22 years and believes Malaysian cinema is entering a new golden age.
Last year, Malaysian film ‘Tiger Stripes’ won the grand prize for Best Feature at the International Critics’ Week at the Cannes Film Festival. It was the first movie from Southeast Asia to earn the award.
‘Abang Adik’ won three prizes at Italy’s Far East Film Festival – the Golden Mulberry Audience Award, the Black Dragon Critics’ Prize, and the White Mulberry Award for Best First Feature. Taiwanese actor Wu Kang Ren, who plays Chen Ah-bang in the movie, won Best Actor at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards.
Local movies are also starting to make big bucks. ‘Mat Kilau’ set a record when it earned nearly RM100 million at the box office locally and abroad in 2022, while ‘Polis Evo 3’ earned RM54 million domestically last year.
“Malaysian films are gaining traction, not just at home, but overseas, too,” said Ganapragasam, better known as Gana.
“Malaysians are flocking to streaming platforms like Netflix to watch movies and TV shows in multiple languages.
“Malaysians have begun to realise that some of our local films are on a par with shows on the streaming service. So, we filmmakers must up our game to capture their attention.”
That is why Ganapragasam, once dubbed Malaysia’s King of Comedy, said his latest movie – ‘Curry Mee’ – out in 40 cinemas nationwide on Feb 15, will be in Bahasa Melayu, Tamil, and Mandarin.
The decision to include the three languages lends authenticity to the narrative, which Ganapragasam hopes will resonate with Malaysia’s diverse population.
The film is about two gangsters – Gana and Echo Quah – who control a village in an estate but then have a falling out over a business deal.
They go their separate ways, but many years later, circumstances reunite them after their children meet and fall in love.
The two ‘enemies’ then turn to the village head, Ropie Pakodi, to help them resolve their differences, and hilarity ensues.
Ganapragasam, who wrote the story and screenplay, said he had included some social commentary in the movie as he wanted people to realise how united Malaysians can be.
He has been working on the film since 2022 after receiving a grant from the National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas).
“We were supposed to release the movie last year but delayed it as I wanted everything to be perfect,” said Ganapragasam, who added that the film is in Dolby Surround Sound 7.1.
“This is the first film I have ever done with that sound system, even though not all cinemas in Malaysia have it. The technical aspects of the filming are based on Netflix’s requirements, as we hope ‘Curry Mee’ will be on the streaming service.
“We have also had interest in the movie from an Indian pay-TV company. That is a good sign.”
Ganapragasam, who ran in the Selangor elections last year, said he hopes people can put aside their partisan feelings about him when they watch ‘Curry Mee’.
“Yes, I am involved in politics, but I am also an artist, and this movie is about entertaining Malaysians of all races and religions,” said Ganapragasam, who contested in the Subang Jaya seat under the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia ticket.
“This movie will help Malaysians laugh at themselves. I hope more people come to see it.
“Don’t bring politics into the entertainment business. See and judge the movie on its merit, not because of who is involved in it,” he added.