When the Information, Communications and Culture Ministry announced a new ruling banning local filmmakers from showing Mat Rempit and men in women’s clothes in their productions, film producer Raja Azmi Raja Sulaiman was among those badly hit. Her currently-produced film about transsexuals, Anu Dalam Botol (literally Dick in the Bottle) has already racked a decent cost of RM100,000 (around USD28,300) before the ruling, which will go to waste if it couldn’t be shown.
Raja Azmi is known for being controversial—I can feel her spunk when she talks about censorship, the industry and her love of the limelight in today’s The Sun.
Since one of the reasons why the government imposed this draconian ruling is to fight immoral activities linked to groups of Mat Rempit and cross-dressers, Raja Azmi reasoned that:
I hate it when people say movies can encourage people to become Mat Rempit and transsexuals. Do you think movies can change people’s lives so drastically? Why do we have this mentality that if we made a movie about Mat Rempit the whole of Malaysia will become Mat Rempit. Movie-makers depict what is out there.
Frankly, I am not aware about the comparison of Malaysian films with Iran, but she raised a good point:
People ask why we don’t make movies like those by Iranian filmmakers about good people, good Muslims and innocent children. Their films have been winning awards. But do these people think there are no drug addicts in Iran, no rapists, no murderers. Of course there are no Mat Rempit because I hardly see motorbikes in Iran. But there are a lot of gays in Iran and there are a lot of “bad” men who seduce women. And Iran never made movies like that. But these things still exist in Iran. Can you can explain that?
I share her sentiments on sex, and wish more people will not only feel the same way, but are brave enough to come out with it. When accused of being a “sex maniac”, she retorted:
I believe sex maniacs are people who think about sex all the time and have many sexual partners. I am not like that. I believe that in life, you should have sex, religion and love. Your life is incomplete without these elements. You must be able to discuss these issues openly.
Sex is a creative part in a human being. There is a lot of creativity in sex. My husband and I discuss openly about sex. Every married couple should do that.
However, the best part about her is her unwillingness to kiss ass. She had this to say about our film industry:
We have too many rules.We are eager to ban this and ban that. There should be some form of censorship. (But) Too much censorship curbs our creativity.
She also claimed that the industry does not have an united front, incapable to demand more showings of local films in theatres, and furthermore:
The recent ban on movies depicting Mat Rempit and transsexuals proves that we are not united. Some film-makers do not care about the ban because they do not make this kind of movies. So they have nothing to lose and they will not speak up for producers affected by this ruling.
When asked about the reason the public do not prefer Malaysian films, she answered simply:
Our movies are of inferior quality compared to foreign films.
Way to say it, sister.
Besides producing the doomed Anu Dalam Botol, Raja Azmi is currently working on Karkuma, a novel about an epic war story between humans and demons. Awesome.
What do you think of the Malaysian film industry and government censors? Do you agree with Raja Azmi? Leave your thoughts in the comments!