Five Easy Pieces: Producer Speaks About Dukun

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It’s been 10 years since the supernatural thriller Dukun was made. But even today, no one involved in its production would talk publicly about what happened to the film. Absolutely no one. This lends the whole affair a real cloak-and-dagger aura.

Dukun was inspired by the notorious real-life case of Mona Fandey, a gruesome murder that involved a politician and black magic. According to the facts of the case, the politician had sought help from Mona and her husband who were believed to have shamanistic powers that would help the parliamentary assemblyman in his political ambitions. Instead, the politician’s body parts were later found buried nearby the couple’s house.

This was just the beginning of the case’s notoriety. What followed was even more intriguing, as Mona and her accomplices were arrested and imprisoned while on trial. Rumours begin spreading about Mona’s strangeness, and after the couple were found guilty and hanged, even more rumours were spread about supernatural incidences in her cell.

All these are ripe for a novel or movie, and sure enough, production began five years later on Dukun. The story is told from the perspective of the defendant’s lawyer, Karim, played by Faizal Hussein, who is also the narrator. The film follows the murder of a wealthy Datuk by the black magician Diana Dahlan, played by Umie Aida, and the trial that follows.

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Although it cannot be substantiated, there was word that the family of the murdered politician wasn’t too happy about the film. But according to Wikipedia:

The family of Mona Fandey have voiced their dissatisfaction over the content and basis of the movie after announcement of the film release. The producers have since then denied that the film is wholly based on the true events, but that it was merely inspired by those events.

What the truth is, is anybody’s guess. The only concrete fact is that the public never got to see Dukun, because it was never released, although the trailer was played for some time in the cinemas leading up to it’s intended release date.

But until today, people still talk about the film, and still wonder if it will ever be shown. The real-life murder case was so highly publicised that it never disappeared from the collective memory of Malaysians, which is why they are still calling for the film to be released. There were also rumours that all prints of the film were subsequently destroyed. Again, I stress that these are all just rumours.

The only known facts are:

  • No one involved in the film will talk about it
  • No one has admitted that they have a copy of the film
  • No one knows if the film will ever be released, or whether it still exists
  • Everyone agrees that the trailer looked really good

There is really no doubt that with the murder case’s infamous reputation, Dukun would have been a big hit. Perhaps even a record-breaker. Everyone from the producer Dominique Hee to the director Dain Said and the actors have moved on since, but the moviegoing public hasn’t.

Recently I caught up with Hee and got her to agree to talk about Dukun. Still, she refuses to reveal much, which says a lot about just how powerful the forces behind the suppression of the film are.

Hee was also the producer of Spinning Gasing, the multiracial road movie released in 2000, the largely English-language film that we all thought would change the face of the industry for its daring portrayal of interracial love. Unfortunately it didn’t make much of an impact at the box-office.

I posed five easy questions to Hee.

sg1. What really happened to Dukun?

It was deemed unsuitable for release by the decision-makers, is all I can say for now. What was unsuitable? I really have no idea. The censorship board passed it clean.

2. It’s been a decade or so since Dukun was made. Will Malaysians ever get to see the film?

Dukun was completed on December 4, 2006, so ya, nearly a decade ago! How time flies. As for a general screening of Dukun, your guess is as good as mine.

3. How do you feel, as a producer, having worked so hard on Dukun and then never having it see the light of day?

I have moved on, so honestly I don’t feel very much now. My eldest son Montaray asked me recently if I had produced a film called Dukun. His friends had apparently googled and watched all they could find and then told him, “Hey, your mum is the producer of Dukun! Can you please ask her for a private screening?” Haha, I must admit I was rather surprised, both at my son for not knowing and young people still curious about the film. I’m talking about 25-year-olds.

4. In hindsight, Spinning Gasing was really a courageous, pioneering effort that ushered in a new English-language, urbane and multiracial Malaysian cinema. Do you think Spinning Gasing was too ahead of its time and Malaysians were not ready for it?

Spinning Gasing, hmm … my first. Gosh, that was one hell of a ride. Not knowing anything and diving straight into the water. It was pirated before we even released it in the cinemas, and so much was cut out. Was it before its time? No la. When is it ever a right time?

5. Are you still involved in film today, or producing any films?

Yes, I am still involved in the industry. Having done production, distribution, dabbled in acquisition, I could not say no when GSC offered a stint in exhibition. The last piece of the pie, so to speak. Will I be producing another film ? Yes, and I hope so, when I find the script that makes me want to bound out of bed and get started right away.

 

VERSI BAHASA MALAYSIA

Sepuluh tahun telah berlalu sejak filem seram Dukun dihasilkan. Namun begitu, tidak ada seorang yang terlibat dengan produksi Dukun berani tampil untuk bercakap tentang apa yang telah berlaku kepada filem itu. Ini menjadikan keadaan lebih misteri.

Dukun diilhamkan dari kisah benar mengenai kes Mona Fandey yang terkenal, melibatkan pembunuhan seorang ahli politik dan ilmu hitam. Menurut fakta, orang politik itu telah mendapatkan khidmat Mona dan suaminya yang dipercayainya boleh menggunakan ilmu mereka untuk membantu karier politiknya. Tetapi mayat ahli politik itu yang telah dikerat ditemui ditanam berdekatan dengan rumah pasangan suami isteri itu.

Ini hanya merupakan permulaan kes yang aneh ini. Mona dan rakan-rakannya yang terlibat ditahan dan dipenjara semasa perbicaraan dijalankan. Macam-macam diperkatakan orang tentang Mona dan kelakuannya di dalam penjara, dan selepas beliau dan suaminya di hukum gantung, timbul pula kisah-kisah aneh yang kononnnya berlaku dalam bilik penjaranya.

Semua ini memanglah sesuai dimuatkan dalam novel ataupun filem. Dan lima tahun kemudian, memang dihasilkan sebuah filem bertajuk Dukun. Dalam filem itu, segala peristiwa dikisahkan dari pespektif peguam defendan yang dilakonkan oleh Faizal Hussein, yang juga menjadi narrator. Ia mengisahkan pembunuhan seorang Datuk yang kaya oleh seorang pengamal ilmu hitam bernama Diana Dahlan, dilakonkan oleh Umie Aida, dan perbicaraan yang menyusul.

Walaupun tiada bukti yang menyokong, ada yang mengatakan bahawa keluarga ahli politik yang dibunuh itu tidak senang hati dengan filem itu. Tetapi menurut Wikipedia:

Keluarga Mona Fandey menyuarakan rasa tidak puas hati mereka tentang kandungan filem itu selepas tarikh tayngannya diumumkan. Para penerbit kemudiannya menafikan bahawa filem itu berdasarkan kes sebenar dan hanya mendapat ilham darinya.

Tiada siapa pun tahu apa yang sebenarnya berlaku. Mereka yang tahu tidak mahu bersuara. Yang kita tahu, Dukun tidak ditayangkan kepada umum walaupun trailernya telah dimainkan di panggung untuk seketika sebelum tayangannya ditarik.

Tetapi masih lagi kedengaran desas-desus tentang filem ini di kalangan peminat-peminat filem. Sememangnya ramai masih tertanya-tanya, bilakah filem Dukun akan ditayangkan. Kes Mona Fandey sukar dilupakan. Juga ada khabar angin yang menyatakan bahawa kesemua print filem itu telah dimusnahkan. Saya ingin menegaskan bahawa semua ini hanya khabar angin.

Yang kita tahu hanyalah:

  • Tiada seorang pun yang terlibat dengan filem itu berani bersuara
  • Tiada siapa pun yang mengakui ada menyimpan salinan filem itu
  • Tiada siapa tahu filem itu akan ditayang atau tidak, samada printnya masih wujud
  • Ramai berpendapat bahawa trailernya amat menarik

Oleh sebab kes Mona Fandey sangat terkenal, filem Dukun memang telah dijangka akan menjadi hit, mungkin juga mampu mencipta rekod di box-office. Malangnya, semua tidak menjadi. Kesemua yang terlibat dalam pembikinannya – penerbit Dominique Hee, pengarahnya Dain Said serta para pelakon – telahpun melupakan segalanya dan meneruskan kerjaya masing-masing. Tetapi orangramai masih tidak dapat lupakan Dukun.

Baru-baru ini saya menghubungi Hee untuk bercakap tentang Dukun. Tetapi beliau masih tidak mahu bercakap banyak tentang filem penerbitannya itu. Ini membuktikan betapa berkesannya tindakan mereka yang tidak mahu filem Dukun ditayangkan.

Hee juga penerbit filem Spinning Gasing, sebuah road movie dengan pelakon berbagai kaum, yang ditayangkan dalam tahun 2000. Pada masa itu, ramai yang telah mengharapkan perubahan positif bakal dibawa oleh Spinning Gasing yang banyak menggunakan bahasa Inggeris. Tetapi filem itu tidak berjaya di box-office.

Saya mengemukakan lima soalan kepada Hee.

1. Apa sebenarnya berlaku kepada Dukun?

Ia dikatakan tidak sesuai untuk tayangan umum, satu keputusan yang dibuat oleh pihak tertentu. Itu sahaja yang boleh saya dedahkan. Ada apa dalam filem itu yang tidak sesuai? Saya langsung tidak tahu. Lembaga Penapisan Filem telahpun meluluskannya tanpa potongan.

2. Satu dekad telah berlalu sejak Dukun dihasilkan. Adakah orang Malaysia akan dapat menontonnya?

Dukun siap pembikinannya pada Disember 4, 2006. Memang sudah satu dekad! Adakah ia akan ditayang? Entahlah.

3. Sebagai penerbit, apakah perasaan anda apabila hasil penat lelah titik peluh anda tidak dapat ditayangkan langsung?

Saya sudah melupakan segalanya. Jadi saya sudah tidak merasa apa-apa. Anak lelaki sulung saya ada bertanya pada saya, adakah benar saya penerbit filem Dukun? Kawan-kawannya telah mecari online dan menonton apa yang ada di Internet. Dan mereka berkata, “Hey, emak awak penerbit Dukun! Boleh minta tayangan khas tak?” Haha, saya memang terkejut yang anak saya tidak tahu tentang filem ini dan orang muda hari ini masih bertanya. Ini golongan berumur 25 tahun.

4. Spinning Gasing memang satu percubaan yang berani, sebuah filem bahasa Inggeris dengan karakter berbagai kaum yang mengisahkan tentang orang bandar. Mungkinkah ia terlalu mendahului zaman dan peminat filem Malaysia masa itu masih belum mampu menerimanya?

Spinning Gasing … hmm, terbitan pertama saya. Wow, satu pengalaman yang sukar dilupakan. Masa itu saya masih mentah lagi dalam kerja pembikinan filem. Ia telah dicetak rompak sebelum ditayang di panggung. Dan banyak juga yang dipotong. Mendahului zaman? Tak lah. Masa dan zaman tidak boleh diambil kira.

5. Adakah anda masih terlibat dalam industri filem, dan adakah anda masih menerbit filem?

Ya, saya masih terlibat. Setelah mendapat pengalaman dari segi produksi, pengedaran dan pembelian filem, saya tidak teragak-agak bila ditawar kerja dalam bidang penayangan oleh GSC. Dengan ini, pengalaman saya dalam bidang filem sudah kira lengkap. Saya juga berharap dapat menerbit filem lagi, dan saya hanya tunggu skrip yang sesuai.

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