(From left) Lillian Wenwen, Yumi Wong, Danny Koo, Toh Chai Chung in dengue prevention campus comedy Mokissu.
Mokissu is a light-hearted movie with an important message about a deadly disease.
WITH the dengue problem currently setting off alarm bells in Malaysia, dengue prevention movie Mokissu is indeed timely.
The made-in-Malaysia campus comedy is supported by Malaysia’s Health Ministry, which recently launched a Combating Dengue Campaign to spread awareness and educate students about the deadly menace.
Pronounced “Mo-Kiss-U” (a play on “mosquito”), the Chinese language film is produced by Pelangi Publishing Group, a prominent publisher of educational materials and teaching aids that is currently venturing into movie production and home video releases. It is scripted and directed by photojournalist-turned-filmmaker Tai Min Hwee, who is known for other campus comedies like White Ants, Wonder Of Little Fatty, Orphan Wonderland, and Lost In The Jungle.
“I’ve been making campus comedies for a few years and wanted to inject a more impactful message in my new project,” Tai recounted during a recent press conference. “I recalled how one of my cast members caught dengue virus, so I decided to add in dengue prevention elements to show viewers how to protect themselves from dengue. And then I weaved in other elements of romance and comedy for light-hearted and entertaining story.”
Tai has been conducting roadshows in several states to promote the movie with Mokissu main cast members as well as health officers from the Health Ministry.
The movie stars newcomers like Yumi Wong, Danny Koo, Toh Chai Chung, Lillian Wenwen who play ordinary students in a school where dengue unexpectedly breaks out.
Wong clarified that Mokissu was actually her first film, and that Ah Beng: Mission Impossible, which opened in cinemas earlier this year, was actually her second one. Playing a spoilt girl who wanted her father to get her a smartphone for her birthday, Wong said she felt it was quite a challenge to play someone quite unlike herself.
“In the movie, I had to throw a tantrum and be rude to my father. I felt really bad every time I said my lines, so I would apologise after each take! I never ask (my parents) for things that way – if I want anything for myself, I would earn my own money and buy it myself. My father disapproves of that sort of unbecoming behaviour,” shared Wong.
Wong, who started started her career as a model, said her posture posed a problem initially. “People kept pointing out to me that my back was too straight, and that I should be more relaxed in order to play a student. So, I had to constantly remind myself and change my habits.”
Wearing dentures to play a schoolboy with buck teeth, Koo was happy to make his film debut with such a unusual-looking character, though his company was initially not too keen on a role that “ruined” his looks. “Being an actor means having the opportunity to portray all sorts of different characters anyway, so I decided to take the leap. It was initially a real challenge to say my lines as the dentures would often fall out and make everyone on the set laugh uncontrollably!”
Koo, who hosts children’s programmes on Astro’s Xiao Tai Yang (CH 325), also shared his experience with a friend who came down with dengue.
“I’ve heard about the symptoms, such as fever and chills, the itchy skin rash, the muscle and joint pain, the headaches and backaches. It was quite terrible to be suffering from dengue,” said Koo of the mosquito-borne viral infection.
Mokissu also features a cameo by the director’s famous sister, Taiwan-based singer-songwriter Penny Tai, who plays a secondary school teacher. Penny also sang the movie soundtrack How I Miss You, while her multi-talented brother wrote another two songs in the movie: one titled Ye Chang Meng Duo sung by Koo and the other titled Ru Guo You Yi Tian which Tai recorded by himself.
Mokissu buzzes into cinemas nationwide on March 20