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Sunday June 3, 2007

Will Dukun ever charm viewers?


KUALA LUMPUR: Dukun, Astro Shaw’s RM2.8mil movie that is said to be loosely based on the Mona Fandey case, is completed but may never be released for public screening. 

This is because “top people in Astro” regard the film as “too controversial” and that it “would not give Astro a good name,” sources told The Star

Bewitching role: Umie Aida as Diana Dahlan in the movie ‘Dukun’ said to be loosely based on the Mona Fandey case.
“Astro said no to the film after all the work was done and despite the Censorship Board passing it without cuts and giving it a U rating,” said a source. 

The source added that producer Dominique Hee and her two assistants had resigned from Astro Shaw and that Hee’s next project, Botak, based on the real-life exploits of notorious criminal Botak Chin, had been canned.  

Hee, when contacted, confirmed she had left the company but declined to elaborate. 

After Dukun’s release was postponed twice – in December and again in March – the Malay dailies reported in April that Astro Shaw was holding it back and reviewing its contents. 

Astro Shaw executive director Tengku Datuk Anuar Mussaddad declined to comment but the company has issued a statement reiterating that it was still reviewing the film, which was produced by its subsidiary Karya Anggun, and that no decision had yet been made.  

However, it added there had been sentiments expressed “concerning the appropriateness of the theme of the film for general release.” 

“These sentiments revolve around segments of the film which are perceived as having been taken from actual events,” said the statement. “In the context of the sensitivities and concerns that have been expressed and in view of the attention received by the film, we have decided to review it in order to ensure that its release will not offend public and private sensitivities.” 

Those who had seen Dukun, which stars Umie Aida and Faizal Hussein, described it as a brilliant film and good entertainment. 

“I think it is a brilliant debut (by director Dain Iskandar Said),” said Yee I-Lann, who was production designer for the film. “It has its flaws, but it has got a superb script and some of the best acting I have seen in a Malaysian movie.” 

An industry source concurred that Dukun was of “high quality.” 

“It is pure entertainment and is a movie that was made with consideration to what audiences want,” said the source. “I like it and you can see the effort that was put into making it.” 

A source close to the film’s production team said Dukun had drawn interest from film distributors in Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Korea, France and the United States. 

Dukun is widely believed to be based on the infamous case of Mona Fandey, the bomoh who, together with her accomplices, murdered Batu Talam assemblyman Datuk Mazlan Idris in 1993.  

There were rumours that Mona’s family had threatened a multi-million ringgit lawsuit against the filmmakers, but Astro Shaw had since dispelled those rumours. The company had also denied that the film is based on any actual events. 

In its statement, Astro Shaw said Dukun is “a work of fiction” and “an adaptation of a courtroom drama” with “loose and coincidental resemblance to a murder trial that took place several years ago.” 

While she is dismayed with the current situation, Hee said all those involved in the movie should feel proud. 

“We’ve been wanting to make a good film for a long time. Now that we have done so, is it not reason to celebrate? We have reached a stumbling block regarding its release, but at least we’ve made a film that I feel we should be proud of,” she said. 

Dain, who is currently in Indonesia, said that he was very much in the dark about the recent events surrounding his movie. 

“As far as I am concerned, I have done my job and delivered the film, but a lot of people put their hearts and souls into the project and it would be a major disappointment if Dukun is not released,” he added.  

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