Playing his hero

  • Arts
  • Wednesday, 06 Nov 2013

Bring it on!: Awie is squaring up to the challenge of playing Datuk Mokhtar Dahari in the musical SuperMokh.

Awie takes on the role of his career in SuperMokh The Musical

CONSUMMATE actor. That’s the description which came to mind throughout a recent interview with rocker-actor Awie, who was more than pleased to talk about his lead role in the upcoming SuperMokh The Musical at Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur, which starts today.

Looked visibly thinner despite the thick pullover he wore last Friday, the 45-year-old rocker has practically “lived” his role as Datuk Mokhtar Dahari in the past month. Apart from the musical’s script, Awie has been training hard and getting himself in shape for the role of the football legend.

Still sporting his pony-tail, Awie, whose real name is Ahmad Azhar Othman, confessed that he was more nervous than ever now that the musical date is finally here.

“This is my biggest challenge yet – the role of a national football legend. Mokhtar was loved by so many and he was also known as a man of few words,” he admitted.

Presented by Tall Order Productions and Jugra Publication, the musical on the life of the iconic striker – fondly known as SuperMokh – is directed by Hans Isaac and Harith Iskander, who also wrote the script.

“I was really surprised to be offered the role. I’m actually scared – there’s a lot of pressure to get it right. You know, will I be able to do him justice on stage?” asked Awie.

Awie also related that his late dad was a big fan. And as a child, he grew up with the football exploits and stories of Mokhtar – in the Selangor shirt and Malaysian national strip.

“So, you can understand my apprehension thinking about his fans and family’s expectations of seeing his story on stage. It was nice to hear that Mokhtar’s children were all excited about this production,” he said with a wide grin. Initially, the charismatic Awie did struggle to find the colour and personality needed to pull off the Mokthar role. You see, the football star was a reserved man.

“There was so little on Mokhtar ... no extensive interviews or TV appearances. Apart from his cameo role in the movie Mekanik, the videos on YouTube are mostly of him playing football. The thought of studying his mannerism, character, tones, facial expressions really consumed me that I had a dream of him.

“It was two weeks ago and I was in Malacca for a show. I couldn’t sleep that night and later Mokhtar appeared in my dream. I really don’t remember much, but I remember asking him to help me to understand him better. And he did!

"In the dream Mokhtar was making conversations, he ‘showed’ me his postures in different (football) situations, things such as how he leaned on the wall while talking ... how he straightened his upper body while talking ... all that in my dream! When I woke up I had goosebumps. Even now telling you all this I have goosebumps!” said Awie adding that it could be due to stressplaying tricks on him.

Tricks or not, last week Awie decided to show Mokhtar’s wife Datin Tengku Zarina Tengku Ibrahim the new facial expressions he learnt from the dream. Much to his surprise, she acknowledged the uncanny resemblances.

“You know, if I can achieve even 50% of the late Mokhtar’s personality and mannerisms, that will be a great blessing already.

“Personally, I feel that Mokhtar is local football saint. While Ghani Minhat is the Raja Bola ... it was Mokhtar who brought Malaysian football to the next level.”

Did Awie dig deeper about his lead character and learn about Mokthar’s love for music?

“I also found that Mokhtar was a big music fan. I know for a fact that his favourite song was Santa Esmeralda’s You’re My Everything, apart from local tunes from the Alleycats and Kembara.”

Well, what about Wings’ songs? Mokhtar must have heard about Awie’s band Wings in the mid-1980s.

“Well, to be honest I didn’t ask his family,” said Awie with a laugh. He also added that he will be performing five brand new songs in the musical.

Awie also said that whenever he had doubts in playing certain scenes, he woud refer to Zarina and Mokhtar’s younger brother Mohd Nor Dahari to help him to get it right.

A two-time winner the Boh Cameronian Best Actor Award for Cuci The Musical and Lat The Musical, Awie explained that it doesn’t help his nerves that the patron of the production is none other than the Sultan of Selangor himself, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, who is a fan of the late SuperMokh.

“Before this, I hadn’t touched a football in 30 years,” revealed the Ampang, Selangor-raised Awie, who used to play frequently in school (usually as a goalkeeper). But he stopped playing football after he started his music career in the 1980s.

“As long as I don’t look fat in the No. 10 football jersey and the super low cut shorts from the 1970s, I should be alright,” he concluded.

Related story:

The woman behind the legend

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Playing his hero


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