Love is the driving force behind the new Astro First Exclusive telemovie Janji Zehan.
Directed by both Bernard Chauly and Zabrina Fernandez, it tells the story of a pair of newlyweds encountering all sorts of emotional problems while on a honeymoon in Iran.
The husband is aspiring restaurateur Arman played by Iranian actor Amir Rezazadeh while Fazura takes on the role of Zehan, a TV producer. “We’ve always been intrigued by the idea of a love story between two people from different cultures. So we wanted to explore that relationship through Janji Zehan,” said co-director Fernandez during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur.
Janji Zehan was shot in Iran during a two-week production period last October. Some of the locations highlighted in the telemovie include the historical city of Persepolis, the stunning Nasir Ol Molk mosque and the sacred Tomb of Hafez.
Chauly adores Iran and couldn’t resist the opportunity to make a movie in the country.
Of course, it wasn’t hard for Chauly to get Fazura on board.
“The moment Bernard said ‘I have something for you...’, I said ‘yes’ without even looking at the script. As you all know, Bernard and I go way back. I feel that the bond we have as director-actress is really special,” she said.
The actress has starred in a number of Chauly’s productions including Gol & Gincu, Pisau Cukur and Manisnya Cinta Di Cappadocia.
But even Fazura has her doubts about filming in a strict country like Iran.
“I asked Bernard ... ‘Is it safe?’ because I’m planning to get married!” she said with a laugh.
Fernandez agreed, saying she, too, was nervous about filming in Iran.
Chauly assured his cast and crew that Iran is one of the safest countries that he has been to.
How Real Life Experiences Inspired Janji Zehan
Interestingly, the journey that Fazura’s character goes through in Janji Zehan coincided with a new development in the actress’ life last year. She revealed that prior to going to Iran for the shoot, her then-boyfriend actor Fattah Amin (who is now her husband) had just proposed to her.
Chauly thought the timing was perfect: “I told Fazura that she is going to get a taste of what married life is really like through her character Zehan. In Janji Zehan, there are times when the wife asks herself if she really knows her husband.”
He shared how some of the heartfelt conversations in the telemovie was inspired by his own cast.
During pre-production, Fazura and Amir spent two days getting to know each other with a bonding exercise.
“I usually prepare a script for the scene and I let my actors come up with their own lines. The scenes where Zehan talks about her favourite childhood memory and why her last relationship didn’t work out are from Fazura’s own experience,” Chauly revealed.
Ultimately, Chauly hopes viewers will give Janji Zehan a chance despite its realistic style of storytelling. Instead of giving audience the usual romantic scenes set against a love song, Janji Zehan features a lot of monologues about doubts and regrets.
The telemovie explores the many conflicts and relationship woes present in modern day society, something that is not typically showcased in local romantic offerings.
“It’s clear that our strategy for this telemovie is to tap into the young contemporary audience. We want to test our audience in hopes that they will grow and diversify their viewing habits,” Chauly concluded.