Actor Ernest Chong cried when he first read the script for the upcoming telemovie, Back To You. “It took me about three sittings before I finally finished reading the script because each time I read it, I cried so much, I had to put it away for a while,” said the 35-year-old.
Back To You opens with the story of a mother, Xiu Min (Remon Lim), who gave away her daughter 28 years ago. Xiu Min was told she would receive regular updates from the girl’s new family but is not allowed to meet her. After a while, the updates stopped coming.
Xiu Min later learns that the family has gone bankrupt and the daughter she entrusted them with was left at an orphanage. Xiu Min has no details of her whereabouts and loses contact from her daughter completely.
Although 28 years have passed, Xiu Min has not forgotten the day she gave her daughter away. Her son Zhi Cheng (Chong) knows his mother longs to see her daughter again and decides to search for her.
The search turns out to be fruitful and Xiu Min discovers what happened to her daughter after she was left at the orphanage. Sofia (Jasmine Suraya Chin) was adopted and raised by a Muslim family.
Xiu Min has so much to say to her but is unable to do so, as Sofia can’t speak Chinese and Xiu Min can’t speak Malay. Determined to converse with her daughter, Xiu Min decides to learn Malay.
“I cried seeing how Xiu Min worked so hard at learning Malay so she could speak to Sofia. There was a scene in the show when she had just learned to speak a bit of Malay and decided to give her daughter a call. She couldn’t say much except the words, ‘Saya rindu anak saya (I miss my child)’. I was deeply moved,” Chong said.
Besides seeing the different cultures coming together to learn more about each other, Chong says what attracted him to the project is the film’s powerful depiction of family relationships.
Chong is no stranger to emotionally-charged family dramas. In the critically-acclaimed 2018 film, Guang, he plays a man struggling to provide for himself and his autistic older brother, and explores the relationship between the two.
Chong talks about filming Guang, which won numerous accolades and was screened at multiple international film festivals: “One of the reasons why viewers find our relationship as brothers so natural is because the moment our roles were confirmed, we spent the next three months getting to know each other before going into filming.”
Chong, who began his acting journey 16 years ago, is devoting more time to producing these days but is always on the lookout for interesting acting roles.