A movie based on historical facts being adapted to the silver screen, Mat Kilau - Kebangkitan Pahlawan, is currently showing at cinemas nationwide.
To produce an effective historical film while balancing facts, real events and fiction is a tall order, but the film, directed by Syamsul Yusof, managed to do so and set a new benchmark for the national film industry.
What's more, not many are able to face the challenge because one of the goals of film production is to make some profit knowing full well that historical films are costly to produce and may not get a fair return.
Film researcher, Bilal Jailani, is of the view that the film, which cost about RM8mil, is able to instill a love for religion and race comparable to the film from Turkiye, Fetih 1453 in 2012 because there are similarities in terms of genre and theme.
"If the people of Turkiye feel energised with Fetih 1453, then Mat Kilau will inspire pride and patriotism in the Malaysian audience. The dialogues in the movie are laden with heart-wrenching quotes and advice that will set one's soul on fire even though it is part fiction."
"If Fetih 1453 is able to produce a successful historical drama, can Mat Kilau rekindle a sense of pride and love in the hearts of every citizen? That is the question,” he said at the premiere of the film recently.
Book author, Nisah Haron, said that one of the clear messages conveyed in Mat Kilau was about quality leadership and not being in a hurry in fighting the enemy.
"It's not a question of numbers but quality in action; following strategy and patience, clearly demonstrated by Mat Kilau (played by Datuk Adi Putra). It is a role model for today's young generation who always want something fast but in fighting the enemy, patience and following the leader is important," she said.
The recipient of the Mastera Young Literary Prize 2017 is also of the view that the production of Mat Kilau should at least provide some documentation of society in the past and portray Mat Kilau as a hero of religion, race and homeland.
"The Malays, especially today's generation, lack heroes, that's why animated stories such as Ejen Ali and other fiction movies produced by Marvel Studios always get encouraging responses," she said.
Meanwhile, history buff Zakaria Rahim said that any effort to make a history-inspired film should be supported as long as it did not distort the original story.
"Now, we are served a film that showcases Malay culture, Malay martial arts, Malay struggles, and Malay warriors. If we support films like this, then more producers will dare to invest, and more directors will dare to step in to work on historical-inspired films,” he said.
Persatuan Seniman Malaysia president, Rozaidi Abdul Jamil, better known as Zed Zaidi, acknowledged that the country still lacks national films such as Mat Kilau and hoped that more filmmakers could translate them commercially and adapt to the current situation, a fresh approach to providing today's generation with an easy understanding.
Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman Dali, the producer of Studio Kembara, which produced Mat Kilau - Kebangkitan Pahlawan, said that the purpose of producing the film was inspired by a true story to highlight the character's greatness, which has been recorded in history.
"Mat Kilau's character is also recognised by the Malaysian government. A strong leader, who adheres to religion, culture and is wise and willing to defend the homeland, even though at that time the British were among the great powers of the world.
"These noble values are to be translated so that the 'gadget' generation is not complacent and forgets their roots,” he said, adding that 60% of the film's story revolves around true events, and did not rule out the possibility of more films with such elements in future if it gets an encouraging response.
Mat Kilau - Kebangkitan Pahlawan features a star-studded cast including Beto Kusyairy, Wan Hanafi Su, Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan and Datuk Rahim Razali. - Bernama