Why Somali American actor Musa Aden is proud to be in Malaysian movie 'Malbatt: Misi Bakara'

Aden Musa says he had a good time working with the Malaysian cast and crew. Photos: Handout

Malbatt: Misi Bakara has certainly resonated with the audience, earning RM26mil at the box office after 11 days of screening in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore.

The film is also a project that Somali American actor Musa Aden is proud to be a part of.

Malbatt depicts Malaysian peacekeepers stationed in Somalia, Mogadishu, in 1993, participating in a mission to rescue American soldiers trapped behind enemy lines.

The incident was the basis for the 2001 film Black Hawk Down, directed by Ridley Scott. However, in that film there was no mention of Malaysian Batallion (Malbatt).

Director Adrian Teh rectifies that by telling the Black Hawk Down story from the point of view of the Malaysian soldiers who were there.

Aden plays an interpreter in Malbatt, working closely with the Malaysian soldiers in the field.

At a press meet in July, Teh mentioned that besides showcasing Malaysians' bravery in carrying out the dangerous mission, he felt it was equally important to show that the real victims of the civil war in Somalia were the locals.

Many are innocent civilians caught in the crossfire of a war they didn't want.

To emphasise this point, Teh reached out to Aden, who was born in Bakara, Somalia and is now an American.

He was five years old when his family managed to flee Somalia at the end of 1993 to Kenya. They eventually reached the United States as refugees in 1999.

As Aden recalled, he was not spared from the horrors of war as a child.

"Yes we left, but we saw people getting killed all the time there. As a young kid, hearing gunshots became normal. When your house is hit by bullets, it's normal.

“At the beginning, it's scary, but after a while, you are grateful when you get to see another day."

One of the touching scenes in Malbatt involves Aden and Shaheizy's characters. One of the touching scenes in Malbatt involves Aden and Shaheizy's characters.

The 33-year-old actor added that he was immediately keen to be a part of Teh's movie when he was contacted by Teh's production company.

He shared: "I have played many roles, some as terrorists, but nobody has ever given me the role of a good person in Somalia.

“I came to Turkiye to shoot the film with Adrian and other cast members, and it was difficult because it was so hot. But working with (Shaheizy) Sam and all the other great actors helped with the difficulties."

One of the standout scenes in the film involves Aden's character just crumbling in the middle of a gunfight after his family is forced to flee from their home.

According to Aden, it was a challenging scene for him as it was an emotional moment for his character, and they had to shoot that scene multiple times.

He said: "We had to do the scene 12 times because we had to get the shot right. So, I had to cry 12 times. But Adrian always gave me time to get into my character's head, which is very important."

For Aden, what was at stake was more than just his performance; his character's loss is the reality in Somalia, and it was crucial to convey that.

Aden Musa is proud to be a cast member of Malbatt, that he flew from the US for the red carpet event in Malaysia. Aden Musa is proud to be a cast member of Malbatt, that he flew from the US for the red carpet event in Malaysia.

When StarLifestyle asked him about his other projects, he listed Apple TV+ anthology Little America as well as four upcoming films, two of which will be available on Netflix, including one titled The Graduates.

"But of all those projects I have worked on, there are only two projects that I am proud of – Little America and this one because they have a great story to tell.

“Yes, I have acted in other films and played characters that I am not and all that; it's OK – I get paid, I have a career.

“But something like this, this is a chance of a lifetime – I can tell my kids, 'This is what I did, this is where I came from'."

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