Bernard Chauly tackles the screen adaptation of a book with his latest

Waiting game: Nur Fazura had to be convinced to take on the role of Ifti Liyana in Manisnya Cinta Di Cappadocia.

Waiting game: Nur Fazura had to be convinced to take on the role of Ifti Liyana in Manisnya Cinta Di Cappadocia.

Manisnya Cinta Di Cappadocia goes deep into the Turkish city to look at true love.

After giving us hit movies such as Gol And Gincu (2005), Pisau Cukur (2009) and Istanbul Aku Datang! (2012), director Bernard Chauly offers Manisnya Cinta Di Cappadocia as his latest feature.

Boasting who’s who in the local movie scene – including Nur Fazura, Shaheizy Sam, Lisa Surihani, Faizal Hussein, Zaibo, Fauziah Ahmad Daud, Josiah Hogan and Susan Lankaster – the movie, jointly produced by Global Station, Astro Shaw and Red Films, opens nationwide today.

“It all started in 2012 when I was given five popular (Malay) romance novels by Global Station (famous for producing highly-rated drama series on TV),” recalled the UK-based director who came down recently to promote the film.

His other directorial credits include Apa Dosaku: The Sybil Kathigasu Story (TV mini-series, 2010), Goodbye Boys (2006), Semangat Insan Masters Of Tradition (documentary, 2000), Adam And Steve (short movie, 2000) and Saying Goodbye (experimental short movie, 1997).

“But I have to say I like this novel the most. It’s the best of the lot! There’s enough in it to really make me want to do it. For instance the main character Ifti Liyana (portrayed by Fazura), she’s strong-willed and opinionated, but also sopan (polite).

“Her dilemma as one of the three girls in the family felt a bit like Jane Austen’s classic, with some good drama masyarakat (people) as well,” said Chauly, adding that the filming took a month to complete between April and May last year, in Turkey and Kuala Lumpur.

Manisnya Cinta Di Cappadocia revolves around beautiful and charismatic Ifti Liyana who is in search of the meaning and value of true love. She is torn in between following the wishes of her family to be with a man she despises and to follow her heart to be with the man she desires and longs to be with. It is this turmoil that takes her far away from home ... to Cappadocia, Turkey, to be exact.

It is a location which Chauly went to check out by hiring a car and driving around Cappadocia and Annatolia, Turkey, for a week. He covered 2,400km on this solo tour, just so he could familiarise himself with the locations and form impressions about them without being influenced by a tour guide.

Bernard Chauly (centre) discussing a scene with actors Shaheizy Sam (left) and Nur Fazura (right).
Bernard Chauly (centre) discussing a scene with actors Shaheizy Sam (left) and Nur Fazura (right).

Needless to say, there were challenges – he almost got stuck on a snowy mountain pass, almost ran out of petrol and had to repair a flat tyre on the Anatolian steppes.

“This is my first movie based on a book adaptation,” said Chauly, 41. But not last his last, apparently; he is currently working on a feature film based on the English language novel Five Star Billionaire, which was written by novelist and Costa Book Award (formerly Whitbread) winner Tash Aw. This movie will be predominantly in the Chinese language — Mandarin and Cantonese — with some English.

According to Chauly, he did have Fazura in mind when he read the book’s main character Ifti Liyana. However, it took a lot of convincing on his part to get Fazura to say yes.

“I remember telling her that I think things happened for a reason. We wanted her to be Dian in Istanbul Aku Datang! but due to some unforeseen circumstances, the role went to Lisa Surihani.

“In hindsight, Lisa is perfect as Dian, as Fazura is the perfect Ifti. And they play sisters, acting together for the first time here. How exciting is that?”

Chauly and screenwriter Rafidah Abdullah met up with author Anis Ayuni to share their thoughts and gain her blessings and consent. The characterisation, relationships and dynamics in the film, are translated directly from the book.

“Will the audience accept my adaptation of a popular romance ... it remains to be seen. But as a director my biggest goal is always to reach new audiences, hone new skills and enjoy the process. I’m very much into the process, not just the product.”

 Manisnya Cinta Di Cappadocia opens in cinemas nationwide today.

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