NO way! That was what Nabila Huda said to director Melissa Saila when she was first invited to audition for the role of Saloma.
“I told her, ‘No. I can’t sing or dance. She’s a legend, and if I get it wrong, people will criticise me,’ ” she recalled.
Melissa, who is the legendary singer’s niece, is helming the upcoming two-part biopic, Saloma: Mencuri Guruh and Saloma: Pandang Kaseh. “I saw you as Saloma,” Melissa had said to Nabila, who had been one of only two actresses considered for the part.
Nabila eventually agreed to the audition, though she was still apprehensive about the whole thing. “Even after the audition, my heart was beating so quickly. I prayed every day that I wouldn’t get the role. Two weeks passed, and there was no news, so I thought, ‘yes, I didn’t get it!’,” she shared candidly.
After her prayers went unanswered (which wasn’t exactly a bad thing) and she got the role, Nabila spent a month getting ready for it, a process that involved reading up on biographies of Saloma, watching documentaries and videos of her on YouTube, studying and mimicking her gait and movement, and speaking to friends and family members that were closest to her.
Asked about the early reaction of fans who deemed her costumes too sexy after the actress uploaded photos of herself clad in the Saloma get-up, she said, “I just played my part. The costume follows the real Saloma’s costume. If we changed that, it would have become something different. It’s not that we are trying to portray a sexy image.”
She shared that Siti Haslinda Abdul Hamid, who is also Saloma’s niece and used to live with the late singer, helped with the wardrobe on set.
In fact, the film’s opening scene sees the actress donning a piece worn by Saloma herself, she added. Nabila’s hairstylist also revealed they spent two full hours each day on her hair alone as it was done exactly the same way it was back then but with modern equipment.
The TV movie was shot in Penang and Tanjung Karang, Selangor, for a month last year.
“The miming part was most challenging for me (singer Liza Hanim provided the vocals for the singing portion of the film), as I had to remember the lyrics of her songs, be aware of my body movements, and maintain the right mood and feel all at the same time,” she said of her most challenging experience on set.
She continued: “As it’s based on a true story, when I’m on set, I can feel it and imagine the situation especially during the heavy scenes. The scene where P. Ramlee dies ... I can’t really explain that moment, but it’s in my heart.
“I’m honoured to play Saloma. This is the biggest thing that has happened in my life.”
> Saloma: Mencuri Guruh and Saloma: Pandang Kaseh are available for purchase on Astro First (Astro Ch 480) beginning Aug 28.
The makings of a star
A legend’s life