Set in Malaysia, director Kabir Bhatia brings to life a drama series about the undead.
MALAYSIAN fans of the highly-successful American drama series The Walking Dead, may have had – at one time or another – fantasised its cast of rabid, flesh-eating zombies shuffling along the streets of Kuala Lumpur.
Well, local zombie fans, you can thank director Kabir Bhatia.
The 13-episode TV3 drama series Antidot, follows the journey of four characters – an ex-convict (Remy Ishak), a housewife (Nabila Huda), a van driver (Kamal Adli) and a virologist (Nad Zainal) – as they race against time to find a cure after a mysterious virus spreads throughout the Klang Valley.
Kabir, who is best known for his work in the film and television series Nur Kasih, explains how the series got its start: “About two years ago, TV3 started looking at Filmscape (Kabir’s production company) as a company that provides out-of-the-box content. Besides love stories, they were looking at different content to reach out to different types of viewers. We threw some ideas around and came up with this.”
Filming took place in Taiping, Carey Island, Gombak, Ulu Langat, Sungai Buloh, among others. A few scenes from the series were even shot in rather elaborate venues including a hangar, a private plane and a ship.
Like The Walking Dead, Antidot is very much a character exploration.
“The ex-convict, for instance, is a bitter person who comes from a broken family and the show traces his journey, from being a dark human being to a compassionate one. And then you have a mother who lost her child during the outbreak and you’ll see her transformation from a typical housewife to a strong woman on a mission,” shares Kabir.
“There’s also a bus driver with a violent past who is uncomfortable with killing those who are infected with the virus for fear that he would return to his old ways.”
These characters collide at some point in the show and an uneasy alliance is formed.
But unlike The Walking Dead which is known for its intensely violent content, the local series – for the most part – does away with those depictions. Asked, if it will still appeal to viewers, the director responds: “I don’t show blood and gore. It’s suggested, you don’t show a knife going into someone’s body, you suggest it’s gone into someone’s body. But there is still violence, that’s why it’s a 10pm show.”
Still, the most important question in mind especially for fans of the genre is just what sort of zombies are we talking about here?
“It spreads through physical transmission, whether through scratching, biting or one’s saliva. Those contracted with the virus will experience a fever before starting to hallucinate. Here, their greatest fears feel very real. And finally, convulsions happen and they become mindless, violent and blood-thirsty,” explains Kabir who likens some of the symptoms of the mysterious virus to those infected with rabies.
He adds: “They’re afraid of water. Hence, water becomes something the survivors can use as a weapon. If it rains, they stay indoors. That’s how the survivors can move from one place or another.”
■ Antidot airs every Tuesday at 10pm on TV3.