Osman Ali strikes gold with the wonderfully and deceptively light romantic comedy Sejoli.
When the last film you’ve made is the box-office behemoth that was Ombak Rindu and you can also count films like Cun and Jiwa Taiko as part of your filmography, it’s easy to forget that director Osman Ali was once a serious artist making critically acclaimed films like Bukak Api and Malaikat Di Jendela.
Making a romantic comedy as his next film is probably not going to change that misperception, at least not in passing. But a deeper look into this sweet, touching and quite hilarious Valentine release will reveal an impressive level of craftsmanship from not only Osman as the writer-director, but also from lead actors Bront Palarae, Maya Karin, Remy Ishak, Izara Aishah and supporting players Dira Abu Zahar and Azad Jasmin.
We’ve all seen our fair share of romantic comedies that by now we would be familiar with the mechanics of the (predictable) plot. Osman’s latest film Sejoli, unsurprisingly, doesn’t offer much in terms of its plot which tells the tale of a boy (Joe, played by Bront) and a girl (Gina, played by Maya) who team up to sabotage the upcoming marriage of their exes Nita (Izara Aishah) and Hardy (Remy Ishak), who happened to dump them for each other.
What the film lacks in surprises, though, it more than makes up for in terms of effortless romantic chemistry between the actors, sparkling comic dialogue and some truly bittersweet home truths about friends, lovers and ex-lovers.
At the film’s gala premiere last week, Osman talked about how he managed to achieve that sort of chemistry needed for a romantic comedy.
“We rehearsed for about two weeks prior to filming, but since Bront, Maya and Remy all already knew each other and are quite close friends in real life, we just mostly worked on trying to nail that romantic chemistry between them so that it’ll turn out believable on screen,” explained Osman.
The director added that the difficulty he faced was ensuring the chemistry between Izara, the youngest member in the main cast, and the male leads to be believable.
“We needed to make the chemistry between her and Bront and Remy actually romantic rather than the kind of brother and sister relationship that they have in real life.”
Reacting to that, Izara said that she was simply happy to be involved in the film since she’s a big fan of Osman.
Also, as a newcomer in the local film scene, Izara is thrilled for the chance to act alongside established names like Remy, Bront and Maya.
Apart from the strong main cast, Osman also hired Dira Abu Zahar and Azad Jasmin (giving another eye-catching performance after his breakout turn in Kolumpo) in supporting roles. These two actors add to the comic quotient.
Isn’t six strong characters in a romantic comedy one too many?
Osman said that during the writing (and even rehearsal) stage, he would make it a point to not let any single character outshine another. If one actually did, then he’d rewrite the script; his intention was to make these characters as different and distinguishable from each other as possible to give the film a bit more colour.
What about the film’s title then, Sejoli, which coincidentally shares the same title as an old P. Ramlee film? Osman explained that his film is definitely not a tribute or remake of that film, but said that he chose to use the word ‘Sejoli’ (which roughly means ‘perfect match’) as the film’s title because it carries two meanings – not only are Joe and Gina the perfect match to sabotage Nita and Hardy’s wedding, but they’re also perfect for each other.
> Sejoli opens in cinemas nationwide tomorrow.