THE popping sounds of firecrackers and lively beats from Chinese drums around Jalan Leong Sin Nam, Ipoh caught Ipoh folk by surprise.
It was as if Chinese New Year had arrived early when hundreds of people, clad in colourful attire, gathered at Foh San Dim Sum Restaurant.
The excitement among the crowd amped up further when famous Hong Kong filmmaker Raymond Wong Bak-Ming made his appearance.
Wong was at the restaurant on Wednesday to shoot a scene for Hello Babies, a Chinese New Year film that will be released early next year.
The film revolved around stories of couples of different ages and backgrounds, and how they dealt with issues relating to reproduction in a hilarious and heartwarming manner.
During a press conference, Wong, who was the producer and who also had a role in the film, said it was his first time shooting in Malaysia.
“The pleasant warm and sunny weather in Ipoh makes the filming process easy and enjoyable,” he said.
He added that Ipoh folk made him feel at home, as they spoke fluent Cantonese.
When asked on his opinion about Ipoh food, Wong said the locally produced bean sprouts were his favourite.
“They are tasty, plump and short, like Eric Tsang Chi-Wai,” he quipped.
Wong said he and Tsang had shot several scenes for the film at the Gaharu Tea Valley in Gopeng on Tuesday.
“I hope the film will touch the hearts of Malaysians,” he said.
Meanwhile, Datuk Bandar Datuk Roshidi Hashim, Lotus Group chief executive officer Datuk R. Doraisingam Pillai and Lotus Five Star AV (M) Sdn Bhd director M. Garuna were also present to observe the shooting of the film.
The movie, directed by Vincent Kok Tak-Chiu, has about 300 temporary actors who act as diners at the dim sum restaurant.
One of them was 29-year-old techno commercial executive Johnny Ngeow, who took a day off from work to take part in the filming project.
Ngeow, who arrived at the scene at 8am, said he was nervous and excited.
He said the entire six-hour filming process was done very professionally.
“There was a scene where a group of temporary actors walk in to the restaurant.
“We had to rehearse twice before proceeding with the actual shooting,” he said.
Insurance agent Winny Yeong, also part of the cast, said she looked forward to watching the film with her mother, who was a big fan of Wong.
“There are now more reasons for my mother to watch the film, since I also acted in it,” she said.
Yeong, 31, said her mother could not come and meet Wong personally because she had to go for a health check-up.
“She was a little disappointed.
“I have taken some pictures of Wong for her and I hope she will feel better after seeing them,” she said.
Jasmine Chew, in her 50s, said she would go to the cinema to watch the film if she had time to do so.
“I hope more international films could be shot in Ipoh so that more people will know more about the former tin-mining city,” she said.