KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 — The “glamour” with which Mona Fandey carried herself during her murder trial inspired film director Dain Said to develop a character based on his own perception of her.
The director of local movie Dukun believed she must have had access to makeup in order to appear as she had.
“The image and character of her that we came up with was based on the news reports and coverage that we saw and read from that time.
“She showed up looking all pretty and glamorous. The look must have been done while she was still inside prison; impossible if she had done it outside,” he told ProjekMMO today, Malay Mail’s sister publication.
Dain mentioned these while speaking about the hundreds of tales and stories surrounding Mona, and the ones adapted for his directorial debut Dukun.
Dukun took in RM6.2 million from the box offices nationwide, just four days into its release.
The movie is inspired by the life of Mona, a woman whose search for fame led her to become a bomoh (Malay shaman) who later murdered a prominent politician and sentenced to death.
Mona had tried to kickstart a career as a singer in the late 1980s, but quickly fell out of favour in the industry with her plain appearance and ordinary singing.
Her final attempt at glamour arguably came in the clothes and crimson she had worn as she sat remorseless in court during the high-profile murder trial.
Dain explained the portrayal by Datin Paduka Umie Aida was not solely based on tales of Mona.
“It is hard for me draw a line of exactly how many per cent (is based on Mona) because when we were drawing out the script based on facts we also had to see which parts matched.
“We did our homework, I would be lying if I said we did not do research on Mona’s story. There were also other people from my hometown whom I also based by research on,” he said.
The Bunohan director said besides stories of Mona, local mystical tales and stories were also added and referenced in the script.
He explained these stories were then incorporated into Dukun to make it more relatable to the local audiences.
“I would describe these local tales to the scriptwriters and they would then include it in the story. These additions are at the creative discretions of the writers, where I then add my direction to the scene.
“Even though we strayed a little from the original story, we did out research, and they (the additions) are not about Mona, but rather the dark arts and black magic. It is an expression of the Malay culture.
“Once I gathered all the material and tales, I only included the ones I felt the Malay community would know about and could relate to, so the story and artistic direction would feel genuine,” he said.
Dain said even though he never met Mona, information he obtained through research from parties that handled her murder case provided a sufficient reference point.
After 12 long years, Dain said there was immense satisfaction in seeing all the actors’ efforts pay off.
“I am happy for my actors, they were fantastic. Their performance was at 150 per cent. So this makes me very happy for them.
“This story tells the tale our life’s journey and will always stay relevant. No matter what path you end up taking,” he said.
Commenting on controversies surrounding the movie’s release after the long delay, Dain said he would leave those decisions up to the publishers.
“As a film director and producer, I do not get involved in those issues because they would have their own sentiments and agendas to follow, which then again could be true or false.
“Scriptwriters or film producers, they know how to work creatively and are familiar with the ropes of it. The monetary gains and collections, I leave it up to the publishers.
“I am very grateful, if there were no willing publishers this movie would have never been released.
“It has also come to my knowledge that the publishers were constantly knocking on doors and working hard to get the film released,” he said.