Gift of song: Award-winning musician Rendra Zawawi reveals idea behind song for ‘M for Malaysia’ documentary (VIDEO)

Malaysian songbird Yuna with award-winning musician Rendra Zawawi. — Picture courtesy of Rendra Zawawi
Malaysian songbird Yuna with award-winning musician Rendra Zawawi. — Picture courtesy of Rendra Zawawi

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KUALA LUMPUR, August 30 — More than a year ago, the country saw sweeping change when the Barisan Nasional government was defeated by Pakatan Harapan. 

For award-winning songwriter Rendra Zawawi, however, this turning point gave him a chance now to give back to his country although he has been living abroad. 

He is the composer of a new song titled Bermula Kita, featuring Malaysian songbird Yuna and is the theme song for the documentary feature film M for Malaysia.

The documentary captures the historic moments of last year’s election that changed the country’s political landscape.

The song, which was done in collaboration with the Malaysian Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, has a soothing tune and tells a tale about a “new beginning”.

Speaking about Bermula Kita, which means “we begin”, Rendra said he wanted to come up with something that was relatable to all Malaysians, regardless of their race, background and affiliation.

“Therefore, it needed to be something that could relate to our feelings at that time,” he said referring to the moments of the general election in 2018 which saw Pakatan Harapan defeat Barisan Nasional.

“I think when new Malaysia was born last year, everybody was feeling a sense of ‘newness’, and that’s what the song is all about.”



Rendra, who is also the composer for the score of the feature documentary, highlighted that the song’s lyrics are metaphorical, symbolising new beginnings, analogy and a melody that goes hand in hand with the song.

The Golden Horse award-winner songwriter said he felt overwhelmed when he was asked to be part of the M for Malaysia team, although he has been living abroad for the past eight years.  

“All this while I was observing Malaysia from afar and any contribution to the country was done remotely.

“But when this opportunity landed in my lap, I thought it would be a great way to give back to the country through my music.”

Rendra also admitted that he was touched by the documentary when he first watched the raw version.

“The story, picture editing, and footage was really inspiring, showcasing Malaysians from all walks of life.

“It was an interesting experience to provide the musical narrative and coming up with musical cues for the Election Day and other specific events in the film,” he added.

Rendra also thanked the documentary makers for giving him the opportunity “to work with someone as magnificent as Yuna”.

“Yuna is a person who knows what she wants.

“She is very focussed, passionate and gets things done.”

Among the team members who worked with Rendra for the song were Los Angeles-based Malaysian mix engineer Alvin Wee as well as orchestrator Danita Ng-Poss.

With many years of experience under his belt, Wee has mixed scores for many films including Kung Fu Panda 3, Final Fantasy and Dope, while Ng-Poss, along with her husband Jason Poss, has orchestrated for major international awards including Academy Awards and Emmy Awards.

M for Malaysia will premiere exclusively from September 12 to 15 at selected cinemas across Malaysia.

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