PETALING JAYA, Sept 10 — “We’re always being told to love each other, but not to fall in love with each other.”
This is the narrative that singer NJWA, formerly known as Najwa Mahiaddin, hopes to change with the release of her music video for Take Love Back.
Directed by Nadirah Zakariya, the clip features actors who tell the story of an interracial romance from courtship to conflict, and is a poignant reflection on the harsh reality many interracial couples face in Malaysia.
It features cameos from Sharifah Amani and Ng Choo Seong, famous for their roles in Yasmin Ahmad’s Sepet which follows the love that forms between a Chinese boy and a Malay girl.
In an interview with Malay Mail, NJWA talked about the need for society to discard the prejudice towards interracial love that continues to remain prevalent in Malaysia.
“The problem is not usually within people in the actual relationship but it’s almost always coming from the people around them.
“Sometimes it’s family and they don’t see how someone from a different race could be in a relationship with their son or daughter.
“We’re still at that stage where we’re just tolerating each other when we should be embracing each other,” she said.
Personal experiences of being in interracial and interfaith relationships helped inform the alternative R&B star’s creative direction in making the song and its music video.
Although she is now happily married to music director Idris Koh, NJWA confessed that she did experience heartbreak in a past relationship where differences of race and religion ultimately led to a break-up.
“The people around us made it hard to stay together and eventually we just realised that things weren’t going to work out between us.
“I think society is slowly becoming more accepting towards interracial relationships but we’re not quite there yet.
“The song came from a personal place and initially I was just using it to vent. Once I got that out of the way, I knew it wasn’t just about my story alone.”
With the music video dropping right in between Merdeka and Malaysia Day, NJWA hopes that her fellow countrymen can embody the true spirit of racial unity by seeing interracial relationships for what they are: A form of love that knows no colour.
“I hope the music video encourages people to start discussing these things and not judge others for falling in love with someone of a different race.
“The music video is bittersweet because it leaves you with a lot of questions as to where we are as a multicultural nation.
“Are we accepting each other and being okay with interracial relationships or are we doing the opposite?”