By Darren Grant
Malaysian censorship rules demanded the title change to the controversial new movie, now released as “Dalam Botol.” But it hasn’t affected the initial movie receipts. The film's producer Raja Azmi Raja Sulaiman said it had made slightly more than RM 1 million (US$330,500) in the five days since it opened in cinemas on March 24. This surpasses its production and marketing costs of RM970,000.
The Malay-language film, apparently based on a true story, tells the story of two men, one of whom undergoes a sex change to become a woman to please his lover. Sadly, ‘she’ later regrets her decision when he falls in love with a woman.
Originally titled Anu Dalam Botol (Penis In A Bottle), producers had to drop the offending word after the censorship board objected. Malaysia eased film censorship guidelines a year ago to allow the depiction of gay characters. But they have either to repent or “become” straight. Sodomy is criminalised under section 377 of the Malaysian Penal Code and is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and caning. Sexual relations between men are still illegal under section 377A that provides for up to two years jail.
Producer Raja Azmi has revealed that the movie is based on a true story of a friend who regretted having a sex-change procedure. She said: "If my film has a message, it's please don’t change for love. My friend has suffered so much, and I don't want other people to suffer like him."
The film, in some quarters welcomed as Malaysia’s Brokeback Mountain, has received criticism from the LGBT community.
Prominent commentator Pang Khee Teik wrote in a review on Loyarburok.com. “Is the protagonist gay or transsexual? I can’t tell, and it seems, neither could he/she. Sexual orientation and gender identity are different things and if anything this film reflects accurately Malaysians’ general ignorance about this. If a man falls in love with a man, it doesn’t mean he wants to be a woman — get used to it. And if she does want to be a woman, it doesn’t automatically mean she likes men — get used to it.”
Gay filmgoers around the world will not be surprised that breakthrough gay movies in traditional cultures tend to come with less than happy endings. Been there. Seen it. But, sometimes, we just have to be patient!
Join our mailing list
- October 29th, 2015
- September 29th, 2014
- December 6th, 2013
- October 31st, 2013
- October 12th, 2013
- September 16th, 2013