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As the title of this article would indicate, the recreation of the Kallang Roar as a full length motion picture was almost as tough as our local soccer heroes had it back in the 70s. The cast and director were at Amara Hotel’s function room, giving us the lowdowns on the difficulties of making the Kallang Roar and what the essence of this film about.

For the uninitiated, Kallang Roar is a trip back to the 1977 when Singapore Football scene was at it’s feverish peak. This movie follows the passion and struggles that Singapore’s national soccer coach, Uncle Choo Seng Quee (Lim Kay Siu) underwent to bring nationalistic pride and glory back to Singapore. Together with local legendry players such as Quah Kim Song (Leon Quah), Rajagopal (Bhaskar Subramanian), Samad (Melvinder Kanth), Mat Noh (played by Randall Tan) and Dollah Kassim (Anwar Hadi Bin Ramli), the 77s team packed the National Stadium to the full capacity of 70000 and created the Kallang Roar that moved a nation.

It wasn’t easy for the footballers back in '77 as they had to juggle between a 8 to 5 work, representing the country and had centralized training aka in-camp training. Much sacrifice was made and the actors of Kallang Roar went through the similar kind of torture for this film project. Filming often starts after normal working hours and would last till early morning (around 3am to 4 am). After which, it was a few hours of rest before work and the whole routine would repeat itself till the entire filming (which took weeks) was over.

That is the harsh reality of Singapore independent filming as Singapore actors had to supplement their income while chasing their dreams. But they all felt that such sacrifice was all worthwhile as it was their dream to present the struggles and triumphant of the 77’s Singapore soccer team.

Another tricky problem in recapturing those golden local soccer moments were that as most of the cast members are only casual players. In order not to let the legendry soccer heroes down, the cast went through intensive soccer training, studied the step by step game play that happened during the 77’s Malaysian cup and getting in touch with the heroes themselves.

Those actors who were unable to get in touch the characters that they were representing had two other options to study their character extensively and that’s through google and the director Chen Ding An. (Since Google didn’t pay us for advertising fees, we shall not go on about it’ greatness and focus on the director instead)

When it comes to the first time director, the cast were in unison that he done his preparation well and was able to lead like a season professional in tackling the problems that this independent film faced. Armed with his $70 worth of photocopies of the 77’s soccer newspaper cutting and other in-depth interviews / research, he is the go to man when ever they got any questions about their characters or events that had transpired.

But it wasn’t his readiness for this project that was infectious. His passion to bring that sense of national pride that existed back in the 77s was even more heartfelt. Together with Santhanaram Jayaram (who played Ganesan), , and veteran actor Lim Kay Siu to bring Uncle Choo unweaving passion for Singaporean pride onto screen. The director pointed out that even after orchestrating such an improbable feat against internal and external obstacles, any mention of Uncle Choo is sadly absent from the Singapore sport museum. He felt Uncle Choo’s passion and energy needed to told.

It was an uphill task for the director and cast but with the strong bond that was foster during the film making and the passion for Singaporean pride, they pushed on and finally, Kallang Roar is almost completed. The last and most important bit would be for our local audience to come support this film like what it was back then and perhaps you will feel that sense of pride that somehow missing with our current sports.

Trivial information

- Chen Ding An and Santhanaram Jayaram did a Kallang Roar short film to convince investors to fund for the full length feature.

- Lim Kay Siu worked with Chen Ding An and Santhanaram Jayaram after his theatrical works, from 6pm to 12am until Lim Kay Siu was so tired that he requested for a break and had to continue another day.

- The role of Quah Kim Song was the most sought after but eventually it went to his son, Leon Quah. The director also told us that Leon was able to do the diving headers that his father is famous for.

- Sadly no cameo by the actual soccer players could be included as the filming schedule was too early in the morning (3am anyone?)

"Kallang Roar" opens on 21 August 2008 and is reviewed here.

Report & Photos: Richard Lim Jr
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