In Malay, Tamil, Chinese and English with English Subtitles
Genre: Drama Director: Marc X. Grigaroff Cast: Mastura Ahmad, Aisyah Masgot, Zaidi Irbrahim,
Ravi Kumar, Kelly Lim LT, Chaar Chun Kong, Zarina Safuan RunTime: 1 hr 22 mins Released By: GV Rating: NC-16 (Some Coarse Language) Official Website: http://www.salawatimovie.com/
Opening Day: 9 October 2008
"Salawati" is the story of a 12-year-old Singaporean-Malay
girl who has just witnessed the death of her older brother,
Shahim. The tragedy occurs when the boy goes for a swim and
quickly gets into trouble. Wati, who cannot swim, begs a man
to help her, but he ignores her pleas and Shahim drowns.
parents are devastated. Her mother tries to hold the family
together, while her father struggles to control his misdirected
anger. The role of Islam in the lives of Wati and her family
is revealed, for it is impossible to separate their beliefs
from their lifestyle and the manner in which they deal with
story is intertwined with two others: an Indian courier with
a penchant for drinking and fighting; and a Chinese man who
is consumed by career goals. It becomes increasingly apparent
that each of these men played some role in the death of her
brother, and as Wati begins to follow them, the mystery deepens.
a haunting sequence illuminates the events surrounding her
brother’s death, and Wati is left with a choice that
will change the lives of everyone.
explores the fragile nature of human relationships, particularly
in the face of tragedy. It calls into question our notions
of morality, mercy, revenge and ultimately, forgiveness.
When Singapore cinemas was in its heyday back in the fifties
and sixties, the studios over at Jalan Ampas churned out one
Malay movie after another. The golden age of cinemas passed
us by and for many years, there was dearth of locally-produced
movies. The past ten years has seen resurgence in the number
of Singaporean moves at our local cineplexes but there have
not really been any that are predominantly in the Malay language.
Although Salawati is in all four of our country’s languages,
it has arrived at a good time where local Malay film-makers
have bandied together to form the Singapore Malay Film Society
to encourage and support the production of Singapore Malay
and directed by Marc X Grigaroff, Salawati is the titular
character, a twelve-year old Malay girl who witnesses her
brother’s drowning. Her brother’s drowning is
tied to two individuals who had a direct impact to the incident,
an Indian dispatch rider and a Chinese insurance agent. She
tried to get help from one of them and while one refused to
help, the other did but it was too late to save her brother.
For the bulk of the movie, Salawati follows both characters
around, often not saying anything in the process but hoping
for something to come out of it. It is only at the end that
we discover who did what.
the scenes are captured brilliantly on the silver screen,
much cannot be said of the story. While the acting is commendable,
it appears the actors are only making do with the material
they have. There is a lack of depth in exploring the straining
of the relationship between Salawati and her father and also
Salawati and the two men linked to her brother’s drowning.
The movie moves at a very slow pacing despite its 82 minute
runtime while also performing a touch and go on the script
as a whole. It plods along clumsily and the editing is somewhat
sloppy all around.
said, the young Aisyah Masgot does a passable job playing
Salawati but it is the likes of Suria veterans like Mastura
Ahmad and Zaidi Ibrahim who play her parents who come up tops
on the acting charts. Mastura is ever brilliant as the mother
torn between grieving for her only son and to lessen the strain
between Salawati and her father while Zaidi is to be commended
for his portrayal of Salawati’s father. He also has
a heart-wrenching monologue where he talks about losing his
son. The rest of the supporting cast performs generally well
are just too many things that Grigaroff wants to cram into
the movie and this causes the bulk of the characters to be
underdeveloped. A dreary affair, what is supposed to be a
mystery ends up in a confusing affair instead. Just like how
the movie appears to have pedestrian characters, Salawati
is a forgettable affair.
(Salawati is a dreary and superficial affair, one that is