ENVELOPED in its captivating aura and stirring my emotions to their core, that is how I would succinctly describe my encounter with the film Anwar: The Untold Story.
As an avid connoisseur of cinema, I possess an ardent fascination for movies that delve deep, carrying profound societal messages.
Consequently, art films appeal far more to me than their commercial counterparts.
First and foremost, I must extend my heartfelt appreciation to the remarkable team behind the casting process.
They flawlessly matched many characters, allowing us to instantly recognise their real-life counterparts once they graced the screen.
While the movie may have appeared to unfold at a leisurely pace, the deliberate lulls were indispensable in portraying and unravelling the excruciating anguish and desolation endured by the victims — namely Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and their children.
Azizah, the character on the silver screen, effortlessly captivated the viewers with her tearful eyes that eloquently spoke volumes.
Although seemingly young, her motherly instinct came out quite naturally and as a leader’s wife, she did justice to Azizah, displaying her pain of separation in profound and potent silence.
Farid Kamil Zahari’s performance is widely regarded as remarkable and transformative. His portrayal of Anwar is set to earn him much acclaim as he played the character to perfection.
Many viewers and critics have praised Farid for his ability to capture the essence of Anwar’s character where he skilfully conveys Anwar’s peaceful demeanour, profound wisdom and unwavering commitment to battling corruption.
The actor’s performance can be lauded for its attention to detail, capturing Anwar’s physical mannerisms, voice and the way he carried himself.
In the prison scene, Farid diminishes the physical torment and mental anguish, rendering them insignificant in the face of his indomitable inner strength and unwavering faith in God and goodness.
Farid’s portrayal successfully humanises Anwar, allowing audiences to connect with his personal struggles, inner conflicts and the sacrifices he made in the pursuit of his principles.
He effectively communicates Anwar’s inspiring ideals, moral strength and ability to motivate and mobilise the masses through non-violent approaches.
Unlike the flamboyant theatrics commonly found in Indian cinema which I am used to, this film did not rely heavily on grand spectacles.
Instead, it skillfully employed silence as a potent language to convey what we needed to comprehend and internalise.
During the time of the events leading up to Anwar’s arrest, I found myself working as a journalist.
During those days, alternative news media outlets were scarce and as a reporter for a mainstream newspaper, there was silent pressure to align our thoughts with the government of the day.
The biopic unfolds and tells a totally different narrative and as a lay member of the public, it was both intriguing and unbelievably scandalous.
The masquerades that have been happening within the government and its business entities are shameful.
Worse still, except for the privileged few, nobody knows where truth and fiction lie.
Anwar: The Untold Story, nevertheless emerges as a thought-provoking masterpiece that I wholeheartedly recommend to both supporters and detractors of PMX.
It impels us to transcend the superficiality of life, guiding us into a realm where we are warned and reminded of the impermanence in life.
Some may interpret it as an invitation to seize every opportunity for personal gain while in power, basking in the sun’s radiance.
Conversely, the other side of the coin reveals that no amount of wealth can shield one from the consequences of their karmic obligations when the time comes to fulfil them.
The current prime minister was resurrected from prison while a former prime minister languishes in prison.
Anwar: The Untold Story is directed by Indonesian director Viva Westi and stars popular local actor Farid Kamil Zahari in the titular role, with Indonesian actress Acha Septriasa in the role of Azizah, with Piet Pagau and Dewi Irawan as Anwar’s parents.
Political cartoonist and activist, Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, more popularly known as Zunar, is one of the producers behind this film.
A leader with a blackeye who knew how to turn every failure into opportunity is how the movie leaves us, with hopes for a better Malaysia.