My film isn’t racist, says Mat Kilau director amid backlash over its depiction of Sikhs

My film isn’t racist, says Mat Kilau director amid backlash over its depiction of Sikhs

Syamsul Yusof says he made movie to ‘uplift religion, race’

KUALA LUMPUR – Amid criticism over the portrayal of violent turbaned Sikhs in Mat Kilau, its director Syamsul Yusof has refuted claims that the recently released blockbuster Malay film contains elements of racism.

In an interview by Harian Metro, Syamsul was quoted as saying that it is “more of an ideology” and he directed the movie in a way to “uplift religion and race”.

“If you think there’s a problem, I don’t know.

“Some have commented that it (Mat Kilau) is an ancient version of KL Gangster. It is not about KL Gangster, but it’s a ‘Syamsul Yusof touch’.

“If you study my films, you can see that my films are fast-paced and I don’t like to waste time.”

Mat Kilau follows the story of the famed Malay warrior who stood up against British colonists. It stars Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan, Datuk Rahim Razali, Datuk Adi Putra, Namron, and Fattah Amin, among others.

The highest grossing Malaysian film of all time has earned criticism over its portrayal of violent turbaned Sikhs in the tale’s retelling.

Civil society group United Sikhs Malaysia said the Sikhs, who were British soldiers in the movie, were shown “to have laid hands on old folk, children, and helpless citizens”.

“While the controversial scenes in the movie were fictional, they are distasteful and hurt the sentiments of Sikhs,” it said in a statement last night.

“The Sikh code of practice prohibits laying hands on old folk, children, women, and helpless citizens even during war.”

Admitting that criticism puts immense pressure on filmmakers, including himself, Syamsul said he is open to them.

However, he said those in the industry must step forward to view condemnation from a wider perspective as critics will do what they do best – continue to criticise according to their liking.

“I made Mat Kilau in my own way and style, but some critics disagree.

“Some say my movie does not have a plot. Maybe they don’t like the way I direct, but if they say my film has no plot to it, I don’t know.

“Is majority of my audience stupid? If there is no storytelling, would the sultan praise my film?” he asked.

Previously, Selangor ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah urged the Malay community and political leaders to watch Mat Kilau to see how disunity and infighting can break a nation.

Sultan Sharafuddin said he watched the film, which showed how factions among the Malays could result in external influences easily controlling the people.

source – The Vibes

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