Reaching Malays through television

(From far left) Singer-actor Taufik Batisah, film-maker Raihan Halim and actor Hisyam Hamid at the press conference for Malay telemovie Gunting yesterday.
(From far left) Singer-actor Taufik Batisah, film-maker Raihan Halim and actor Hisyam Hamid at the press conference for Malay telemovie Gunting yesterday.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

The Government is reaching out to Malays on its policies and initiatives through Gunting, a stylish new Malay telemovie starring singer Taufik Batisah.

The story centres on the estranged relationship between a father and a son, and worked into it are references to government initiatives such as SkillsFuture Credit, SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) Go Digital, and Professional Conversion Programmes.

The telemovie premieres on Suria channel on Hari Raya Puasa on Sunday evening. It is a collaboration between the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), production house Papahan Films and creative agency Tribal Worldwide.

MCI is using, for example, Hokkien variety show Happy Can Already! to communicate information in dialect.

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"This is the first time we are working with industry talents like (film-maker) Raihan Halim, (singeractor) Taufik Batisah and (actor) Hisyam Hamid to produce a Malay telemovie that not only entertains, but also shows that businesses and workers can tap on government schemes to thrive in the digital economy," says Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in- charge of Muslim Affairs.

In Gunting (which translates to scissors or cut in Malay), Taufik plays a son who becomes a hairstylist in the United States against the wishes of his father, a barber.

He returns home to care for his father when the latter's diabetes worsens and he has to close his barber shop. Taufik then decides to set up a modern gentleman's barber shop with his childhood friend, played by Hisyam.

The film stars other familiar names including Adlina Adil, J. A. Halim and Rahimah Rahim.

Raihan says he tried to weave in information on the government schemes as "smoothly" as he could.

As for the setting, he adds: "I have always been going to those pakcik (uncle) barbers in the neighbourhood. It is ingrained in our DNA."

The shop featured in the telemovie is a modified hipster version to appeal to the younger demographic.

"It fits with the father-son storyline too," says Raihan, who considers this show a companion piece to his work Banting (2014), a dramedy that explores the relationship between a mother and daughter.

•Gunting premieres on Suria on Sunday at 8.30pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2017, with the headline 'Reaching Malays through television'. Print Edition | Subscribe