Sat, May 30, 2009
The New Straits Times
From the pages to the silver screen

By Meor Shariman

MANY Hollywood blockbusters have been adapted from best-selling novels.

Among the recent blockbusters are Harry Potter, Twilight, The Chronicles of Narnia, Inkheart, Slumdog Millionaire and Angels & Demons.

Adapting best-selling books for the silver screen also proved successful in Indonesia with Ayat-Ayat Cinta and Laskar Pelangi.

However, this is not the case in Malaysia.

Three best-selling Malaysian novels flopped at the box office -- Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan in 1983, Mira Edora in 1990 and Pelangi Pagi in 2004. Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan, based on a novel by Datuk Shahnon Ahmad, was directed by Jamil Sulung.
Starring Sarimah and Melissa Saila, the story revolves around a widow (Sarimah) who has to take care of her seven children after the death of her husband.

The gritty story was considered too "heavy" by the audience despite the memorable acting by the legendary Sarimah.

Mira Edora, based on a novel by Khadijah Hashim, was directed by Zulkifli M. Osman and starred Julia Rais and Noor Kumalasari.

The story is about Mira Edora who falls in love with an older man who could have been her father. This heavy drama did not make any headway in the movie world.

In 2004, Rosnani Jamil adapted Khadijah Hashim's Pelangi Pagi into a film titled Bicara Hati which introduced Nurfazura as an actress. The film tells the story of a girl who falls in love with her teacher.

Bicara Hati failed at the box office.

Astro Shaw is now adapting Malaysia's most-read teen romance, Lagenda Budak Setan, into a movie.

Written by Ahadiat Akashah, the story revolves around the love life of a college boy. The novel was released in 1989 and sold more than 100,000 copies.

The film stars Farid Kamil and Lisa Surihani, and is directed by Sharad Sharan.

Another best-selling novel, Jibam written by Ujang, was adapted into a movie last year.

Unfortunately, the project, utilising Finas' feature film loan, is in limbo due to financial problem.

Like Lagenda Budak Setan, Jibam sold more than 100,000 copies.

KRU Films is in the midst of adapting Malay classic Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa. The film is expected to be Malaysia's answer to The Chronicle of Narnia.

There is no dearth of Malaysian best-selling novels that can be turned into successful movies. Producers can just walk into the nearest bookstore and they will be able to find what they want.

If a producer is thinking of a horror flick, why not Tamar Jalis's Bercakap Dengan Jin?

Bercakap Dengan Jin is one of those horror novels that keep readers reading at night with the lights on.

If a producer is looking for an Islamic themed love story similar to Indonesia's Ayat-Ayat Cinta, Zaid Akhtar's Salju Sakinah could be it.

And one of the most beautiful love stories ever written is Bukan Puteri Lindungan Bulan by Liana Alfiera Malik.

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