With a nationwide movement control order in effect, it’s a pity that most of us aren’t able to check out our local neighbourhoods. Nevertheless, many Malaysians have pivoted their focus to new hobbies and online entertainment. Streaming services are all the rage during the pandemic and it’s becoming a staple in many Malaysian households.
The Malaysian Reserve reports, in accordance with data by Nielsen, that there are 1 million new over-the-top (OTT) or streaming subscribers in Malaysia as of 2020. In an article from The Edge Markets, Statista estimates that there are more than 336,100 active Netflix subscribers. Although there isn’t any information available on the Disney+ Hotstar Malaysian audience as of yet, seeing that the streaming giant dominates the subscription based off our neighbours Indonesia (2.5 million subscribers), it can be said that Disney is surely giving Netflix a good run for their money.
What’s great about these streaming platforms entering the Malaysian market is that there’s a space for Malaysian films and shows to showcase their work, and here are our picks to help you tide out the EMCO.
The legend of Puteri Gunung Ledang has been brought to life in this award-winning epic fantasy period drama with a slight twist. For the uninitiated, Puteri Gunung Ledang was a beautiful princess who turned down Sultan Mahmud Shah’s (a ruler during the Malaccan sultanate) advances by asking for 7 impossible requests. However, there was no backstory to her reasons, and this film paints the perfect picture for that. The film tells the forbidden love between the Princess and famed warrior Hang Tuah.
This Taiwanese-Malaysian series is based on a novel written by Malaysian author Yangsze Choo of the same title. The tale follows a Malaysian Chinese woman, Li Lan, in 1890s Malacca who accepts a marriage proposal from the wealthy Lim family. However, the catch is that she’s destined to be the ghost bride of their deceased son, Kuang Tian. As she realizes that she becomes drawn to the new heir of the Lim family, and she attempts to escape her demise. Instead, she becomes engaged with otherworldly affairs and unintentionally uncovers a sinister murder plot.
Nur is a drama series that had previously aired on TV3 and has garnered quite a reputation. The series follows Adam, the eldest son of a celebrity ustaz who has a laid-out plan to take over his father’s status. He meets Nur, a daughter of a prostitute, and their relationship ignites a burning question - will one’s upbringing decide the path of destiny?
Jagat represented Malaysia in the 2017 ASEAN Film Festival and is a coming-of-age film that underlines the harsh circumstances of the Malaysian Indian community who were forgotten by estate owners. The film features young Appoy and his strained relationships with his father, an uncle who is a former drug addict, and a local gangster. As Appoy faces his father’s increasingly desperate and abusive measures to set him on the correct path, he slowly becomes drawn to the criminal lifestyle that his uncle lives.
Guang is a heartfelt film by Quek Shio Chuan, the director behind the viral TNB, Lazada and stop-motion cycling videos. The feature film focuses on Wen Guang, a musically-gifted man, born with autism who struggles to find a job and his relationship with his younger brother. With themes of family, acceptance and mental health awareness, it’s a heartwarming piece that would tug on your heartstrings.
Wifi Sebelah Rumah is a tongue-in-cheek rom-com featuring local actors Zul Affrin (Ghaz) and Ruhainies Farehah (Mira). Ghaz is a frequent visitor to Cafe Q and visits the establishment with the sole intent to use the cafe’s wifi. One day, he bumps into his neighbour Mira while in the cafe. Mira shares her home’s wifi password with him, and their love starts to blossom as they become co-workers. However, Ghaz’s attempts to woo Mira comes to a halt when he finds out that his friend Fizi (played by Keith Foo) is Mira’s father’s choice to be her husband. Will he continue to pursue their relationship, or remain just as friends?
Talentime is the late director Yasmin Ahmad’s final theatrical work before her unfortunate passing. With Yasmin’s ability for her shows to resonate with Malaysians, it’s no wonder that her films are applauded by many. Talentime follows the story of a music teacher who organises an inter-school talent competition. During the talent search, the film’s characters get caught up in a pit of emotions ranging from ambition, comical, jealousy, romance, and heartbreak that lead towards the final show of emotionally driven and outstanding performances.
Roh is a must-watch indie arthouse horror flick by local production house, Kuman Pictures. Set in a certain time of the past, a mother and her two children receive an unnerving visit from a strange girl who gives an ominous premonition of the family’s demise. If you enjoy slow-burn horror films, this one’s for you.
With this comprehensive list of proudly Malaysian-made films and shows, take some time off and plan your weekend activities around your binge-watch sessions. You deserve it!