theSundaily : Talking Tortoise

By 29/03/2012English

OPENING in cinemas on March 1, romantic comedy Cinta Kura Kura centres on a talking pet tortoise named Nico, which learns that a boy named Adam has fallen in love with his owner, Nani.

Unfortunately, Nico hates Adam and goes all out to destroy their relationship. The tortoise feels that Fadzly, the owner of a pet shop, will make a better partner for Nani, and tries to fix them up. Unknown to Nico, Fadzly has an ulterior motive in getting close to Nani.

Playing Nani is Tiz Zaqyah while Airel Zafrel and Fizz Fairuz portray Adam and Fadzly respectively. Produced by KRU Studios Sdn Bhd, Cinta Kura Kura marks Nizam Zakaria’s debut as a film director.

As an animal lover, it’s not surprising to find Nizam casting a tortoise as the lead in his debut film. “My parents are animal lovers and they have instilled the love of animals in me,” says the 38-year-old who also wrote the script for the film. “My parents would take me to the zoo and I grew up in a house full of cats. Now, I have a cat called Girang that I talk to.”

In fact, the first television drama Nizam directed in 2007 was called Radio Gaga, featuring a talking cat in the lead role.

“Tortoises are more difficult to direct than cats,” says Nizam who has directed several TV dramas and has written several TV scripts and five novels. “Cats follow your instructions better than tortoises. Also, it is more difficult to get the tortoise to stay still for a long time.”

One wonders if his type of films – animation live action – will go down well with the Malay audience who prefer romance and action films such as KL Gangster and Ombak Rindu.

“Malaysian audiences have accepted Hollywood films with talking animals such as Chipmunks and Garfield,” he rationalises. “I do not see why they could not accept a Malay movie like Cinta Kura Kura. Besides, as a director, I love the challenge of trying genres that have never been explored in Malaysian cinemas.”

He points out that he has been innovative with some TV dramas and miniseries that he had directed in the past. A good example, he says, was the TV series Hotel Mania that he directed two years ago. “Nobody has directed a local musical TV series before [him].”

Since he was a child, Nizam had always wanted to be a film director. He started his career as a novelist before venturing to scriptwriting and finally, to the director’s chair.

“There is always a need in me to tell stories,” he says. “When you tell your story visually, it makes more impact.”

Nizam will be directing his second film, Datuk K Kahwin Lima soon. It is supposed to be a comedy about a man who got married to five women.

He is aware of past Malay movies with a similar theme on polygamy, including P. Ramlee’s Madu Tiga, but Nizam promises a different twist and view on the polygamy issue in his film.