By Lee Chin Suet & Leven Woon
Controversial rapper Wee Meng Chee, who is better known as Namewee, will be showcasing his debut film, Nasi Lemak 2.0, in 60 theatres nationwide on Sept 8.
The 148-minute film, directed by Wee himself, is a semi-independent production that costs only RM1 million but contains dialogues in Malay, English, Tamil, Mandarin and other Chinese dialects used in Malaysia.
“Even though the film was shot mostly in Mandarin and Cantonese, we also included Malay, English and Tamil to make it probably the movie with the most languages,” Wee said.
The 28-year-old said he was lucky to secure sponsorship from corporate companies to kickstart the film shooting, despite his bids to secure various types of government funding being rejected last year.
“Some of them sponsored me a little bit after I posted a video about my budget shortage last year,” he said, referring to the ‘Namewee wanna meet PM Malaysia’ video.
Asked to comment about the authorities’ disapproval of him, Wee said at least de facto Law Minister Nazri Abdul Aziz (right in photo) helped him to clear his name.
He said after a meeting with Nazri last December, the outspoken minister had written an open letter to support his cause to produce the film.
“Without the letter, I would not even (be able to) shoot a reel of film,” he said, adding that he was shooting with a digital single-lens reflex camera instead of more professional, pricey equipment.
Host of local stars
The film stars Afdlin Shauki, Adibah Noor, Nur Fathia, former Alleycats vocalist David Arumugam, singer Karen Kong, Reshmonu, and model Felixia Yeap, among others.
The film’s executive producer, Fred Chong, said ‘Nasi Lemak 2.0‘ was used as the title as the item was created by the various races in Malaysia.
“The Nyonyas created sambal, India introduced curry and Malays are good at using ikan bilis, this is how we make a plate of nasi lemak,” he said.
In the movie, Wee plays a lost chef who is finding his way to be a Malaysian.
“The main theme of the movie is the 1Malaysia spirit, how to identify yourself as a Malaysian first before anything else,” Wee said.
“Of course there is a problem with the system because there will always be a problem. But you must first fix the problem in your heart. Only then can you fight the system,” Wee added.
In March, the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry denied Wee access to a RM2.5million creative fund because of his alleged involvement in activities that went against Malaysian norms and values.
Namewee rose to notoriety after his rendition of the national anthem, Negaraku, called I Love My Country Negarakuku went viral in 2007.
He subsequently produced another rap song Nah! with anti-racist lyrics that also grabbed a lot of media attention because of Malay-rights NGO Perkasa demonstrating against his promotional tour.