Today is the first screening day of a new film called “Mudras Calling” in Myanmar and I can’t wait to see it sooner. Well, actually I hate to queue in ticket line too long and don’t want any actors/actress greeting audience at the end of the film like they are really nice and all so I will wait at least a week to cool down a bit and then go see the film before closing. So, this is clearly not a film review.
It’s rare to see Myanmar people getting excited about seeing a Burmese film. When we talk about films & movies here, conversations are mostly based around Hollywood, Bollywood, Korean Drama, Japanese Series and Chinese movies etc. The only topic for Burmese film industry is how bad it is. It is even cliché really. You don’t have to be in the cinemas to witness that either. If you have ever been on the express bus, you’ll know. It is not just the quality of the movie itself, it is characters being too loud, jokes at the expense of either disabled or gay people, weak storylines etc. But then, we have few places to hang out for relaxation in Myanmar other than cinemas. Picks between ragged public recreation areas, creepy Chinese-funded game zones/gambling centers and fancy swimming pools only available for a handful of elite people leave us with not many choices but to go sit in the air-conditioned room making some cheap laughs at “trying too hard” jokes. That’s pretty much the reason why cinemas are still filled; actors & actresses are still very rich.
Bottom line is we hated Myanmar films/movies so much.
Well, until recently.
Just a few weeks ago, new faces entered into limelight with their debut film called “Deception” which was such a fine work that it became a hit in no time and public loved the quality and effort of the production team. Apparently, the director and the main actor from the film are a married couple who studied abroad. Anyway, as people loved that film so much that they wrote/talked/posted about how different it was from average Burmese films; “Deception” was everything that average Burmese films lack of; “Deception” set the bar too high; “Deception” people met international level etc. However, people from film industry (who are responsible for your sleepless night on the overnight bus) took these feedbacks offended, getting defensive and started to weigh in. They talked about the limitations they had due to some censorships, financing, and regulations and complained how indifferent this “Deception” was from theirs and how they were being discriminated unfairly (One film director went so far as to say that he was willing to create international standard action movies with explosive scenes like those from fast and furious but car prices were too high and government were responsible to act on it). And they were quite united in doing that. If a well-known person (an artist) praised “Deception”, those people from film industry considered treason and started to foul-mouth that individual.
And it led to the war between “so called” film industry vs fans behind “Deception”. For we have suffered too much and waited too long. We had seen some progress of the film entertainment via short films and documentaries made by young people but none of it ever came close to screening on cinemas probably due to limitations such as financing, lack of access. Finally, a decent film worth of talking happened and if some people didn’t approve of it, it’s their loss. And apparently it’s the same people who tortured us with awful & tasteless performances. They had their time, taking more money than they deserved out of cheap, incompetent, unentertaining films that they made every other week. At the end of the day, quality and hard work are going to win and when it happens, they will not have anything to show for it. Sooner or later, time will come for them to pack up, find another career (probably some uninspiring desk-job), hide in the shadows thinking about all the shitty works from the past and live out their years in great dismay unless they learn how to learn about “quality” and try to produce of their own.
For the time being, the same people who made “Deception” are coming up with this another film called “Mudras Calling” and we are really excited. I am sure every movie fan in the country is hopeful that this film sets an even higher bar while it also inspires people to create more.
So, Mudra’s calling. On every single one of us.
Zwe Oak Soe