Sunday March 17, 2013
By AZHARIAH KAMIN
The popular group of football-loving young friends from Kampung Gong Lechar sets out to save a princess — in 3D!
SEVEN years after they made their debut on local television, the lovable kids of Bola Kampung are finally going to be on the big screen.
The kids were introduced to viewers in 2005, and the series quickly became one of the most popular animated shows on TV, airing in Malaysia via local TV, Disney Channel Asia and Cartoon Network Asia. The show, now in its sixth season, is also shown in 16 countries all over Asia.
Not only will Bola Kampung – The Movie be released in the cinemas nationwide, but the movie will also showcase state-of-the-art CGI work by Animasia Studio, in association with Young Jump Animation.
If the recent media screening was anything to go by, the movie features exciting and immersive 3D images, and is a realistic audiovisual experience unlike anything you have ever seen in past Bola Kampung episodes.
As such, the RM6mil movie is expected to attract a great deal of interest from its young fan base, and some adults, too.
Bola Kampung – The Movie is about the misadventures of a football-loving group of friends led by the lovable Iwan. The gang is in for some exciting times when Iwan accidentally mistakes a princess for his cousin and brings her home!
The young Princess Amanda is actually from a virtual game world called Kingdom Hill, and has been sent to Kampung Gong Lechar in search of the legendary Suria Warrior, who will save her kingdom in times of crisis. Unfortunately, the princess suffers from memory loss the minute she arrives in the village.
Meanwhile, Iwan, the hero of Bola Kampung, is awaiting the arrival of his cousin Siti, who is coming over for a visit during the school holidays. He’s not sure what she looks like, so upon seeing Amanda, he immediately thinks it’s Siti and brings her back to his house.
Amanda, oblivious to what’s happening around her, happily spends her days in the village with Iwan and his friends, without realising that an evil villain from Kingdom Hill has sent an assassin to Kampung Gong Lechar to look for her.
As time goes by, the princess slowly starts to regain her memory and realises why she came to the village. Unfortunately, she is captured by the assassin. Iwan, together with Sabok and Azizul, then head over to the virtual world to save her. Once there, they have to undergo a challenge – play football against giant robots!
The movie took four long years to make and features the voices of some of Malaysia’s top celebrities, including popular local musicians, composers, models and actors/actresses such as Afdlin Shauki, Ezlynn, Noh (of Hujan), Douglas Lim, Aizat Amdan and Marsha Milan Londoh.
According to the movie’s co-director Ah Loong, choosing the right voice talents was very important.
“We auditioned more than 100 talents for the characters in the movie. And after going through a few rounds (of auditions), here we are now – I’m very happy with the result,” said Ah Loong.
To help the cast in using the right intonation and vocal pitch to voice their characters, actress and acting instructor Joanna Bessey was brought in to coach everyone.
“What we have is a very demanding director who wants to ensure everything is in tip-top condition. All of them are very talented and all I did was to concentrate in bringing out the emotions and expressions from each one of them. We had to adjust to voice acting (as opposed to normal acting) a little but it has been a really fun experience. You know, like being in the studio and playing out the script,” explained Bessey.
Apart from finding the right voices for the characters, Ah Loong said, the most challenging part of making the movie was coming up with a storyline which would entertain the whole family.
Meanwhile, the actors also had some reservations of their own, but everyone managed to overcome them.
For Afdlin Shauki, playing the character Sabok made him a hero in his children’s eyes.
“I’m proud to play Sabok and now I’m the new hero for my kids!
“I was jealous of my wife when she started doing voice-overs for some animated shows because my children were more excited about her projects than mine.
“When the offer for Bola Kampung came, I said yes because it was my chance to be my children’s hero!” revealed the multi-talented Afdlin, who is an actor, comedian and director.
His wife, Christina Orow, is also in show business with her latest work featured in the recent film project Ikal Mayang.
“To play a young boy like Sabok I practically had to find my ‘inner Sabok’ as he is very happy-go-lucky, innocent and naive, yet he is not afraid to fight for what he believes in,” Afdlin said.
He added that he and the movie’s producers and director discussed what kind of voice would be suitable for Sabok; they decided upon a younger version of the actor’s natural voice.
As for singer-actress Ezlynn, the chance to play Iwan was pure luck.
“I remember I went to the studio one night to record my new single. Then I was informed that the voice casting for a movie was also being conducted at the same time and they suggested that I give it a try. I did it out of fun, really, thinking that I may be lucky enough to play one of the girls in the movie.
“But when they called me later to tell me that I would be playing Iwan – a boy – I just couldn’t believe it! Me? playing a young boy?” shared Ezlynn, who is famous for her hit song Hi Hi Bye Bye.
She noted that after listening to recordings of herself as Iwan, she sometimes finds it hard to believe that it’s her voice.
Another co-star who has never done any voice-over work for cartoons before is Noh, the lead singer of local band Hujan.
“Truthfully, it was hard ... you know, being a songwriter and singer, and not an actor. But Joanna helped me a lot. It was a learning process for me and it was the best experience ever.
“Besides, I’m a big fan of animation and when I was informed that Bola Kampung is not only a local production but (that the movie) will also be shown in 3D, I just couldn’t possibly pass up the chance to be in it. I’m honoured to be a part of it,” said Noh, who plays Hacker, a ... hacker who helps the group leap into the virtual kingdom.
Award-winning singer Aizat admitted to preferring anime to conventional cartoons. “But being a part of this movie is really an honour for me.
“Basically, the characters we play in the movie help us release the ‘inner child’ in all of us. It allows us to scream in excitement and stuff. It has been a pleasurable experience having Joanna coach us (so that we could) lend our voices to the characters.
“Also, playing the naughty Mat was no sweat for me because it is a little bit like singing. I didn’t have to show my facial expressions because it was all done behind the screen.”
■ Bola Kampung – The Movie kicks off at cinemas nationwide on March 21.