Merely within a fortnight of the screening, “Ola Bola”, a film about a squad of Malaysian footballers worked their efforts to qualify for the 1980 Moscow Olympics has garnered an impressive amount of RM8 million – and that alone could be considered as huge success given the fact that Malaysians are becoming more thrifty on spending as the life expenses are skyrocketing and more financial pressures are to be shouldered by the plain Rakyat as taxes, summons, etc are hiking up the pricing hierarchy!!! I finally had the chance to watch this movie yesterday with my nephew at Jitra Mall Cinema and indeed, I was mesmerized by the authentic spirit – but of course, there are certain flaws and that proved to be very enticing for the haters.
The film poster. It is true that sport is a strategic subject to unite various races. It is not a myth. It is a fact.
The film is directed by Chiu Keng Guan and with the support of media behemoth like ASTRO Shaw, you could expect extravagant advertising and marketing strategies. As a Corporate Communication Master’s Degree holder (ooops! Feel so unreal, isn’t it?), I applause the Integrated Marketing Communication tools used by ASTRO Shaw to promote this film :-
- Advertisements are aired vehemently in the channels;
- Malaysian sportsmen and athletes were given “early birds screening” and their comments are aired in the TV which could ignite the curiosity of their fans about the film;
- The theme song “Arena Cahaya” (The Arena of Light) sung by Zee Avi is played continuously via the phone while a customer waits for the ASTRO officers to entertain their questions.
- MILO does “product placement” in the movie as part of deal in sponsorship. Can you see the character Balak drank MILO with Marriane, the journalist?
The actors in “Ola Bola” – Saran Kumar (Muthu), Luqman Hafidz (Ali), JC Chee (Tauke) & Bront Palarae (Rahman).
OK, now to the movie. I actually enjoyed watching it. Whatever the emotions portrayed by the characters were felt, deep inside. When there were a few comic relief scenes (much from Muthu’s 3 younger brothers), you couldn’t help but feeling tickled and giggled out loud; and when there were heart-wrenching scenes, you felt twinge of melancholy; and when the Malaysian team was against the other nations, it was as if you were watching a live telecast and you were rooting for the victory – although definitely that were just acted scenes!
But of course there are flaws and I assembled these based on my observations as well as feedback I collected from Facebook. Some of the oldies were ‘unhappy’ as the portrayal of the characters and the story were not “100% truth from the history” and “did not exude the same euphoria feeling”. They despised the changes of the names as well as the fictionalized narration. Under the same umbrella but with racial / regional embroideries , some also complained that “in the history, the victory goal was scored by a Sabahan” by why in the movie, it was scored by a Malay? And then, there were also complaints of saying that the protagonist is a Chinese (Tauke), hence the film is 60% Chinese and then 30% Indian (Muthu) and 10% Malay (Ali, Rahman – with Rahman’s family scenes perceived as not as significant as Tauke’s and Muthu’s). OH MY GOD!!!
The tagline, first mentioned by Ali : “Kita menang sama-sama, kita kalah sama-sama”. It is a reflection for all of us Malaysians as a multiracial society.
Honestly to answer all these are very simple – this is a fiction, a MOVIE. It uses history as the background but with fictionalized narration!! The same concept like “Titanic” and “Bajirao Mastani”. You think there was a Jack Dawson in Titanic who fucked a Rose de Witt Bukater? You think that Bajirao and Mastani really had that tragic love story for real? GOSH, this ain’t a history lesson! Of course, it is a good channel to expose the audience to real history but not to be taken as literal academic lesson!! And as for the racial segregation scenes, I would say that it is a high time that other races want their parts to be the center of the story; not to only serve as the sidekicks of the Malay protagonists, no?
Can’t help feeling so proud seeing beauty of Malaysia in the movie. Enthralling!
Then again, it is prerogative. People can say whatever they want to say. But as for me, I am proud with the movie. It is not just a movie about football. It is about us, Malaysians. And what our forefathers did during the 70s and 80s. They played with their souls and spirits despite not being paid handsomely like the Malaysian footballers of today. They fought for the glory of nation. It was sad that they did not go to the Olympics 1980 as Malaysia boycotted Russia for the invasion on Afghanistan BUT that did not deter their spirits! And to have “Inilah Barisan Kita” (These Are Our Defense Lines) military anthem sung by the characters as well as to have a few scenes showing the beauty of our Motherland Malaysia – now that really injected sense of pride patriotism in me and definitely I felt goosebumps right away!
The real Malaysian heroes in the qualifying match to the Moscow Olympics 1980. So proud of them! I wasn’t born yet; only 4 years later in 1984. Haha!
As Malaysians, this is a must-see film for y’all. Inspiring (for me) – “Kita menang sama-sama; kita kalah sama-sama” (We win together, we lose together). THUMBS UP!
My nephew, Rifqi and I. He watched the film for the second time so he knew all the plots. He kept telling me the narration of the story and that forced me to snap at him – “Shut up, don’t spoil Yeye’s mood! Haha!”.