Yipee! The school holiday is officially commences. For merely a week, all school activities are put on halt; except if one is teaching Year 6 pupils- extra classes are geared up as usual *sigh*. As for me, I am spending most of the holidays in Putrajaya and of course once a while, do little bit of peekaboo to Serendah, Hulu Selangor. Like I said before, I have make promises to make myself amenable for traveling rendezvouses throughout this year, 2011; albeit locally or abroad. So, this time around, decided to visit the old-palace-turned-into-museum “Istana Seri Menanti” at Negeri Sembilan!
Negeri Sembilan or loosely known as The Nine States is famous for its Minangkabau and Pagar Ruyung ancestral lineages which mainly encompass its cultural and regal heritages. I have always hear about the famous Seri Menanti Palace which is the emblem of Negeri Sembilan’s regal artistry. The en route to Seri Menanti from Kuala Lumpur is very clear-cut. Take the Balakong/Sungai Long highway and then proceed to LEKAS highway. By using LEKAS, one can reach Kuala Pilah exit within merely 30 minutes and then proceed to Seri Menanti which is clearly exhibited by the signboards. Easy and breezy. (,”)
My first impression of the Royal Town is that it is idyllic, serene and clean. Seri Menanti seems to be an epitome of what a ‘kampung’ (country-side/village) should have looked like! It is surrounded by hills; possibly a valley it is. The old palace of Istana Seri Menanti boasts its towering architectural which can be seen right from afar. The roof was built with ‘scissor-shaped’ points which is said to represent buffalo horns and the palace was said to be built WITHOUT using any nails at all! Amazing, ain’t it? It is already of age around 100 years and a cultural heritage that should be preserved!
After scrutinizing the regal heirlooms, artifacts and admiring the beautiful Minangkabau architecture as well as the blue-yonder panoramic view of Seri Menanti, pushed off back to Central Region. Had luncheon at a stall near Ulu Bendul, a recreational park which is situated at the Kuala Pilah-Seri Menanti en route. Via LEKAS, arrived at The Mines less than an hour! Impressive, aite?
Initially, I have thought of booking ticket via online but turned out that I have to PAY ONLINE! This was different when I booked ticket for “Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows (Part I)- I could simply booked the ticket without having to pay for the tickets just yet. Anyway, managed to secure ticket for “Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa”. On whole, the film is a masterpiece that Malaysians can be proud of; in terms of its mythical adaptation, the locally-made CGIs and also the strong plot to support the film. I noticed that sexual innuendos are cleverly interjected just to add spicy flavour and the dialogues are less-poetry than of “Puteri Gunung Ledang” but yet retains the flowery rhythm of Bahasa Melayu/Malaysia; which is good because generations of these days shun the idea of watching linguistic-saturated piece of arts. All they want are actions, romance and mind-blowing CGIs. In terms of that, I personally believed KRU had fulfilled that via “Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa” but of course, there are a few flaws of here and there. Nonetheless, victorious supersedes the weakness.
In terms of ensemble of casts chosen, I believe Stephen Rahman-Hughes was a brilliant choice albeit he is of mix-parentage and hardly speak Bahasa Malaysia; but the pronunciation and the way he embodies and portrays the character is satisfactory. Probably due to his Broadway experience. The characters Roman Prince, Marcus is an alright performance; not a mind-blowing but it was OK. The Chinese Princess character is the subject of sexual innuendos of the film. With the Chinese-accented English, it is a make-believe that the Princess could converse English and Chinese interchangeably. But for the Bahasa Malaysia/Bahasa Melayu dialogue, it seemed so obvious that lines were dubbed. Too bad.
Merong Mahawangsa, Kesum (the shaman) & Embok (the love interest).
Kesum & Embok.
Roman Prince & Chinese Princess.
The character Embok, Merong Mahawangsa’s love interest and later his wife is portrayed by Umi Nazeera. She seemed like a good actress in “Nur Kasih” but unfortunately her character and the portrayal isn’t that superb in this film. The memorable characters-portrayal would definitely go to Kamawas, the crook (Khir Rahman) and the Chinese Princess handmaiden (Nell Ng). They are good and definitely put their immense embodiment of respective characters in their souls!
Merong Mahawangsa, Yasodha (Indian Lady) & Indian fighter.
Kamawas, the crook led the war.
The Chinese camping at Langkasuka’s beach.
On whole, I give 4 stars outta 5 for making me very proud with the local masterpiece. Malaysia BOLEH!