Review - Sayang Disayang by Sanif Olek

Sayang Disayang was screened as a closing film at the 4th Southeast Asian Film Festival on May 4th, 2014. The Southeast Asian Film Festival continues to showcase an extensive list of the freshest and most compelling cinematic work in the region. Exploring core issues and concerns of the region, the Festival also strives to provide a favourably interactive, engaging and inspiring environment for audiences, emerging directors and veteran filmmakers.

A debut by one of Singapore's celebrated director and string of star studded cast, with the likes of Dato Rahim Razali, Aidli 'Alin' Mosbit, Asnida Daud, Rafaat Hamzah and Sani Hussin, make a recipe for a highly anticipating film.

Sayang Disayang tells the story of a disgruntled man, Pak Harun (played by Dato Rahim Razali), who deeply grieves over his wife's passing in a road accident. His son who blames him for the accident has arranged for a live-in nurse from Aceh, Murni (played by Aidli Mosbit), to tend and care for his half paralyzed father while he is working overseas.

Back home, Murni gets constantly chided for her bad cooking by Pak Harun – especially over his favorite traditional Nusantara (Indonesian archipelago) dish, Sambal Goreng. The two faces difficulty in getting along with one another. Murni tries to fill the empty mansion with her singing as she prepares meals for him.

Murni's perseverance pays off with a special visit by Pak Harun's late wife who lend a hand in perfecting the Sambal Goreng dish to Pak Harun's taste and liking. Eventually, the man relents and begins to form a loving relationship with his caretaker.

The 78-minute film crafts a beautiful harmony of food and melodies. It exhibits cultural semiotics and vibrant visuals that are quintessential to the Nusantara region. The storyline is indeed interesting and relevant. However, there is little insight on Murni's character in terms of status, age and personal thought process. The ending seems abrupt in establishing Murni as a replacement to Pak Harun's late wife but does not clearly state her newfound role as either a wife or companion.

As a whole, the film does a good job in keeping the culture alive with a delightful balance of tradition and contemporary display. It also holds true to the old saying, the way to a man's heart is certainly through his stomach!

Sayang Disayang's trailer can be viewed here.

Review by Haswani
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