STOP10 Jul 2017: 'Gunting' by M. Raihan Halim

Launched on the first day of Hari Raya, Gunting (which means ‘scissors’ or ‘to cut’ in Malay) tells the heart warming story of a young man, played by well-known singer-songwriter Taufik Batisah, who pursues his passion to become a hairstylist despite his father’s fierce objections (played by veteran actor J A Halim). Directed and written by acclaimed filmmaker M. Raihan Halim who last produced Banting, the telemovie is a collaboration between the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) and Tribal Worldwide. 
The film explores the estranged relationship between a father and his son - as the father, who has ill, has to close his barbershop results in his son putting his own career on hold to return to Singapore to open gentlemen's barbershop "Salihin & Sons". The telemovie underscores the struggle and balance between expectations and aspirations. Remaining relevant, it looks to encourage seizing new opportunities, lifelong learning, innovation and entrepreneurship
Supporting actors include other acclaimed artistes such as Adlina Adil, Yuslina Yussof, Rahimah Rahim and Shane Mardjuki. 
Fans can also look out for the theme song titled, Untuk Kita (For Us), composed and penned by Taufik. 
We found the story telling particularly sincere with solid performances from very established actors. The telemovie aired on Suria on 25 June 2017, and a repeat telecast is scheduled for 1 July 2017 at 3pm. The telemovie will be made available on and Toggle thereafter.

Salihin has to close his barber shop as his diabetes worsens. His estranged son, Taufik, who went against Salihin’s wishes to pursue his passion to become a hairstylist, returns home to look after him.

Unwilling to let his father’s 40-year legacy disappear, Taufik and his childhood friend Hisyam, decide to open “Salihin & Sons” – a gentleman’s barber shop in the HDB heartlands.

Together with a spunky contractor Adi, an enterprising assistant Huda (Hisyam’s younger sister), the two young men turn their vision into reality. The two entrepreneurs expand their business beyond their brick and mortar shop, by digitalising their services and developing their own line of beard and hair care products to sell overseas.

SINdie had the opportunity to chat with director and screenwriter M. Raihan Halim

After watching, am curious to find out on the inspiration behind the script - how did this father / son story come about? 
I've always loved stories about the generational gap between parents. For Banting, it was between a mother and daughter. Naturally, I felt that I wanted to see a story about a father and his son. I remember specifically the moment I knew I had the story when I thought of the ending. I always knew that I wanted to do a story about a father who disagrees with his son's choice of career -- barbering/hairstyling. I wanted a very visual representation of how the two would resolve itself. And I thought: "Why not let the son cut the father's hair?" It's sweet, heartwarming and most importantly -- cathartic for both the characters to be in that situation. And I knew I had my telemovie...

And any particular reason why a barbershop? Perhaps a secret passion?
Nope. No secret passion. Truth be told, we were thinking lots of different variations of the stories. The idea of the barber came pretty late in our discussions but everything seems to fit so nicely. There are some careers that are pretty synonymous with the different races in Singapore. And I have been going to Malay barbers since I was a kid. I remember all the Pakciks with all their stories, their cigarette laced breath and how much they have to say about life to someone they barely know sitting before them. And with the current rise in gentleman' barbershops in Singapore, I just that it's fitting that I do a story about barbers -- both the old...and the new.

I thought the script was particularly reflective of the modern Singapore, was this intentional?  

Oh yes. It is intentional to be reflective of modern Singapore.

How did the theme song by Taufik come about?
The theme song came out of the man himself, Mr. Taufik Batisah. We had a small discussion about how we felt the song was like. But I did share with him that final scene where the music will be played over the son cutting the father's hair. That's basically all the direction or suggestion I gave. I remembered hearing the demo draft for the first time and was blown away...

I felt that the casting was extremely strong. What was the chemistry like on set? Perhaps any particular interesting incidents? 
The casting was epic. I knew I wanted Taufik Batisah to be the lead once we locked on the idea of the barbershop. Hisyam Hamid came in naturally and for me it was tough because Hisyam is a megastar in Malaysia and Singapore. For him to come in and support Taufik as a lead is a big deal for me and one that I will never forget. JA Halim was someone I've always wanted to work with. And he was epic! Yuslina Yussof was someone I worked with in her debut drama. She is always awesome. My muse, Adlina Adil, always manage to find her way into my films...and I wonder why. 😅

For Shane Marjuki and Najib Soiman, I wanted two actors who can actually disappear into the background but still be interesting enough to pop into the forefront when they need do. Shane and I are secretly in love so he knows I'll put him in as many projects as possible so there's no surprise that we'd work together again in Gunting. Najib is a veteran and I remembered telling him: "You should not do this role. Because it is a super tiny one...but yet memorable. And it'll be just awesome to have him in" Najib agreed in a heartbeat. Just goes to show that there are no small roles...just small actors.

What was the most entertaining part about making the telemovie? 
The most entertaining part of the project is working with the cast. They are epic and I just look forward to come down to set every day just to have fun. Seriously!

How has the reception to the telemovie been since launch? Any unexpected reactions?
It's been positive! PHEW! We have some haters, for sure. Reading reviews are important to me because I didn't make the film for myself. I want to know what the people are thinking. If its good, I'll smile. If it's bad, I try to see why the viewers didn't like it. Constructive bad reviews are good.

What are your hopes for this film? 
I hope that audiences will laugh and cry with Gunting. There are some strong messagings about learning new skills late in life, perils of diabetes and taking businesses into the digital age. But above all, I had always aimed to make Gunting entertaining and fun for the whole family. So yes, catch the 45 minute telemovie and have a blast.

Following Banting, and now Gunting – what’s next for you?
The joke is to make a "Ting" Trilogy. Banting, Gunting...and another Ting. There are no plans for a Ting trilogy yet. But we are working on some exciting TV projects that are pretty unique to say the least. I am also working on a short film tentatively called The Cow. On the film front, we are hard at work with IBU (to be shot in February) and also writing the next film, LA LUNA which had the fortune to garner two awards at the HAF (Hong Kong Asia Film Financing Forum). It'll be a busy such to the new year and beyond. Exciting times ahead...

Images provided by Papahan Films Pte Ltd

Watch the entire film below.
Also watchable from Toggle

Here is an interesting YouTube playlist for a series of behind-the-scenes videos related to the making of Gunting.

Written by Ivan Choong

For the full list of July 2017's 10 films under STOP10, click here
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