Monday, September 3, 2012

29 Februari - A Malaysian Button And Gump

KRU's latest movie is 29 Februari.

It is the story of a Selangorian man named Budi Halim Kamal born on February 29, 1896.

He ages slowly and he becomes a year older every four years.

He lives through history.

He grows with Malaysia.

He spends his lifetime pursuing Lily Ho, the love of his life whom he met on August 31, 1957, Independence Day.

While he loses many people dear to him because they age faster than him and go before him, he also becomes wiser and more mature as a result of his longevity.

He dedicates his life to caring for his fellow orphans in the orphanage where he grew up.

Produced by KRU.

Directed by Edry Abdul Halim.

Written by Amir Hafizi Mohd Sood.

Starring Remy Ishak (Budi), Jojo Goh (Lily), Izzue Mazlan (Razak), Munif Isa (Ariff), Ramli Hassan (Halim), Dian P Ramlee (Halim's wife Sakinah), Nam Ron (Salam), Chew Kin Wah (Ho), Adleena Nordin (Khadijah) and Fizz Fairuz (Johan).

Budi Halim Kamal (Feb 29, 1896 - Aug 31, 2012) was born in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor on February 29, 1896 and was a special child who aged slowly.

A year was three months for him.

He only became a year older on the next February 29.

According to his grand nephews Johan and Ariff, he was born following the fall of a meteor.

His father Halim Kamal was a respected and distinguished civil servant of the Federated Malay States who hailed from Taiping, Perak.

In 1941, Budi's parents Halim and Sakinah were beheaded by the Japanese who invaded Malaya and executed the high ranking civil servants who were slavishly loyal to the British including Halim.

Budi was sent to an orphanage founded by Salam and his wife Fatimah.

He became best friends with Razak, a blind orphan and they learnt to weave rattan balls and baskets.

On August 31, 1957, the day Malaya became independent, a 10-year-old mute girl named Khadijah joined Salam's orphanage in Kuala Lumpur and took an instant liking to Budi, who was the big brother of the orphanage.

Budi also met and fell in love with Lily Ho, a 16-year-old student of The Methodist Girls' School in Kuala Lumpur.

They met in the Merdeka Stadium where first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra officially proclaimed Malaya independent from British rule.

Budi and Razak helped retrieve Lily's handbag from a snatch thief.

Budi and Lily dated for four years.

She briefly went to a teacher's training college in Kuala Lumpur after completing Form Six in 1961.

Lily actually went for teacher training on her father's orders.

He had always objected to her relationship with Budi and forced her to marry Alex Hew, a childhood friend's son.

Lily tried to keep her relationship a secret from her father but sadly her prejudiced younger sister Julie let the secret out.

Lily left home in 1961 to become a singer and actress in Radio Television Malaysia in Georgetown, Penang.

She chose not to see Budi again and she also blamed him for souring her relationship with her prejudiced father.

Salam kicked Budi out of his orphanage as he did not approve of his courtship of Lily.

Budi put up with Mariappan or Ayappan, a barber who was his close friend.

He also learnt that his father had left him his old house which the Japanese had razed.

With Ayappan's help, Budi obtained legal ownership of the house.

In 1969, during the violence of May 13 in Kuala Lumpur, Budi and his boss and friend Ayappan sheltered Lily's businessman father Ho in Ayappan's barber shop.

Ho and Budi made peace and Budi promised Ho that he would look for Lily in Georgetown.

Ayappan kept in touch with Budi until his death in 1985.

He helped Budi renovate Halim's house and make it the new premises for the Salam Orphanage.

Ayappan regularly kept Salam in touch with Budi until their deaths in 1985.

Lily Ho migrated from Kuala Lumpur, Selangor to Georgetown, Penang in 1961 to become a Radio Television Malaysia singer and actress.

She met Razak the foster brother of her lost love Budi Halim when he migrated to Georgetown in 1965.

He had been adopted by a rich businessman who was later one of the founders of the national car company Proton.

Razak got married to the businessman's daughter in 1966 and a year later they had a son named Khairuddin.

Lily became a tenant of the family.

She changed her identity to Elizabeth Ho to avoid detection by her family and Budi whom she blamed for making her estranged from her family.

In 1986, Khairuddin married one of Lily's fellow RTM singers Natasha Lim.

They had a son Ariff a year later.

In 1997, 10-year-old Ariff lost his father in a car accident.

His grand parents died later that year of cancer and Natasha and Lily looked after him.

Budi resumed his friendship with Razak and his family after they were reunited in 1985.

He became an uncle of sorts to the late Khairuddin and also met the newborn Ariff.

However, Lily still kept her identity a secret from Budi.

Lily retired from singing in 1997 and with Natasha, became the owner of a boutique restaurant.

Natasha died of cancer in 2007, the year her son went to university.

After finishing his studies in the Indigenous People's Trust University of Technology in Shah Alam in 2009 and graduating with a business degree, Ariff became an assistant manager for Budi in De Flora, his flower company.

His cousin Johan also served as an assistant manager in the company.

Johan was the grand nephew of Razak and the grandson of Razak's brother-in-law.

Lily was by now terminally ill with cancer, as was Budi.

Lily and Budi were reunited when he visited her in Georgetown Hospital on Ariff's invitation.

It was her birthday, March 1. She was 71.

By now Lily had decided to revert to her original name and make peace with Budi.

During this time Budi made a will that his property would be inherited by Lily and later Ariff.

Lily had made peace with her parents and her sister Julie in 1975.

She also made peace with her onetime fiance Alex in 1985 when he and his wife met her after a concert performance.

Her parents passed on in 1985 as did Budi's and Razak's foster parents who owned the Salam Orphanage in Kuala Lumpur.

Ayappan, Budi's barber friend who helped him obtain ownership of his family home, also passed on in 1985.

Lily and Budi died on National Day, August 31, 2012 exactly 55 years after they first met.

Budi had been seriously injured when he was knocked down by a car in the midst of the annual National Day parade.

He died a few hours after Lily in Georgetown Hospital.

The cause of his death was not the injuries but cardiac arrest, the result of loss of will power to live after seeing Lily critically ill in the same intensive care unit of the Georgetown Hospital.

Ariff then inherited both their businesses and those of his grandfather and great grandfather.

Johan helped him manage the businesses.

The Salam Orphanage was renamed Budi Orphanage in memory of Budi on December 4, 2012.

It is operated by Ariff, Johan and Khadijah, the 65-year-old and once mute foster sister of Budi and Razak, who had miraculously regained her speech over the last 20 years.

The home of Budi's father Halim was renovated in 1979 and is now the orphanage's premises.

Budi lived for 116 years and six months.

In his own biological years, it was 29 years, a month and 15 days.

According to Khadijah, Ariff and Johan, his spirit appears in Budi Orphanage in the form of a firefly.

Sometimes there are two fireflies, the other being the spirit of Lily.

Both of them loved fireflies and dreamed of becoming fireflies.