The internet erupted into flames when FINAS CEO, Ahmad Idham announced he was working on censoring content produced by streaming giant, Netflix. Apparently, he voiced out his concerns regarding the type of ‘detrimental’ messages that were being pushed by the streaming website to Malaysia’s young and impressionable audience. However, his intentions may not be as noble as we might have thought. When news broke pertaining to his collaboration with a new streaming platform, Aflix, his motives became scintillatingly clear. It was a power play and it isn’t as smart as he probably thinks it is.
Salam Semua. Di sini saya ingin memperjelaskan perihal kenyataan media yang mana tajuk utamanya mengatakan Finas akan usul pada Kerajaan untuk tapis Netflix.
— Ahmad Idham (@Ahmad_Idham) November 16, 2019
So, with the new developments and the new ‘ethical’ streaming site, Aflix, in the works, maybe we need to get a gist of what type of content Idham condones. And what better way to gauge a better understanding than to dissect his most notorious film, Pencuri Hati Mr. Cinderella.
Yes, if you were wondering, I did watch this. Several times. It’s because I love you and I am dedicated to my work in reviewing this atrocity so you never have to witness it for yourself. Now, most people would preface a movie review with the saying, “take my words with a grain of salt” but in this case, what I am presenting to you is exactly what the film truly is.
Without further ado, let’s jump into the review. Spoilers ahead, although I don’t think you’d care about having your experience ruined because the film will inherently do that for you.
You know the drill. If a film doesn’t start with a montage of fast foreign cars, does it really qualify for theatrical release? I mean think about it, all our finest creations such as KL Gangster or Remp-It will feature at least 7 car shots at the minimum. Any lesser than that, buang je lah!
By the way, did I mention that Ahmad Idham wrote, directed and starred in this masterpiece? Ugh, we love a triple threat!
After a full minute of unnecessary car montages (which is where most of the budget goes to), we finally get the anticipated title card, “Pencuri Hati Mr. Cinderella.” Down in-front, the show’s about to start!
So, since Idham has such a high calibre for the films and content Malaysia should be showing to audiences, you’d think the story wouldn’t revolve around sleazy karaoke bars and clubs, right? Oh, you thought wrong. Salman, our protagonist played by Mr. Idham himself (because of course), does what any upstanding citizen with virtuous morals would do… karok lah beb. He even agrees to a hostess/escort for the night, and in his friend’s (the comedic relief in the black & striped sweater) words, “Dia nak rasa gadis Malaysia. Belacan punya, takmau teochew, takmau tomyam.”
Yeah, because women are essentially food for men to devour, right? Great message. I’ll be sure to relay that to my future kids.
Remember when Idham insisted on censoring Netflix for showing LGBT characters… You’d think he wouldn’t… Ah forget it. You already know he inserted gay characters in his film and as the butt of a joke, no less. Sensible man, he is. The matron of the establishment took one look at the men pictured above and said to her girls, “Kita cari bilik lain, ini bilik takde ong punya.” Haha, good one, Idham!
As he leaves the karaoke bar, we get our meet-cute of the hero and his heroine, played by Atikah Suhaime. Of course, it’s not really that cute because he almost runs her over with his expensive, foreign car (because hero mana boleh bawak kereta lokal) but I’m working with what I’ve been given here, folks…
Did you miss the car montages? Don’t fret, here’s one more. For no good reason. (Drinking game: drink every time you see an unnecessary car montage. You’ll be hammered and maybe then, this movie will be tolerable)
Salman meets an old partner by chance–to clarify, she’s not the love interest. She’s just another one of his many old flames because who can resist Ahmad Idham–and she implies that she once cooked for him back when they were both in Perth together. She even winks. Aik, macam pernah berdua-duan je… Tapi kata Netflix yang problematic…
Hold for another brief car montage intermission. No, it’s not the same scene, but yes, it’s the same car and yes, I’m dying inside…
Were you wondering why the movie is called Pencuri Hati Mr. Cinderella? No? Let me tell you anyway. Apparently, Salman, a 45 year old man, has a curfew and he has to be home by midnight, like Cinderella. The heroine, eventually steals his heart by the end of the film. Hence, the name. Not to pat myself on the back but I think I have more creativity in my left toe than Ahmad Idham has in his whole body.
Because Salman and his comedic relief friend (I can’t be bothered to learn his name) are incapable of enjoying each other’s company without objectifying women, the matron introduces new hostesses to entertain them while they minom. Aik, minom apa tu bang? Ice lemon tea ke?
Sparks fly when Salman is finally introduced to ‘Lisa’ (the love interest) and as they shake hands, he holds on to her for a little too long while giving her this… charming look. Of course he’s enamoured by her because the matron emphasises that she’s ‘pure’. Because when women lose their virginity, they immediately lose all value. We all know this, don’t we?
But toss all that out the window, she’s hot! So naturally, the friend suggests that if Salman wants to bawak dia balik, he can arrange that for him. Kenapa nak bawak balik? Nak bertadarus sama-sama?
I completely forgot, did I say Ahmad Idham was a triple threat? My mistake. He’s a quadruple threat ‘cos he sings in this movie too. So talented! It’s no wonder he was chosen to be our FINAS CEO.
After a night of singing their hearts out (mind you, not the whole night. Mr. Cinderella needs to be back by midnight or else his Hacket shirt turns into a bargain bin tee and his Lotus turns into a Saga), he offers to take Lisa home to which she obliges because who wouldn’t want to hitch a ride in that sweet, sweet foreign car! Am I right, ladies?
During the car ride, they begin to bond over romantic topics such as cincalok and humble bragging. Did I mention he originally stayed in Perth? If you forgot, Salman will continue to remind you.
Lest we forget how truly opulent the main characters are, we are reminded yet again with another car montage and car buying scene. Totally relatable for the target audience that consists of middle-class folks struggling to get by in our dire economy.
After buying a new car, Salman meets Lisa at a nearby cafe where they negotiate a Pretty Woman-esque deal where he hires her for an entire day just to spend time with him. They actually acknowledge this similarity when Lisa refers to herself as Julia Roberts. Salman replies that Pretty Woman is one of his favourite movies. Maybe he should’ve taken some pointers to make an actual feasible rom-com…
Anyway, it is at this moment, we get this sensual knee-touching scene. Netflix can’t have romantic scenes, absolutely not, but if the FINAS CEO has it, it’s A-okay.
Lisa reluctantly agrees to the deal and they go shopping! He buys her a Ralph Lauren shirt because the audience can never forget that he is rich! Can you remember that? If you can’t (or don’t want to), he pummels you over the head with his wealth a bunch of other times. (Drinking game: drink every time he says Perth if you’re dying to meet the Grim Reaper).
Yeah, it doesn’t seem like he’s overcompensating for anything at all and it’s especially not because the movie only grossed a measly RM100,000 at the box office.
Their first ‘date’ is a road trip to Melaka. Since Lisa is a native, he uses her as his personal GPS system. In fact, that was his justification for bringing her in the first place. But hold up… Why do we get this scene of him stopping in the middle of the road to use the GPS minutes later? WHAT IS THE POINT? WHY DOES THIS NOT MAKE SENSE? WHY AM I STILL WRITING THIS REVIEW? WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
While they’re having lunch in Melaka, ‘Lisa’ divulges that her actual name is… Ameera.
I- my name is Ameera… Is this movie chronicling my future? Am I to meet my very own Mr. Cinderella along the road? A girl can only hope. (Author’s note: I was deeply uncomfortable throughout the rest of the movie because Idham keeps saying my name and it feels disturbingly personal)
After that unsettling revelation, Salman and Ameera (goosebumps) embark on a romantic tour around Melaka. It’s romantic because the music playing in the background is telling you so, otherwise it feels borderline creepy. See for yourself.
Another car montage. He drives a Hummer now. Did you forget he was rich?
The day has come to an end and Ameera decides to visit her mother before returning to KL. Salman, of course, acts as her chauffeur and is even invited to meet the parents. Ooo, a serious romance is brewing. I’m anxious to see what happens next… In the meantime, let me treat you to yet another beautiful shot.
Later on in the film (I’m skipping a few parts because 1) I am close to death and 2) this movie has so many unnecessary scenes that contribute nothing to the story, it’s ridiculous), Salman invites Ameera to a majlis makan at his best friend’s pad. There she meets a man her age (finally!) and they strike up a conversation. He reveals to her that Salman had a brooding period in Perth and it’s presented to us as if it is an integral part of the story, but let me tell you, I couldn’t care less. Oh, Salman merajuk kat Perth? The suspense is killing me…
It turns out, this bachelor is the son of Salman’s best friend. This information will be important later on. If you still care, that is…
During a lull at the party, Salman finds Ameera sitting by herself in the garden. This is the first time an important conversation is brought up. He asks her what her plans for the future are, considering that she will not be young and beautiful forever and that she needs a plan to fall back on. She ponders it before dismissing it saying, “Nanti lah I fikir.” Okay… So much for getting an intellectual conversation, I guess?
That’s alright though because we can’t be serious for too long in an Ahmad Idham film. Salman finally confesses his love for her in the cringiest way by saying, “Sejak kali pertama saya nampak awak, I dapat rasakan satu perasaan yang I dah lama tak rasa. Satu perasan seperti… jatuh cinta.” Cue the fireworks! Or the vomit. Whichever you are inclined to lean towards.
Thankfully, Ameera bails on this man who is twice her senior and returns to the party. Rejected! Just like his appeal to become FINAS’s CEO should have been.
But wait… Ameera is not as revolted by Salman as I am (ironic because we have the same name) because instead of receiving her pay for the night (because their relationship is a business transaction, don’t forget), she decides to reject it. For what reason? Use your imagination, I’m sure you can figure it out.
We are then treated to 2 full minutes of the both of them dreamily looking into the distance, possibly pondering their budding romance. Take my word for it, those were the longest 2 minutes of my life.
Another car montage. The angel of death is whispering in my ear… It’s saying, “Come with me” and it’s truly beguiling.
Finally, Ameera has come to her senses and decides she wants to quit her job, quit Salman and continue her studies. Yes, queen! An important epiphany that foreshadows a tragic ending because of course, Ahmad Idham will not allow an educated woman to succeed.
Exhilarated by her sudden urge for agency, Ameera heads straight to the karaoke bar where she works to quit her job. Of course, the matron is not having it since she did not give a notice prior to her decision. They come to an agreement that Ameera should work one more night, as a courtesy to her employer. She reluctantly agrees and now, we enter the most problematic segment of the movie.
Coincidentally, Ameera’s last customers include the bachelor from the party a.k.a Salman’s best friend’s son. Can you see where this is going? Because upon my initial viewing, I was genuinely thrown for a loop. I’ll give you a moment to guess what happens next.
If you guessed that one of his friends ended up roofie-ing the entire group of girls so they could gang rape them, then… wow, I’m impressed and a little concerned.
Ameera wakes up next to the bachelor after being drugged and raped by him. Now, tell me Ahmad Idham, is this the kind of content we will be seeing on Aflix?
An extremely traumatic incident has happened to the leading lady. Naturally, you’d think that there has to be serious repercussions toward the perpetrator, right? Surely, this will be handled with grace and respect for the victim, no?
The rapist gets a slap in the face from his dad before ‘nobly’ offering to marry Ameera, making her his wife thus taking responsibility for his actions. Really? His punishment for raping her is getting to marry a beautiful woman who he had his eyes set on since they met? Is that the virtuous message that is lacking in Netflix? That rapists get to marry their victims and that you shouldn’t aspire to have a higher education because tragedy is bound to come your way? Because that’s a message I can do without.
Instead of standing by the woman he loves and fighting for the justice that she deserves, Salman, wonderful as he is, decides to ‘let her go’ because he loves her. What kind of bullsh!t is this? The woman you love was raped and you agree with the notion that he should not be prosecuted but instead gets to marry her instead. My head is spinning. I’m going to pop a Panadol before continuing this review.
You would think the movie would end here, right? The woman he loves is forced to marry her rapist and he’s left all alone, yet again. Woe is me… Well, no. The story gets even more pointless towards the end.
The movie actually ends here, with the clip that has gone viral on Twitter due to its absurdity. It features him meeting his estranged ex-wife at an airport, possibly teasing a sequel.
That’s it folks. I’m removing my brain and putting it in an ice bowl to cleanse all the crap I have just witnessed within the span of 1 hour and 32 minutes.
This was an honest movie review of Pencuri Hati Mr. Cinderella, written and directed by our FINAS CEO Ahmad Idham.
I would like to say that I went into this movie desperate to give it a chance. Surely, a person cannot be appointed a CEO of FINAS without having credentials and a noteworthy filmography? I was sorely mistaken. I wonder if Ahmad Idham omitted this atrocity from his resume and replaced it with The Shawshank Redemption because I can’t begin to fathom how we have entrusted the future of our cinema in his inept hands.
From the stilted acting that was a sure result of poor directing and script to the relentless humble-bragging and smugness of Salman, Pencuri Hati Mr. Cinderella is 100% deserving of all the backlash it has received. Not only is it narcissistic to write a self-insert and make him this ultimate ladies man and millionaire, but to write a love story between a 45 year old man and an early 20s girl is absolutely disgusting.
His adamance on policing the content we watch was completely discarded when making his own films because he inserts the same elements he chastises into his craft. It is atrocious, boring and lacks all creativity.
Instead of watching this movie because this review makes it seem like a light-hearted watch, I highly urge you to check out the short films premiering at the 2019 BMW shorties. Meticulously and artistically crafted by filmmakers who are passionate in catalysing a change within our local cinema, these talents are bringing forth topics that we Malaysians are reluctant to speak openly about. The complete antonym of Ahmad Idham’s works, the entries for the shorties are worth the watch and will actually leave you with hope instead of dejection.
FINAS is supposed to be a bright, shining light that guides budding filmmakers to breakthrough the ceiling and reach for greatness, yet appointing people like Ahmad Idham, who is working tirelessly to censor our opinions and interests, is actually casting a giant shadow over our future.
How can we expect progress when people like him want us to remain stagnant? How can we give the people something fresh and different when all they do is feed us the same recycled junk?
We need change. We don’t need 20 different renditions of the same, tired plot-lines. This is why it is important to voice our concerns on the internet and criticise the people at the top. Ahmad Idham is so accustomed to ‘yes men’ that he has completely forgotten the concept of self-awareness. He has lost the plot.
So, keep reminding him.
And for more opinionated reads, choose JUICE.