Still craving for more Malay television realness after the first installment of this exercise?
Our follow-up has arrived, but first on the agenda is a bit of a diversion. We greatly enjoyed telling you about suami/isteri-centric shows and perhaps now is a good time to also show you a bit of what we’ve been talking about.
For the uninitiated, here is a bit of TV3‘s hit series, Playboy… Itu Suami Aku. In this clip below, we see how lead character Adrian (Fattah Amin) demeans his secretary in order to stare at her ass and sexually harass her.
It’s quite interesting isn’t it: you chase away Beyoncé and Gwen Stefani on the grounds that they promote “unclean behaviour” while Playboy… Itu Suami Aku is smashing television ratings during the primetime slot.
Do bear in mind that we don’t really have anything against this sort of television; we’re just having a gripe at what seems to be cracks in the content review system. But that’s just us going off-tangent in defense of Queen B. There’s still no denying that Playboy… Itu Suami Aku features a fair amount of disturbing content (by JAKIM standards, of course — it’s still no Dante’s Cove).
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let us continue on our journey of learning and forming our own understand of suami/isteri-themed television content.
Zura Asyfar‘s novel of the same title was adapted by Primeworks Studios in 2013 and turned into a thirteen episode series starring Izzue Islam and Tiz Zaqyah. If you’ve been following closely, you’d notice that this is the seventh consecutive novel adaptation we’ve featured.
Sebenarnya, Saya Isteri Dia! was on every Friday but it was given the Zehra slot on TV3, which meant it ran a bit later in the night than usual — 9pm to be exact.
This one is a bit tough to explain but bear with us: Syafa and Farish are lovers, but Syafa is made to marry Farish’s younger brother Firash after an incident involving Syafa and Firash sleeping together on the same bed.
Everybody is ashamed by the entire debacle, but Farish gets into an accident and dies on Syafa’s wedding day, effectively putting him out of the picture.
The wedding is kept a secret, and nobody is happy about the entire thing especially Firash, who makes it clear that he’s too young to marry at 21. Syafa and Firash begin acclimatizing to each other despite their age difference, not-so-ideal beginnings and an onslaught of home-wreckers .
Oh, and before we forget, it’s also worth pointing out that both protagonists are step-siblings.
Sebenarnya, Saya Isteri Dia! was nominated for a number of trophies, even taking home the Anugerah Khas at the Anugerah Skrin ke-17 so we’re guessing it must be somewhat good.
This very recent novel-adaptation received a fair bit of attention from activists for its theme and title. Suami Aku Ustaz may be the most clickbait-y title we’ve ever seen, but it’s the story at hand that is truly something special.
Suami Aku Ustaz centers around schoolgirl Alisa (Nora Danish) who is made to marry her much older cousin Hafiz (Adi Putra), an ustaz at her own school.
We don’t condone child marriage but we don’t really have anything against the subject matter either. We only wish it was done through the lens of a filmmaker capable of treating the subject with more respect and depth.
After 11 days in cinemas, FINAS (who can’t even be bothered to spell the title of the film correctly) reports that Suami Aku Ustaz has made a little more than RM600,000.
This is a mildly underwhelming sum given what the film has going for it. Bear in mind that Suamiku, Encik Perfect 10! made RM2,986,091.20 during its run, while relationship drama Pilot Cafe amassed RM1,687,650.01.
While we are on the subject of figures, let’s also have a quick look at Izzue Islam’s box office draw. This particular actor has his face on TV screens and billboards everywhere, but he’s only done a handful of films to date.
Based on this very basic table we’ve done, there’s no doubt when it comes to Izzue’s star power. He’s no Farid Kamil or Aaron Aziz, but he’ll probably get there soon.
Can Suami Aku Ustaz be considered a success? Did Izzue Islam have anything to do with it? Is Nora Danish’s upcoming film Suamiku Jatuh Dari Langit indicative of her worth as a human being?
If only we knew, readers.
This mega-hit was adapted from the eponymous novel by Syamnuriezmil. It created some debate when it was sent to cinemas instead of TV screens as originally planned.
Suamiku, Encik Perfect 10! was created as a telemovie but someone somewhere thought that it could do well at the cinemas. Et voila, there you have it: 2015’s biggest box office smash so far.
You can get more information about the deal in Anak Dagang’s chat with Global Station’s executive producer, Adila Ramly from earlier in the year.
Suamiku, Encik Perfect 10! is a relationship drama based on the premise of faking a marriage.
College student Aleeya (Lisa Surihani) gets dumped by her boyfriend Syed Muzaffar (Syazwan Zulkifli) after she is pregnant with their child. She is thrown out of college and she bumps into Zarief (Aaron Aziz) at Heathrow Airport, who she forms a fake relationship with in order to stay out of trouble.
They start developing feelings for each other, as is natural with these sort of arrangements. Aleeya and Zarief then face a shitstorm of drama when Syed Muzaffar returns for the baby, and Zarief’s fiancée turns out to be a bit of a whore.
As mentioned earlier, Suamiku, Encik Perfect 10! made a lot of money and has probably cemented both of its stars as highly commercial Malaysian actors.
Another Suami, another novel adaptation. This series ran from 2014-2015 and is based on Syikin Zainal‘s novel of the same title.
In the series, Erica (Amyra Rosli) and Farish (Sharnaaz Ahmad) marry for the purpose of claiming Tengku Khaleeda’s inheritance. They are to do this for three years despite commitments to their respective lovers.
Predictably, they fall in love and must face deception, betrayal and other not-so-nice things.
What’s most interesting about Suamiku Encik Sotong is that the character of Farish is an effeminate man. This trait is often used against him in the show and its many promotional descriptions.
From the official Suamiku Encik Sotong Facebook page we are shown Erica’s inner dialogue: “Dah lah tak macho, pakai baju warna pink. Kalau bercakap tangan bukan main lentik lagi macam orang nak main mak yong.”
However, the fact that there is an effeminate straight man on screen makes for quite an interesting watch. Suamiku Encik Sotong shone on the fact that gender does not equal gender expression, and pushed this idea further into Malay pop culture.
The show ended its run in March and has a decent-sized fanbase of 25,000 supporters on Facebook.
This is Izzue Islam’s fourth appearance in our series if you’ve been paying attention. Why is Izzue Islam so popular? Is it his Malay-boy-next-door looks and light complexion? Or is he just a darn good television actor?
Back to Suami Sebelah Rumah: the show stars Izzue and Ayda Jebat in a story much like Suamiku, Encik Perfect 10! except simpler. It now goes without saying that this too is a novel adaptation.
Eryna is dumped by her fiance on the date of their marriage, so she gets Amar to be her stand-in husband. Amar, who has loved Eryna for a long time, agrees.
However, Eryna isn’t ready to share a house with Amar just yet, so he chooses to live right next door to her in an attempt to soften the woman’s heart.
Suami Sebelah Rumah took the Iris slot on TV3 (this means 6:30pm) and ran for a total of 20 episodes, concluding in April this year.
When we set out to take on this exercise, we weren’t satisfied on just picking shows that included specific words in their titles. As we discovered many television dramas and films with similar content, we started being more subjective. In the end, we based our selection on theme, plot, cast and title.
There are plenty of other shows we chose not to include due to time and labour constraints. Believe us when we say plenty. By our ever-growing and very loose definition of what constitutes suami/isteri programming, this could have been a five-part series at minimum.
This is also quite frankly a troubling notion. If so many shows tick so many of the same boxes, what does this say about the industry?
Despite saying this, we want readers to note that some of these shows and films have really brave subject matters.
Critics may accuse the subgenre of relying on similar themes and plot points, but we musn’t forget the fact that there is a fair amount of Malay female representation here. There are women with and without hijabs, there are women pregnant outside of wedlock and still capable of attaining a happy ending, and there are women who stage khalwat in order to secure a pregnancy.
We aren’t glorifying their actions, but we enjoy seeing all these different characters created for primetime TV and hope they transcend the suami/isteri sub-sub-subgenre. One day, the scales will tip and most of these women will finally stop suffering. Dia… Isteri Luar Biasa for instance is led by the manipulative but empowered Dewi Yusra, a character that could signify a change of wind in current television trends.
Whatever your pre-conception, these are still Malay stories with modern twists, told through characters that don’t pander to the image of the perfect Muslim.
Nobody’s perfect, guys. Let’s continue showing this on television.