Cube Art Stage & Performance last week hosted the premiere of Neeruza, a short film by Han Zalini which starred Sherry Ghazali, Arshad Adam, Anip Latip and Wawa Subri.
The final version of the film which screened had yet to be seen by its cast and crew prior to the event. According to the team, the invite-only screening was done in an attempt to gather feedback from friends in the industry on how they can improve in their future endeavours.
Neeruza tells the story of its titular character — a writer facing creative block — who travels to Penang to find inspiration but ends up literally chasing after a traveller she has a fling with. She then bumps into a prostitute in an alley named Azureen, who points out that the both of them aren’t that different when it comes down to the wire. This in turn changes Neeruza’s perspective and the way she approaches her work.
Sherry Ghazali, who plays Neeruza, is a popular face in the theatre scene. As one of the key people in Nam Ron‘s work circle (she is the administrator of Ayaq Hangat Studio), Sherry has had a decent amount of exposure to the performing arts as well as local cinema.
“Aku jaga kerja studio Nam Ron. One day masa kat studio, Han tanya, Sherry kau free tak?” Sherry noted during the question and answer session.
“Aku takde officially belajar acting. Tapi aku selalu dalam studio tengok Nam Ron buat workshop and training. Aku pernah sekali je belajar dengan Nam Ron and Ayam Fared.”
This is Sherry’s official screen debut (she insists that her appearance in the 1, 2 Jaga trailer doesn’t count) but she was previously in the Ayaq Hangat devised play, Hypokrites.
Neeruza also marks Han Zalini’s debut as a director on film. The Kolej Yayasan Melaka graduate was previously freelancing as a creative in local theatre and independent productions.
“Aku inspired buat filem ini masa lepak dengan Raja Mukhriz [director of local skinhead film Ophilia],” he explained.
“Aku tengok kegigihan dia nak buat Ophilia. Poster Ophilia dekat pawagam semua di-print oleh pelakon-pelakon filem itu sendiri.”
According to Han, Neeruza was about a writer who no longer wants to write love stories and is centered around the theme of self-conflict.
It was due to Han’s resourcefulness that the film happened at all. While discussing Neeruza‘s finances, Han lets us in on a secret: the team had no lighting budget. However, while filming he quickly came up with a solution to the issue.
“Aku suruh semua crew keluarkan iPhone. Kita guna enam biji iPhone untuk buat lighting masa shooting,” he revealed.
Han also clarified that the film was not based on the Modread song “Neeruza Osawa”. Despite that, the band had recorded a slower, piano-led version of the song especially for the film which features B7, and he hopes to include it in the DVD of the film.
The band is very supportive of the film, and they also approved of the casting of Sherry as the lead. According to Han, Sherry’s facial features aligned with their vision of Neeruza.
But why the name Neeruza?
“Neeruza satu nama fancy. Aku suka bermain dengan nama,” Han confessed.
“Bunyi dia dekat dengan [fashion brand] Zalora; nama Neeruza ini macam inspired by Zalora. Aku serious, bro!”
The team plans Neeruza to submit Neeruza to film festivals soon, and a DVD release will follow later in the year.