MCI and Tribal Worldwide create Malay telemovie to explain government initiatives

Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI) has partnered with Tribal Worldwide and filmmaker M. Raihan Halim, to produce Gunting, a telemovie starring Singapore Idol winner Taufik Batisah.

The telemovie pushes government initiatives and policies such as SMEs Go Digital, SkillsFuture and Professional Conversion Programmes. According to MCI, it also encourages Singaporeans to “seize new opportunities” in the digital economy, through skills mastery, lifelong learning, and a spirit to innovate and think global. The telemovie was produced by Halim, known for his work for Banting, Singapore’s first commercial Malay film since the 70s. It also features an original song titled “Untuk Kita (For Us)”, composed by Batisah himself.

Gunting, which means “scissors” or “to cut” in Malay, explores the estranged relationship between a father and his son. It tells the story of a young man, played by Batisah, who pursues his passion to become a hairstylist despite his father’s fierce objections. When his father, played by veteran actor J A Halim, fell ill and closed his barbershop, Batisah decided to put his career overseas on hold and return to Singapore.

Unwilling to let his father’s 40-year legacy disappear, Batisah and his childhood friend Hisyam, played by Hisyam Hamid, open a gentleman’s barbershop “Salihin & Sons”. The duo then work to turn it into a thriving global business. The show’s leads are supported by other acclaimed artistes such as Adlina Adil, Yuslina Yussof, Rahimah Rahim and Shane Mardjuki.

Minister for Communications and Information and Malay/Muslim affairs, Yaacob Ibrahim, also has a cameo role in the telemovie.

In a press statement, Ibrahim explained that explaining government initiatives such as the “SMEs Go Digital” programme through a storytelling format, has been part of the government’s continuous efforts to help Singaporeans understand policies better.

“This is the first time we are working with industry talents like Raihan Halim, Taufik Batisah and Hisyam Hamid to produce a Malay telemovie that not only entertains, but also shows how businesses and workers can tap on government schemes to thrive in the digital economy,” Ibrahim added.

Watch the trailer here:

This is not MCI's first move into telemovies. Just last year, it made a content push by collaborating with Royston Tan and Tribal Worldwide Singapore for the local director’s latest telemovie, “The Provision Shop”.

"The Provision Shop" explored the theme of social adjustment and the initial discomfort, latent angst and eventual joys of embracing diversity in multicultural Singapore.  MCI also collaborated with Mediacorp and Tribal Worldwide to reach out to members of the silver generation who communicate in dialect. The result was an info-educational drama series "Eat Already?" The info-drama also weaved in useful information to seniors on specific government schemes and subsidies such as Medishield Life, Pioneer Generation Package, CHAS and Silver Support.