‘Aku Terima Nikahnya’ is a Malaysian film released sometime in 2012, so it’s not exactly the latest of films. Featuring two fairly popular actors, Nora Danish and Adi Putra. Directed by Eyra Rahman, and produced by David Teoh, it is quite clear that the venture is to be seen as a mainstream effort to make money for the film production juggernaut that is Metrowealth. Since then, the director and Nora Danish have gone on to make two more films, ‘Dua Khalimah’ and ‘Bencinta’, and it appears to be a budding director-muse relationship that is working fairly well.
The story is of Arlisa, played by Nora, a wife who struggles to maintain a healthy and working relationship with her husband, Johan (Adi Putra), after he had what is identified in the film as selective amnesia. They had a very loving marriage and relationship prior to an accident, but that particular incident caused him to lose all memory of her in his life. On the most technical of levels, then, it is the story of a wife who is trying to maintain something that is very abstract to begin with (the concept of love), but when this abstract is not remembered, it is only then that the challenge truly presents itself. An interesting complication appears when Johan seems more attracted to Arlisa’s friend Suriya (Mon Ryanti), though this particular twist didn’t seem to be twisted fully.
To begin with, I was somewhat intrigued by the film’s premise. Within religious and even more secular contexts, the idea of a marriage is one of a bond that is remembered and represented through a number of different methods, but ultimately, it is the bond between the two people at the heart of matters of the heart that is the most important. Worldly ways of proving love (or its lack) matters a lot less compared to this. In a more Islamic context, for example, the words uttered by a husband to his wife, with the intent of divorcing her (talak), is more than enough to actually effect a divorce. What comes after is merely procedural, with the courts rubber-stamping what may or may not have been said in the heat of the moment. The point I’m making here is that such things are very seriously taken and believed in.
I mention Islam above, because in some very minor respects, this could have been a film that would have explored some very interesting issue in a very specific way. There was a scene in the film between Arlisa and her mother. By this stage, even though Johan had recovered well enough to return home, he does not know who Arlisa is, and is naturally reticent to truly believe that he is indeed her husband. It’s almost as if his heart underwent some sort of selective feeling amnesia as well, with all feelings for her removed (how can you love someone you can’t remember?). As such, Arlisa is not being ‘serviced’ by her husband as she may want, and her mother pointed out that a failure on the part of the husband is, in an Islamic context, grounds for divorce. It is what is known as fasakh, which is the canceling of the solemnisation of the union, and it can be invoked under other circumstances as well, but in this case, I do think that there is some logic as to how it could play out here.
I watched the film with great focus from that moment on, but beyond those few moments, the film fails to build on that small premise/promise. I believe that would have made this film more unique, and somewhat qualify it as an Islamic film. The actors and actresses may not be sporting kupiahs or tudungs, but I do believe that the story of any film is far more important in determining what kind of category and genre it should be accorded to. This is, of course, a subjective perspective and opinion, but in that respect it had the potential to explore a part of a story I believe have yet to be fully and critically looked at within the context of mainstream Malaysian cinema.
Unfortunately, I regret to inform you, dear reader, that the rest of the film plays out in a fairly conventional fashion, and it is not a fashion that is worth repeating beyond eye-gouging television fares. For example, the manipulation of non-diegetic music as the soundtrack was generic at best, and annoying at worst, simply because the film’s makers, whether it’s the director Eyra Rahman or the producer David Teoh, believed that continuous and non-stop music is the way to go. It is not, for more silent scenes, I believe, could have helped to build, maintain and develop some of the relationship a bit more effectively, I feel. There was a moment later in the film when the non-diegetic music mimicked a beating heart, supporting the events in that particular scene, but beyond that, I fail to detect an intelligent enough use of sound and music.
The acting does not help, either; scenes of Arlisa falling from a boat drew laughter from my class and I, but I was laughing because it was very clear that she did not fall from the boat; rather, she jumped from it. We could argue that the shot taken had to be done that way because actually simulating the scene in a more realistic way is potentially very dangerous to someone considered to be very marketable. I do not in any way wish for Nora Danish to injure herself, and perhaps a more experienced stunt team, allied by cleverer camera positioning and editing, would have made the whole thing more convincing, but whatever it is, the end result made me laugh when I really shouldn’t.
That’s not a good sign.
There are many other things that do not satisfy me (though not in the same way Johan didn’t satisfy Arlisa), such as the manipulation of the timeline (the flashback revealed how easy it was to get Arlisa to say yes, which may not be a particularly desirable character development; a more linear arrangement of the same scenes may have been more effective), but I leave you with this.
Recently, I waited in a medical centre’s reception area with my sister, and as we were waiting, the film came on the TV in the reception waiting area. “I saw this in class last week,” I told her. “Yeah,” she said, then paused. “Have you seen ‘The Vow’?” “The one with Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams?” “Yeah,” she confirmed, and I duly confirmed that I haven’t. “It’s the same story.” I was surprised, though I probably should not have been; I had drawn closer correlations to ’50 First Dates’, but didn’t think of much else beyond that.
I then Googled the film, and here, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the synopsis taken from the film’s IMDB page: “A car accident puts Paige in a coma, and when she wakes up with severe memory loss, her husband Leo works to win her heart again.”
That’s not a good sign, but that’s all I will say about it. After all, you can’t judge something you haven’t seen, nor love something you can’t remember…or can you?
Fikri quickly realises this film had nothing to do with the novel of the same name.
Featured image credit: Ring Review