Everything We Know About ‘Anwar: The Untold Story’, The Film On Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister

·4-min read

It’s safe to say that Malaysia’s 10th Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, has led a truly eventful life leading up to the 15th General Elections. Taking office after a tumultuous period in local politics that resulted in the nation’s first-ever hung elections, his story of ambition, resilience, and resistance that spans well over two decades has truly been nothing short of astounding.

And now, Malaysians will have an opportunity to step into his shoes and witness history through the eyes of the premier himself with the local debut of Anwar: The Untold Story in cinemas nationwide on 18 May, 2023.

Here are all the details about Anwar: The Untold Story

The plot

Anwar: The Untold Story chronicles some of the most infamous moments in Anwar’s political career between the years of 1993 to 1998, beginning with his appointment as Finance Minister under Tun Mahathir’s Cabinet to his eventual sacking and imprisonment from his first sodomy charge.

But most crucially, it also aims to offer Malaysians a deeper look beyond the cacophony of media headlines that swirled around the resistance icon at the time, especially with regards to Anwar’s time behind bars. According to Bernama, executive producer Zulkiflee Anwar Haque (most popularly known in local entertainment circles as Zunar) stresses that great lengths have been taken for the sake of accuracy by taking up stories recorded in legislation and conducting interviews with those involved with the events as they occurred.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah, Farid Kamil, Acha Septriasa
Image credit: faridkamilz/Instagram

While it may have premiered earlier this week at Dadi Cinema in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur with Anwar himself gracing the occasion, Zunar revealed that his intention to produce the motion picture began all the way back during the early days of the politician’s Reformasi movement.

This was further spurred along when talks with Indonesian director Viva Westi began 12 years ago on August 2011, as she recounted to Malaysiakini.

The cast

Set against a budget of RM10 million, the blockbuster features talents from both the Malaysian and Indonesian acting scene, with Alor Setar native Farid Kamil of Remp-It fame, taking on the role of Anwar himself. Actress Acha Septriasa, who hails from Jakarta, Indonesia, stars as Anwar’s wife and incumbent Bandar Tun Razak Member of Parliament, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail.

Image credit: septriasaacha/Instagram
Image credit: septriasaacha/Instagram

Additionally, audiences will also witness local actor Hasnul Rahmat take up the role as Malaysia’s fourth and seventh Prime Minister, Tun Mahathir Mohamad. Nurul Izzah, former Permatang Pauh Member of Parliament and daughter to Anwar and Wan Azizah, will be played by Indonesian actress Saskia Chadwich. While being a Malaysian story at heart, principal photography for the movie took place in both Indonesia and Malaysia.

In the case of portraying Anwar, Farid said “I met him [Anwar] two or three times before Parliament was dissolved, and he helped me a lot to understand the real situation of what was written in the script.” His commitment to the role went as far as taking up an entire month to learn how to raise his hand in the same way that Anwar did to replicate an iconic photograph of the political figurehead during his arrest in 1998.

The 42-year-old actor was even prepared to remain in Indonesia, should Anwar lose the 15th General Elections reported Free Malaysia Today.

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The reception so far

In a separate Bernama report, Anwar himself has heaped praise on the film despite finding it difficult to sit through its depictions of some of the most challenging periods that have characterised his life in politics. “I find it hard to comment as there are episodes that I’ve tried hard to forget because of the hurt and sadness. Azizah has gone through a lot, as have my children and friends,” he said.

Image credit: anwaribrahim/Twitter
Image credit: anwaribrahim/Twitter

The premier was also pleased with Farid’s portrayal, with his wife Wan Azizah hoping that the movie will help dispel negative perceptions of Anwar in the public consciousness.

Initial public reaction to the movie have been mixed, with some praising the filmmakers for shedding light on the Anwar-led resistance movement.

Others panned the movie’s mediocrity where script and character development was concerned.


When and where you can watch it

Anwar: The Untold Story premiered at Dadi Cinema in Pavilion Kuala Lumpur on 8 May, 2023. The movie will see a nationwide release across all major cinema operators on 18 May, 2023. It will also be shown in neighbouring Singapore as well as in Brunei.

Hero and feature image credits: anwaribrahim/Twitter, faridkamilz/Instagram

This story first appeared on Lifestyle Asia Kuala Lumpur