Tan Kee Yun
The New Paper
Jan 30, 2016
Local actor and comedian Suhaimi Yusof takes the cake when it comes to perfecting a single scene.
In Long Long Time Ago, Jack Neo's new nostalgic movie set in the rural kampung days of late-1960s Singapore, he plays a kind-hearted food seller, Osman, who has to jump into flood waters to save his drunk neighbour Ah Kun (Mark Lee) from a huge python.
And he did the jump a total of 24 times, said Suhaimi, 46, at the movie's press conference yesterday afternoon.
"For a fat man like me, it was definitely a memorable experience that I can share with my future grandchildren," said the jovial TV veteran.
"I've not worked out so much in my entire life. Now, I think I'm ready for Jack Neo's new movie Ah Boys To Ah Pui (Hokkien term for a fat person)," he joked.
"And while I was doing my jumps, Mark was busy keeping count at the side. He was the one who told me I jumped 24 times."
Long Long Time Ago, which opens here on Feb 4, follows long-suffering widow Zhao Di (Aileen Tan) as she struggles to provide for her children through poverty, torrential floods and the constant threat of gangsters.
Also, her brother Ah Kun views her Malay best friend Osman as an antagonist amid the 1969 racial riots.
It is only after Osman saves Ah Kun from the python that the two men finally clear up their misunderstanding.
Wrestling with a reptile while submerged chest-deep in murky waters (or as Suhaimi calls it, "teh tarik water") proved to be a challenge for both actors and director Neo.
The flood scene was filmed in Singapore in a specially-built 20m by 12m pool with a depth of 1.2m.
It was filled with water and mud and the rain was created by rain machines.
When asked if the python was real or fake, Lee, 47, stared at this reporter, his eyes widening. "Of course it's fake, lah," he exclaimed.
He added: "I remember it was a pretty tough scene to do. We filmed from evening, before the sun set, all the way to the next morning.
"My fingers and toes were all wrinkly by the end of the shoot."
Neo told The New Paper: "For that particular scene, we used a prop that looked like a snake.
"It was a combination of filming techniques and post-production special effects that made it look so convincing."
Long Long Time Ago also marks the on-screen reunion of Suhaimi and Lee, who last acted together more than five years ago as squabbling neighbours in Channel 5's hit sitcom Police & Thief.
And their chemistry is still very much intact.
"The two of us might look very different, but our brains are the same," said Suhaimi.
"Throw in Jack Neo and we make a crazy combination."
Lee agreed, saying in a separate interview: "Suhaimi and I took a bit of time to warm up because after all, we haven't starred opposite each other in a number of years.
"But once we settled into filming, the camaraderie came back.
"I've always believed that for comedians, it just takes one project to build up chemistry.
"Following that, the rapport will always be there."
He also makes no bones about the fact that Suhaimi, who weighs more than 100kg, has piled on the pounds over the years.
"I think his waistline must have gone from 37 inches during our Police & Thief days to 78 inches now," said Lee, clearly exaggerating.
"He really put on a lot of weight," said Lee.
"Every day I see him on the set (of Long Long Time Ago), he would tell me, 'very full, very full', like he had just eaten a heavy meal."
This article was first published on Jan 31, 2016.
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