Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Songlap... a human trafficking story

Songlap means to steal away

the Poster:

the Trailer:

the Plot:
The movie is about two brothers: Am (Shaheizy Sam) and Ad (Syafie Naswip), who in the desperation of life in big metropolis KL; work in a human trafficking syndicate which takes in girls with unwanted pregnancies, takes care of them and sells their babies on the black market.

Am has resigned to their fate, scavenging for scraps and tough luck in order to survive. He resists any change because he thinks that this is the only way to survive in this world. He is obedient and yet could be sneaky if he could get away with it. Whatever crime that he did, one thing that he never do is desert his younger brother, Ad.

Ad, his younger brother on the other hand is desperate for change and more hopeful in life. He tries to enter a dancing competition to win the prize of RM50,000 in order to escape their pathetic fate, but somehow does not succeed in the competition. Other than Am, he has a friend, Razak (Izzue Islam), a mat pet (drug addict) who believes in him and is his sole companion. One morning, Razak dies of overdose and Ad's world started to unravel as he flees the scene.

As Ad met Hawa, who was in an unwanted pregnancy situation and was picked up by the syndicate, he recognised that Hawa is Razak's sister and he simply grabs Hawa's baby and her along to escape from the syndicate, regardless of what will happen.

the Review:
the storyline treats us as mature audiences who are able to put things together to obtain comprehension. the story is simple, yet with heavy concepts, murkier background and gritty realisation of pain, passion and how far in hell do people go to live their lives.

Ad represents the younger generation, idealistic, full of hope and bravery in doing what he thinks right. though with his limited upbringing, he tries to instill respect in his interaction with the prostitute he thought as his mother (Normah Damanhuri), using "saya" instead of "aku". it implies that though he was removed from the normal family institution, he knew that parents are the ones that he should show respect regardless of their way of living. and the scene where he hugs Am to beg him to go to Kuantan together was rather touching.

as for Am, he is sneaky and yet obedient, surviving day to day, doing what's in store for him in order to get paid. what he knew is to collect money and more money, regardless of any conscience. but i do suspect that he does have a conscience, only limited and reserved to babies, that instead of raising a child single handedly, what is better to do is to let go of the child for adoption where the child has better chance in life than the original mother can provide. this is one example of his acceptance of his fate: that his mother should have given up on him instead of trying to raise him and Ad together only to hurt him in the end.

the story reveals itself moment by moment, it does not preach nor need everything to be shown by glimpses of the past to let audiences know what had happened. by the agony of Am as he asks Hawa to let go of her baby, we got to know that his mother has tried to raise him herself only to beat him up when she's unable to stop him crying for food etc.

and i rather like the theme of survival of the fittest carried in this movie. Abang Mat (Hasnul Rahmat) was thought to be the biggest Fish in the pond as he preached at Am to not continue be the servant of Mama's Jason and follow him instead. his constant preening and belittling towards his assistant prove to be fatal as his assistant turns up to be a traitor in cahoots with Jason. at the end of the movie, it proves that this mantra serves to help Am survive and be freed from those who oppress him.

basically Am is a good brother who has his brother's best interest in mind all the time. the fact that though he at first belittled Ad's ambition to win RM50 thousand in a dance competition, still he did drop Ad at the competition and went in to watch him dance. and when the judge asked Ad about whether he's still a student or not and Ad answered "no", Am being his big brother does cringe and show some sort of regret about that. and he repeatedly asked Jason not to hurt Ad though his brother had repeatedly defied him by taking Hawa and her baby away with their shared money.

as for Hawa, she was silent in almost every scene but as she develops a bond with her baby, her voice seems to find sound again to protect her and the baby. we need not the scene where her father rapes her, it was told simply by Hawa's beseeching questions, "whose baby is this?"

it is a human trafficking story in its simplest sense. when a father bargained his daughter's future with his lust, when a mother bargained her body to gain money, when a man bargained his services/obedience for more money. plus the obvious prostitution and baby selling.

it's a damning reality that still happens if we care to spend time in the gutters to have a look at what was told in this film. but then, we will be bargaining our conscience as we walk away, achieving nothing.

i give this story 4.5 star for its simplicity in story telling a very heavy society problem. a must watch for those who want to learn a great story telling style.

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