BAU: ‘Rajah’, the upcoming Hollywood feature film on the first White Rajah of Sarawak, Sir James Brooke, will promote the beauty of the state to the world.
In stating this, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said shooting of the film had taken place in several areas here including Siniawan, Fairy Caves and Wind Caves.
“The filming of ‘Rajah’ has gone on for the past one month where besides the various places of attraction in Bau, the film was also shot at Sarawak Cultural Village and Camp Permai in Santubong,” he told reporters after visiting the set of ‘Rajah’ at Siniawan Old Heritage Town, here yesterday.
‘Rajah’ stars famed Hollywood actors Jonathan Rhys Meyers in the titular role as well as Dominic Monaghan as Colonel Arthur Crookshank.
Abdul Karim said the film was based on Brooke’s life as he arrived in Borneo in 1839 in search of adventure and fortune and later came to be known as the ‘White Rajah’.
“The movie is also being spiced up with a few other things such as fantasy and romance to make it more suitable for commercial viewing,” he added.
Abdul Karim expressed his hope to see the film become a blockbuster success upon its release in cinemas worldwide.
“We hope that when people see the film, it becomes an attraction whereby the scenes where the film was shot show the beauty of Sarawak.
“With all these locations being used as the shooting site, it will arouse movie lovers to see that this is a beautiful place and that is part of our tourism effort,” he expressed.
Meanwhile, the film’s producer Rob Allyn said filming was currently running on a tight schedule as he hoped to complete the film in time for next year’s Cannes Film Festival in May.
“We face quite a number of challenges in this film in a sense where we have everything that Hollywood hates.
“It is filmed a lot on water; we have distant locations, action, fire and period films, so every single thing has to be built well enough because it has to withstand the weather such as rain, or in case floodwaters rise.
“We did have some issue with rain and lost some days to rain so we pushed the production (back) an extra week,” he remarked.
Despite the challenges, Allyn said locals who were involved in the film had been very professional and efficient.
“We have many Sarawakians in our crew and Sarawakians to provide us with logistics from hotel, transport and catering.
“Many of the leadership of our crew and even some of the cast are Sarawakians, including 600 to 800 of extras in the film.
“So there have been challenges, but the government and people of Sarawak have been so great about helping us with these challenges that we’re managing to overcome them all.”
During the visit, Abdul Karim and his wife Datin Zuraini Abdul Jabbar were given a guided tour of the film set by Allyn, including of Brooke’s residence.
Also present were Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture permanent secretary Hii Chang Kee, Serembu assemblyman Miro Simuh, Sarawak Tourism Board chief executive officer Sharzede Salleh Askor and Brooke Heritage Trust co-founder Jason Brooke.