Within the past 2 months along, Malaysians have been presented with 2 great local movies, Jagat and Ola Bola. In recent years, we have seen local production teams getting better and better at tackling serious topics, and it is something we can be proud of. I was thrilled by the prospect of watching both films with a bunch of good friends who could appreciate films of such genre. Last week, I went back to hometown for Chinese New Year celebration and was convinced by my friends to watch Ola Bola there despite my intention to watch the movie at a Dolby Atmos cinema back in KL. Perhaps all the hype and fanfare about the film had risen my expectations, I left the cinema with a bad taste in my mouth.
The catchy tag-line, ‘You Will Believe Again’ led me to believe that ‘Ola Bola’ would inspire love and patriotism. Instead, all I see was a mythology, a made up story that serves to feed the hungry fantasy of Malaysians of the past generation, still hanging on to past glories. Do not get me wrong. ‘Ola Bola’ is a great movie deserving the 8 million ticket sales in just 13 days. However, for a Malaysian who was born in the 80s, all I could see the movie as another inspiring movie that happens to have sports as its main theme, akin to movies like Moneyball and Coach Carter.
Our football era clearly has long gone. I grew up hearing my parent talking about how magnificent SuperMokh, Soh Chin Aun, and Santokh Singh were. They are now just some football legends Malaysia once had. Comparing to the current Malaysian squad that conceded 10 goals (to UAE) and 6 goals (to Palestine), the exploits seemed far-fetched. It is hard to believe that the Malaysian squad we see today is descended from the squad who once qualify for the Olympics. Our glory versus South Korean football squad that the film tried to portray is something that is just not convincing to me. There is definitely a disconnection between my generations and the Malaysia in the movie. Some of my friends even thought the fictional characters depicted in the movie exist in the past with the same name. The Malaysia now is nothing like the Malaysia inside, be it in football, inter-racial relationship and more. Maybe I am too pessimistic, but Ola Bola shown how much we have fallen behind rather than progressing.
The cynical me sees the tag-line, ‘You Will Believe Again’, as but a paradox, as I find it hard to believe that Malaysian football could be restored to its former glory. However, somewhere deep in my heart, the patriotic me still want to believe again…
Edited by Jiing Jiunn Tan