Selubung [Online Image]. (1992). Retrieved August 27, 2015 from http://sabrinafilm.blogspot.com/2011/11/selubung.html
The story background of Selubung took place in the midst of Middle East’s war where it told the story of a group of Malaysian youth who was about to finish their last year of study in Australia. Unfortunately, one of the main female protagonist, Mastura’s friends which is E.J. terminated her study suddenly and decided to become Brother Musa’s second wife. Although Mastura tried to convince E.J. not to withdraw from her study, E.J. still think that woman should be obedient to marriage. Mastura volunteered herself in Rescaid Malaysia to aid children and mothers around the world after she returned from abroad. E.J. was later returned back to Malaysia after the tragic incident of her baby killed by Hani, Brother Musa’s first bride. Mastura then worked together with E.J. at the Rescaid organization to help children especially in Lebanon. Mastura was later proposed by Kamal, head of company but she refused him as she found out that he was a married man. However, Kamal then explained to her that he has already divorced. During a nation-wide charity concert, an extremist anti-Rescaid placed a bomb in Rescaid office and this caused Mastura in coma. At the end, Mastura regained her conscious from the blessed of the butterflies which is a good luck charm predicted by her godfather and the charity concert was a huge success. The Malaysia government was also willingly helped the Lebanon by transferring provisions there. Moreover, Mastura recovered fully from the coma with Kamal accompanying by her side.
Selubung strongly reflects the Malaysia’s women identities during the 90s century which show distinct and revolutionized woman model during that period. The film portrayed different model of feminine during that social period and how the difficulty that has faced by woman with modernity and western values. In this film, Mastura represents the strong and modern woman identity through her characteristics. Mastura embraces the western values of thinking which is pursue her career and independent in proceeding tasks in everyday lives without depending on man. Mastura gained a great success in her career as an engineer and active in the social field by volunteering herself in the Rescaid organization to help children in Lebanon. Her active contribution in the Rescaid shows her tough personality and courageous to give aid even across the international boundaries especially when she made decision on sending provisions to Lebanon without any fear. Despite, Mastura also proved her capabilities in handling problem rationally and radically which not even slightly be inferior to man. She calmly gave instruction to the security when the lift in Rescaid office failed to function. She was able to manage to solve this problem without the help of man; this helped establish her standing ground firm in the new society of independent feminine portrait.
Mastura. (1992) [Image, screen capture]
Strongly influenced by the western values, Mastura’s outlook was different from other typical traditional Malaysia woman where they must wear tudung yet Mastura did not obey to it and instead wore dress. However, Mastura still practiced her Islam value and did not abandon the root of their religion. Mastura believed more on Islam’s values during the incident of bombing and causing her in coma state. Her godfather from her hometown, Terengganu mentioned to her before that butterfly would bring good luck to her and his prediction was correct as Mastura regained consciousness thanks to the heavenly blessed of butterflies all over her ward and Dr.Sadar and her godfather’s prayer. Mastura also stick to her traditional principle by refusing Kamal, the Managing Director’s proposal after she found out that he was a married man and rejected the concept of polygamy. Unlike E.J., she did not lose herself to masculinity and traditional woman’s practice which is obedient to marriage.
E.J. (before) (1992). [Image,screen capture]
In contrast to Mastura, E.J. was representing a traditional woman figure which shows dependent, weak, and submissive characteristics. E.J. holds strong belief in the essential Islamic and submissive to the instruction of Brother Musa. E.J. also willingly withdraw from her study in order to marry to Brother Musa as she believed that marry will do her good. She was cognitively influenced by the teaching of Brother Musa where the way to conquer the temptation is to marry a person with a righteous path so one can go to heaven as well. This shows her conventional thinking of woman’s position should be below man and the education level should not be higher than them as well. Yet, her afterlife marriage was a tragic after Hani killed her baby due to her mental illness. Since then, E.J. realized from her mistakes and she later joined the Rescaid as well, together with Mastura they helped the children from Lebanon by organizing the charity concert. Since E.J. joined the Rescaid Malaysia, she was no longer seen wearing tudung but only wrapped her head with a scarf. This leads the audience to realize that E.J. was not restricted to Islamic rule and she decided to restart a new life.
E.J. (after) (1992). [Image, screen capture]
Another distinct woman figure portrayed by one of the characters in Selubung is Hani. Hani played a unique characteristics in the film though she also shared the same thinking as E.J. at the beginning where they believed that Brother Musa is the right person and they should marry him to reach heaven one step closer. Through Hani’s outlook design, audiences would be well aware about the psycho status Hani was into. Her thrilling emotions and disorientation behavior was delivered through the story. For example, Hani warned Mastura not to mix with Zek as he has the mind of Satan. Hani also very jealous of E.J. and this caused her to commit murder to E.J.’s baby. Her performance highlighted when she crouched in the corner and repeating to herself the phrase “I didn’t do it…”. This meanwhile enhances the audience’s belief that she was in severe mental illness.
Hani (1992). [Image, screen capture]
The character development of feminine figure in Selubung certainly was exclusive and interesting with each character’s told a different background story from their different beliefs. Not only that audiences could pondered on the issues that happened during that period but also questioned the society and Islamic restriction over the people. Out of three female characters, Mastura proved to lead a better future than the other two as she did not lose herself to masculinity and embraces the western value of becoming independent in choosing her own path. Selubung definitely was a film for you to consider on the Malaysia’s woman identity and the Islamic beliefs that influenced it.
Tan,K. (2011, November 15). Shuhaimi Baba | Selubung 1992. Retrieved August 27, 2015, from http://kathysfilmjournal.blogspot.com/2011/11/shuhaimi-baba-selubung-1992.html
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