A man who ages once in four years and spends his whole life waiting for his true love, Lily. Budi was born on Feb 29 in 1896 to proud parents who wished only for their son to be healthy and blessed with a long life. He loses his parents during the war when the Japanese invade Tanah Melayu in 1941, following which he finds refuge at an orphanage, "Rumah Bakti", and meets Razak, who becomes his best of friend. In 1957, Budi meets Lily for the first time and falls in love with her. They become friends for a couple of years before Lily decides to run away when she is about to be married to Alex, the son of a close family friend. Budi spends the next 40 years looking for Lily. Catch the development of Malaysia on film - from the days of the British colonisation, Japanese invasion, Independence and other events that have contributed to Malaysia being the thriving nation it is today. Written by
Dr. Shireen M. Hashim
A singing Forrest Gump in Malaysia's first 3D movie.
A singing Forrest Gump in Malaysia's first 3D movie
Interracial romance transcends time
29 FEBRUARI is a musical version of Forrest Gump (1994), which, if you may remember, takes Tom Hanks through the tumultuous 1960s and 1970s in the US. The latter personalized Forrest's experiences in the context of American history.
The former, however, gets lead character Budi (Remi Ishak) to sing his way through history. The film is also an excuse to show Budi in the hairstyles and clothes of the periods he lives through.
Budi even gets to do a Forrest. Director Edry Abdul Halim, of KRU fame, shows Budi shaking hands with former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on television. Forrest did the same with former president John F. Kennedy.
Budi is born on Feb 29, and in the film, he ages only a year for every leap year. This means that he gets to live through British colonialism, the Japanese invasion of Malaya, the May 13 racial riots and the launch of Malaysia's first car in the 1980s.
He grows up in an orphanage after his parents were killed by the Japanese during the war. His best friend is Razak (Izzul Islam), who is blind.
They are among the thousands who attended the declaration of independence on Aug 31, 1957, and later, outside Stadium Merdeka, Budi gets to meet Lily (Jojo Goh) after retrieving her handbag from a snatch thief. It's nice to know that some things have not changed in Malaysia.
The interracial romance blossoms, even to the extent of them singing their hearts out at the Lake Gardens.
But lo and behold, what is an interracial romance without one parent vehemently protesting against it? Thus, you have Lily's dad putting his foot down and rejecting Budi's desire to marry his daughter.
Many things happen in the intervening years, including Budi smoking packs of cigarettes and developing an unflattering hairdo.
Needless to say, Budi and Lily are reunited in 2012, but the latter is in her 70s and on her deathbed.
Our hero Budi realizes only now that he's hasn't aged much and that he pretty much retains his good looks. Him cuddling up with the aged Lily on her bed is touching, but is also reminiscent of Christopher Lambert's character doing the same with his wife in Highlander (1986).
This is where the movie falters, that is, keeping Budi oblivious of his anti-aging prowess until he sees Lily. I know this is a fantasy flick, but this part is just hard to swallow. How is it that no one ever mentioned his youthful looks?
29 Februari is not just about interracial romance or that love will overcome everything. It's also about encouraging poor teens to develop an entrepreneurial spirit, which is something what Dr Mahathir would have been proud of.
Budi says he doesn't have a head for business, but the movie shows him gradually developing his business acumen till the point that he owns a floral shop.
Forrest's most famous line is: "My momma always said, 'life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get'."
For Malaysian and Singaporean viewers, however, one bite of the chocolate tastes a bit like those in other boxes.
** Movie Magic With Jeff Lee (blogspot, Facebook and Twitter)
3 of 5 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?