The woman behind ‘Opis’

Lyna Mohammad

While one may think that a producer simply sits back and carries out administrative matters, in reality that is hardly the case. There is more to it, especially when producing dramas or sitcoms, with the latter being the more challenging of the two.

Sitcoms involve writing jokes that seamlessly integrate with the action, where the cast needs to constantly be humourous and the characters and scenes be constantly funny.

Local producer Hajah Maridiah binti Haji A Tuah said unlike working on a drama production which requires a single camera operation, the production of sitcoms requires multi-camera work. In taking up the responsibility to produce sitcoms, she is willing to learn.

A good script and a talented line-up of actors are the key to producing good TV dramas, said the producer attached to national broadcaster, Radio Television Brunei (RTB).

Sharing her experience and knowledge during a recent training session for the cast of the Sitcom Opis under the production of RTB, she said sitcoms are not something new and, as a producer, she likes to produce different genres of drama.

“Sitcoms are clippings for situational comedy and the comedy genre uses are spontaneous and instant action and dialogues. The casting criteria requires one who is able to bring up the character naturally in a humorous manner.”

With over 23 years of production background, her stint in producing dramas is still fresh. She has produced several genres in the past seven years, though they are more towards romance.

Cast of ‘Opis’ during the training. PHOTO: LYNA MOHAMAD

Hence, this sitcom will be a testament of her producer role as it is more challenging in diversifying her capabilities.

Hajah Maridiah finds satisfaction in the dramas she had produced, especially those that catch the viewer’s attention with her recent one being the musical drama Sampai Syurga aired on RTB as one of the Hari Raya programmes. It received encouraging feedback from viewers, and the cast became known to the community and gained a string of fans.

For Opis, Hajah Maridiah shared the same hopes with the scriptwriter, which is to successfully deliver a message to the viewers and give them an understanding that playing a role in a sitcom is not something that just anyone can do.

On this latest sitcom, she said the training and shooting was supposed to take place earlier this year but was delayed due to the coronavirus outbreak and had to be put on hold until this month.

It tells a story in the modern concept of office life, depicting multiple characters and attitudes in the office, many of which are commonly seen at any workplace and are closely related to people’s character.

Opis highlights the resolving of present issues or surfacing ones and portrays the attitude of some individuals who always take advantage of fellow colleagues’ weakness or honesty, while at the same time raising lessons in dealing with problems.

Scriptwriter Sal Halim Jamal tries to deliver the message by providing a comparison in office affairs, which is hoped to be an eye and mind opener to viewers to practice the positive values that are highlighted, how to practice good leadership and to observe and evaluate an organisation.

Among the main cast of the 15-episode sitcom are rising local artiste/comedian Tauffek Ilyas along with Afiq Wafi, Amoy Itzkimmy, Masita Tamil and Mumu Harshah. Each episode will also feature different guests playing a variety of roles to enliven the sitcom.

The scriptwriter generated ideas from her experience and observations in writing the script, to ensure no sensitivities arise in the dialogue or characters.

Having vast knowledge and experience in scriptwriting, producing and at times as a cast member, Sal Halim among her achievements managed to receive high ratings for her script in the dramas, Hijab Sofea 1 and Hijab Sofea 2.

The scriptwriter advised that it is important to choose actors who are comfortable with the characters and for the scriptwriter and director to be on the same wavelength to acquire a good story.

She also said Hajah Maridiah is one of the local producers that she has always worked well with adding that it is a privilege to have her piece produced by her.