Namewee’s long awaited plea for the release of his controversial film, Banglasia, has finally shown positive results. After half a decade, the ban on Banglasia has been lifted.
The film is about a Bangladeshi worker who failed to return home to marry his lover because his employer confiscated his passport. During his journey, he met an activist (played by Namewee) who is obsessed with ‘saving Malaysia’ from immigrants. The group ends up fighting the employer and the invasion of a fictional army.
The film was initially banned because it gave a negative perception of government agencies who handle citizenship issues. Justified with possible intent to stir controversy and doubt among the public, LPF (Malaysia Film Censorship Board) ruled that there were 31 scenes that needed reshooting.
Unfortunately, the reshoot was reported to be too costly. Then, Namewee tried to raise funds for the reshoot through Kickstarter but failed. Ultimately, the government decided to ban the film.
On the contrary, Banglasia was chosen to screen at the 2015 New York Asian Film Festival. Festival Director Goran Topalovic said the film focused on corruption and immigration issues in an entertaining and satirical manner, something that Americans may identify with.
Despite the struggle, the film finally premiered in Malaysia on February 28, 2019. It was reported that the film managed to collect RM 220,000 on its opening day. Therefore, Namewee broke his own personal record as his previous films, Nasi Lemak 2.0 and Hantu Gangster only collected RM175,000 and RM 188,000 respectively.
Subsequently, Namewee expressed his gratitude towards the new government for allowing local filmmakers to have better freedom in expressing their work.
Despite that, moviegoers gave mixed reactions towards the film. Some found it borderline entertaining, while others said the film is racist.
Banglasia currently has a user rating of 6.7 on IMDB with also indicate mixed reviews. Currently, the film is still showing in selected local cinemas, and its monetary performance has yet to be fully measured. Will Banglasia perform better than Nasi Lemak 2.0 or Hantu Gangster?