When Altimet first watched OlaBola at the cinema, he was so proud of the film that he stood up at the end and applauded.
“I didn’t even do that for Star Wars,” the rapper shared. “I then bought tickets for other people to encourage them to go and watch the film.”
So it was an easy decision for Altimet when Puan Sri Tiara Jacquelina called him about collaborating with her for the stage production based on the inspiring sports drama. “I immediately said yes,” he confirmed.
The 38-year-old performer is tasked with writing rap numbers for OlaBola The Musical, which is set to open at Istana Budaya next February.
He will be working closely with Tiara – who is making her directorial debut – as well as composer Mia Palencia and writer Shamaine Othman on the project.
Palencia, who previously composed music for Mud: Our Story Of Kuala Lumpur, revealed that OlaBola The Musical would have at least 20 songs in total, with perhaps nine rap songs and the rest sung in the way of a typical musical. However, she added: “We’re still working out the mechanics, getting into the nitty-gritty of it. We’re looking at a couple of months, figuring out what works and what doesn’t.”
Meanwhile Shamaine will be filling in the dialogue between the songs, co-writing it with Tiara.
OlaBola tells the story of the country’s national football team, Harimau Malaya, and its journey to qualify for the 1980 Summer Olympics. The film was directed by Chiu Keng Guan and earned RM16.67mil at the box office last year, making it the third highest-grossing local movie of all time.
The stage adaptation, Shamaine said, would have the same essence as the film: “It’s a beloved story, which is why we want to ensure the message of hope in the film is translated to the stage production as well. While it’s the same story, it will be a different journey.”
Palencia agreed: “The way we are going to tell the story is going to be different because on stage, we can’t do close-ups. The songs will (be the tool to) bring out the emotions. We were also talking about how the film didn’t drive home how hard it was in the 1980s to be living in KL for an athlete.
Shamaine continued: “We’re trying to show that back in the 1980s, the football players had to hold jobs, as well as go for training and play for the country. Back then, it was a huge accomplishment when Malaysia made it to the Olympics.
“We are looking at the film as a source, and also doing our own research. And we found out from our research that athletes were only given RM5 a day as allowance.”
Since the production is still in the early stages, there is no information yet on the cast of the musical. What is certain however, is that it will be an almost all-male cast which is why hip-hop music makes most sense, said Palencia.
“Tiara approached me many months ago about this production. And we’ve been talking about what the sound was going to be like, what a football team would sound like. It’s a young team, a rebellious team, so it had to be a current sound. Tiara had the epiphany one day and said (hip-hop) is going to be the sound.”
As for teaching actors to rap, Altimet doesn’t see a problem.
“You teach them the same way you teach an actor to sing and dance, through practise. With enough practise, you can be good,” reasoned Altimet.
“The challenge (of introducing rap in musical) is to ensure the audience’s get the words which they will probably hear only once. Unlike listening to a CD, if you don’t hear a certain word you canre-listen. But for a musical, I have to figure how to get a story across to the audience whenever there is a rap part.”
Altimet, Palencia and Shamaine are looking forward to all the challenges OlaBola The Musical is going to bring.
“Tiara genuinely loves this story. I just hope I can translate the message of the film through music for the musical,” concluded Palencia.