Dr Mahathir coming to a screen nearby

Dr Mahathir coming to a screen nearby
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

KUALA LUMPUR - Already the most familiar public figure in Malaysia, Dr Mahathir Mohamad will see his career take a new turn in September when he appears as himself in a sci-fi thriller about Malay nationalism and the struggle for independence.

Malaysia's peppery former prime minister, who recently celebrated his 90th birthday, agreed to act in Kapsul after being approached by the film's producer, Amru Najmi Osman.

Although technically an unknown in the acting world, Mahathir's thespian skills proved to be impressive. "We only needed two-takes for each scene," Osman told the Nikkei Asian Review. "His expression and dialogue fitted nicely into the plot."

Kapsul's storyline involves a time capsule actually planted by Mahathir when he was prime minister as part of Vision 2020, his grand plan for Malaysian development. In the story, the capsule is stolen and the main character, Faizal Hussein, travels back to 1942 to recover it. As a time traveler, he witnesses the hardships of the Japanese occupation, and an important turning point in the struggle for independence.

Mahathir himself was a young man at that time. In his memoir, A Doctor in the House, he recounted how Japan's invasion of Malaya (as the country was known during British colonial times) awoke him to the fragility of Western dominion, and stimulated his desire to shake off foreign subjugation.

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