SINGAPORE - Do not try to out-Chris Rock Chris Rock. That's what local singer Taufik Batisah learnt last month when he was asked to voice Marty, the chatty, skittish zebra in the Madagascar animated films.
His Malay-speaking version of Marty will feature in a specially dubbed version of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, which will air on cable channel HBO on Hari Raya Puasa.
After employing Malaysian stars like Lisa Surihani and her husband, film director Yusry Abdul Halim, for a Malay language version of The Smurfs last year, HBO cast a wider net for regional personalities to take on the iconic Madagascar characters.
Lisa returns to voice sassy hippo Gloria, while local musician-host Najip Ali portrays zany King Julien. Malaysian singer Hafiz Suip is Alex the lion and hot Malaysian actor Fahrin Ahmad voices neurotic giraffe Melman.
"I didn't want to do Chris Rock in Malay. I didn't think it would be appropriate," Taufik, 31, told The New Paper on Tuesday before flying off to Kuala Lumpur for a press conference for the movie.
Even so, Taufik said he realised that Rock's signature high-pitched, rapid-fire talking is a defining characteristic of Marty's, and the film would feel different without it.
"I felt I needed to keep the energy that Chris gave for the character. Anything less than that would not match the animation that's been done," he said. So he had to try very hard to "force" a crazier, zanier version of himself out.
"It was a bit weird initially, but after a while I realised I just had to let myself go," he said.