Men to boys

Interviewing four of the eight actors of Goodbye Boys was a riot. Anyone walking past the editing suite at Red Communications, where we met, would think some raucous party was going on.

When told they look older on camera, Razif Hashim jokingly cried: “Oh no, I’ve failed!”

Playing at being 17 again was not easy.

“The most difficult thing was to have that immaturity going on,” said Razif, who can be seen in the new Rexona ads on TV, which are a sort of prequel to the film. “It was very different for me when I was 17. Experiences were what I held on to, not the psyche. To be rigid and follow rules was not what I was when I was a kid. For me, that was a good challenge.”

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 Jin (Jay Eng) fighting over a girl with Ivan (Razif Hashim).

The four – Razif, Farid Ramlee, Jay Eng and Nas-T (that’s his DJ moniker, his real name is “very long”) – said they bonded on the second day of production, doing lots of “boy stuff”.

“We were separated into two dorms, with four in each,” said Razif, a college student. “We ended up six or seven in one dorm, all sleeping on the floor or playing cards! It was a brotherly experience and it was good.”

The boys, said director Bernard Chauly, even drove their van driver crazy, who kept asking them “Why don’t you guys sleep or something?”

Said Farid, also a student: “When we were in our rooms and resting, we would talk about girlfriends and stuff. I was surprised that they were so sensitive! He (points to Nas, who plays the strong, silent leader Glenn) doesn’t look like a sensitive guy, but he is!”

Someone asked: “Who cried?”

To which someone else replied: “Er … no one!”

To which the whole room exploded into laughter.

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Leonard (David Eng, left) looks on as silent leader Glenn (Nas-T) watches the boys swim in a disused mining pool.

Said Nas: “When I got to know them, I thought, hey, I’m actually meeting myself.”

Added Eng, the youngest of the group, and who is doing his A Levels: “We all have so many similarities.”

“And some of us are really vain … no, all of us are vain!” Farid said with a laugh.

Not all of them have Scouts experience though. Nas’s grandfather was a scoutmaster and Nas learned a lot from him.

“So when I got the role, the silent leader, I based my character a lot on Arnold Schwarzenegger, all this macho leader stuff,” said Nas. To which everyone broke into laughter again.

But the experience on location was so real, it gave them more than they expected in terms of acting.

“It was like ‘I’m going to pretend to be in the jungle, and I’m going to get lost. No, wait, I am in the jungle!’” said Razif.

And all the stress and sweat you see on screen were real.

“The sweat especially!” said Razif. “At first, we started by spraying the actors with water. But after a while, we didn’t need that anymore! When people went like this (sniffs armpits), it is real!”

Some of them found similarities with the characters they played, while some did not.

Said Farid: “Aris and I have a lot in common. I used to have this best friend, who is like Jin (played by Eng). I used to follow him around until Form Five, when I ‘found my spine’. It is so spot-on that it was kind of scary at first.”

Said Eng: “My character is the only one who smokes, but in real life, it’s the exact opposite.”

But is he a “player” like his character Jin?

“No!” he laughed. “Not intentionally. A few years back, I was like Jin. I thought I had everything under control but actually, I did not. I did go through that stage in my life.”

For Nas, he had a best friend who was like Glenn, someone he always looked up to, and it was easy for him to find the nuances of the character.

So, is he a man of few words in real life?

Someone shouted: “It gets worse at night!”

Nas recounted a funny incident in Penang: “A guy who had read about the movie in a magazine walked up to me and said, ‘You know, I was a scout too.’ I told him, ‘And I was only acting.’”

Said Razif: “I think a lot of us forgot about school. Once you step out of school, you want to forget school. But later you realise, hey, I miss school.”

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