Sense of Our Flavours: Ya Hua Bak Ku Teh 《本土味》之亚华肉骨茶
This is a docu-drama I did in 10 months ago, back in February 2013 (Yes, it was a loooooong wait for me). I got the role after doing a cameo in Director Qing Liang’s previous show (彤心絮语 Art Beats).
Using dramatic re-enactments to reconstruct the scenes of yester-years, Sense of Our Flavours is a fascinating documentary journey that takes you back in time to the days when our food pioneers behind some well-known brands such as Ya Kun Kaya Toast, Ya Hua Bak Ku Teh and Outram Fried Kway Tiao made histories and legacies with their creative food improvisations.
I was initially given the role of the younger sister, Yue Hua and Angel , the elder sister, but because my voice is deeper than Angel, the director decided to change and make me the elder sister instead.
It is not only a journey into the histories of some of our most famous cuisines, it is also a journey into the very soul and heart of Singapore.
Behind The Scenes
This was my first time doing a re-enactment of a life character, and acting in the sixties setting. It was an eye-opener, and I hope this will be fun for anyone reading this too! So here, I will be showing some of the on-set and behind-the-scenes photos for the “epic” scenes.
The Old School Pak-tor (Dating) Method
Zhang (Qing Liang), the man in green was the director for my episode. We were not given any lines before the filming, so whatever you hear in the clip were impromptu lines we said during the filming.
This was an interesting scene for me, I was supposed to be attracted to the guy (because of his colourful and attractive outfit). To act as a shy girl, yet opening “seducing” another guy is really not me. But it was a fun experience, (more fun for the crew though) as they had fun teasing me about it.
Does it look like I am trying to seduce an attached guy? LOL.
The Epic Father-Daughter Quarrel Scene
I burst out laughing when the film played my lousy dialect line out! Hey, director! I thought you said it will be muted? 🙁 So here, my “papa” was furious when he found me dating. The photo (taken awkwardly an hour upon arrival to Nongsa without my knowledge that it was for this purpose) was the proof that I’m with the boyfriend.
My poor “papa” had difficulty trying to be angry (I think he can’t bear to be angry as I’m too cute :P), and together with the dashing about that we need to go, it took us many takes before we got it right. I was speaking in dialect because “papa” is from Batam and could only converse in dialect. So no choice, in order to not burst out laughing when I reply him in different language, I decided to say out the lines in dialect (Teochew) to match and get into the mood for the tense atmosphere.
This short scene of me being sick actually had a story behind it. It was deleted because the scene didn’t fit the owners’ narration. P.S. I don’t think the sister got sick.
As the shop we hope to use was taken up by another filming team (Yes, there are different directors filming different episodes/story at the same time, using different area of the set), the director had to tweak the scenes a little.
From me being too poor to buy the daily necessities, it was changed to me being too poor to buy medicine for my illness. The shop owner was initially an extra from Batam, but as he was unable to act out the “stingy and angry” shop owner character that the director wanted, in the end, the director decided to step in and act it out himself!
Filming in progress: Asking for a delay in payment as I am broke!
And guess who saw my state of abjection? My sister! *horrified*
Working in a Bak Ku Teh shop with my sister
This was my second scene when I reach Batam, my first scene was the night Pak-tor (dating) scene with the boyfriend. This was an easy scene for me, as I just had to sit down and keep washing the dishes, but Angel had to walk to and fro. As this was her first time (acting), she had trouble with the camera placement (we call it 走位 in chinese).
Behind a 20 minutes clip, it actually took many people to complete a scene (especially those film at night!).
This was the scene where my sister told me about how an old man gave her a name-card and told her that he wanted her to go and work for his hotel.
Does it look like the director giving a scolding and Angel is very scared of him? Haha, the director was just trying to explain the emotions we are supposed to have at that time!
In this scene, I had to try to find out the recipe of cooking the Bak Ku Teh by observing how the boss cooked the soup subtly.
Sense of Our Flavors 《本土味》 Street Set and Props
Here’s some photos I took during my short filming project at Batam, Nongsa Point. It was constructed by the same set designer who did Serangoon Road and Little Nonya. Do you know Mata Mata was also filmed there to?
Here’s my “bedroom” the one where I slammed the door and the mirror dropped because I was too violent!
The Turning Point
This scene (where the sisters had to present their dishes to a group of ‘gastronome’) was filmed in Singapore instead of Batam, and I finally get to dress in something nice, because I have to look “presentable” in front of the businessman etc.
As my sister is the person manning the front (waitress) while I’m the main cook, my scene for this is mainly to hide behind and wait to see how the prestigious food reviewer find my cooking skills.
Well, I guess everyone know what the result is, if not, there won’t be any Ya Hua Bak Ku Teh around!
These are the few outfits I had for my role in Sense of Our flavours.
Working Partners on Set
I met Angel during Channel U’s Testube filming and we didn’t know we will be acting as sisters until a few days before the filming day! She had been a source of “irritation” by doing her signature “sister” voice. Ok, I’m just joking, and she’s just pretending to disturb me.
Eni, was our make up artist, the beautiful lady who went all the way to help me make sure my acne skin (back then) was concealed as much as possible (although I know it was still quite visible on some scenes). Well, that’s real proof how bad my skin was before I went Sylvia Skin Atelier, the salon that saved my skin.
Look, under harsh lightings, I need 4 make-up artist to work on my bad skin. 🙁
Here’s Pearline and my dear Director Zhang! I will remember how he always wanted us to stop him from getting angry.
Here’s a photo of Jim, the guy who lied to us about his age from the day we met, and continued lying until now. Freddy, an actor from Batam whom I think has an uncanny resemblance with the Ya Kun drawing.
Actors from other episodes…
Last but not least, the friendly extras from Batam…
DVD available for sale exclusively at CD-RAMA outlets!
The 10 episode Sense of Our Flavours DVD are now available for sale at CD-Rama outlets for $22.90. Do buy and support. If you’ve watched my clip above, do comment and give me some feedback, k? I know there are more room for improvement!