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Sat, Oct 24, 2009
The Straits Times
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Khoo finds his Rose
by Boon Chan

After 1-1/2 years, film-maker Eric Khoo has finally found his Rose Chan.

But Malaysian model-actress Christy Yow, 23, who is slated to play the famous 1950s striptease dancer is going to have to wait another year before the cameras start rolling.

Khoo says filming on the biopic might start only at the end of next year.

The 44-year-old is instead busy on another project, an animated Japanese feature based on manga artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi's memoir A Drifting Life.

Yow is unfazed by the delay. She said: 'I have two film projects with Scorpio East in 2010, a comedy and a serious drama, so timing-wise, it is great. By the time I finish these two projects, I am all ready for Rose. This will definitely give me more time to prepare for the role.'

Khoo said of his leading lady: 'She's really good for someone who had not acted before. At her second audition, she just blew me away.'

As for whether Yow matched up to Chan's famous buxomy figure, he said: 'Her breasts are huge but her body is very skinny, so she has to put on more weight for the role.'

According to previous press reports, Yow fills out a generous 36C bra size.

Gaining weight could well be the easiest thing that Yow has to do, given that Chan was known for her erotic dance involving a live snake.

Yow was matter-of-fact about stripping for the big screen: 'I think the stripping scene is an essential part of the story and, professionally, I'm ready.'

The bigger hurdle could be the handling of snakes: 'I remember seeing snakes on the National Geographic channel and vowing never to go near them.'

Since landing the role, her friends have teased her by offering tips such as drinking more herbal snake soup and carrying handbags made from snake skin.

'Maybe I should take the advice and hope it works,' she said.

Her parents are 'pretty cool' about her daring role. In fact, she said her father was familiar with Chan: ''Of course I know her, I've watched her perform before,' he said. He was more worried that I would not be able to handle the role because her life was very pitiful and it's a very challenging role.'

Yow will have some time to hone her craft since Khoo will be starting work on an adaptation of Tatsumi's works today.

The 74-year-old graphic artist is regarded as the father of gekiga, a term he coined for the darker and more realistic form of manga he created in the late 1950s.

He was a huge influence when Khoo was writing and drawing comics in his early 20s. 'The more I think back, everything from Mee Pok Man to 12 Storeys has been influenced by him,' he added.

The film-maker was toying with the idea of an omnibus film based on Tatsumi's short stories when he came across the autobiographical A Drifting Life in Books Kinokuniya two months ago and decided to make a full-length animated feature instead.

He got in touch with Tatsumi and they met in Tokyo last Thursday: 'It was brilliant. There was some sort of connection between us and he gave his blessings to make the movie.'

The black-and-white, Japanese-language film will be a co-production between Khoo's Zhao Wei Films and local media production firm Infinite Frameworks with a tentative budget of US$2 million (S$2.8 million).

Multimedia artist Brian Gothong Tan will be the lead animator on the project.

The enthusiastic Khoo also wants Tatsumi to come to Singapore to meet all the people involved in the project.

The graphic artist found a wider audience in recent years after the Canadian publishing house Drawn & Quarterly translated his works into English.

Khoo said: 'I think this is his time and I would like to get this done within a year.'

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This article was first published in The Straits Times.

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