Pulang is a biographical film of the history of Malaysia directed by Kabir Bakhtiar. It is an inspirational story of adventure and spirit, besides a wonderful yet an unfortunate love story between Othman and Thom. This love story begins in 1939, in Serkam between Othman who was a local fisherman falls in love with Thom, a girl who visits the kampung to take care of her grandmother. Both of them are very poor and their life more complicated because they found out that they unable to make living after Japanese invasions and World War 2 end.
Othman decided to be a sailor on British cargo ship to make more money and their live easier. Nonetheless, things dont go in his favour, and he has been away from his family for years whereas they wait for him. This shows even you love someone so much you still cannot fight your fate.
The film shows that in the present time, Thom is dying and asking his grandchild, Ahmad to look for her love one even if just his grave.
This scene reflects that she is missing her husband after years of not meeting each other. Ahmad agreed and his research about Othman revealed a lot of secrets. Thom once went to Hong Kong to find Othman but Othman was not there. Instead, he found Othmans bestfriend, Liam. Liam has been friend with Othman since Japan colonized Malaya. Even different culture and religion, they like sibling and willing to help each other no matter what condition. This is a good message to Malaysian that has many cultures, ethnics, and religions. Even we all are different, we need to respect and help each other to make sure our country is peaceful from colonisation. Liam helped Thom to pass her letter to Othman.
In 1966, Omar, their son went to meet Othman. He asked the reason his father never returned. Othman told what happened to his ship in 1953 at Pacific Ocean which have been the reason why he felt ashamed to return and he have no place anymore in Serkam. His ship has been destroyed and drowned due to bad storm. He was lucky that he have been saved by another boat. He lost all his money that he collected to bring back to his family in kampung. He felt bad but his friend convinced him that Thom is not a materialistic woman by saying Apa kau fikir dia fikir sangat kau balik berduit ke tidak. Asal kau selamat je. Dia mesti nak tahu asal kau selamat je. This rea lly showed that Thom is a good woman who is not materialistic and her love towards Othman was true and pure.
Ahmad managed to meet his grandfathers friend and he found out that he already died a long time ago. The plot twist was when his father, Omar was there on Othmans funeral day. He already knew that Othman died but he never told Thom. With some researches, Ahmad managed to know where Othmans grave is. He returned to Serkam immediately because Thom was in critical condition. He told the truth to her. He asked about the letter that Othman wrote before he died. Omar gave her the letter but she refused to read it. She was so upset with her husband action. He never return, never road letter before and neglected them. Without knowing the whole story and Othmans reasons, she threw the letter and everything about Othman. Her anger was more than her love towards Othman at that time. We can relate to this situation because no one would willingly to wait for someone without any confirmation on when they will come back. Omar took back the letter and kept it safely behind the frame. On the present time, Omar gave back the letter to her mom to make her understand Othmans situation. As Ahmad read it, they now knew that Othman have returned once but he misunderstood that Thom already married to another guy. He ran back to Liverpool and lived there until the rest of his life. Now, everyone knew the real story and the reason why they think Othman never returned.
This film is an emotional film and the director try to deliver the message that we cannot fight our fate. Even they love each other so much and even they willing to wait for decades, fate was not on their side. Their love was so pure that Thom accepted him although both of them were poor. In this era, this kind of purity might be hard to find.
By global standards, Pulang will be seen as inspiring story of adventure and bravery and also a beautiful yet heartbreaking love story. But some of the scenes and elements might be found as not acceptable to audience. The director depends on the films theme song to louden emotional message. But this way doesnt help and not work out as the audience presented with too many slow motion montages and scenes, mainly at the end of the story. In spite of the fault, most of the story works quite well with interesting cinematography.