Malaysian Gay-Themed Film a Box Office Success

Dalam Botol, Malaysia's first gay-themed film, about how one partner's sex change affects a gay relationship (both characters end up unhappy), has turned out to be a major hit, the Guardian reports:

Dalambotol Opening less than a week ago, Dalam Botol (In a Bottle), about a post-op transsexual who comes to realise that she may have been better off as a man, has already earned more than one million ringgit (£206,000) at Malaysian cinemas, easily recouping its production and marketing costs of 970,000 ringgit. Prior to filming, writer and producer Raja Azmi Raja Sulaiman had to submit details to the country's strict censorship board, which nevertheless gave its approval following a couple of amendments.

Malaysian films are not allowed to show support for gay lifestyles: the country still maintains a law against sodomy, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, though prosecutions are rare. Dalam Botol offers a non-explicit vision of gay romance, featuring heterosexual actors who hug but do not kiss. However Sulaiman told the Associated Press she believed the box office results "prove that Malaysian audiences can handle such movies, that they're more open and not so conservative any more." She added: "I hope it'll inspire more films that are meaningful and linked to the reality of people's lives."

Many in Malaysia's LGBT community do not approve of the film because it depicts the characters as unhappy. Said rights activist Pang Khee Teik, co-founder of the Malaysian sexual rights awareness group Sexuality Independence: "Many of us Malaysian gays, lesbians and transgenders have absolutely no regrets being who we are," 


  1. Strepsi says

    Interesting how society is moving so much faster than its institution. I hate the type of movie that shows how tragic being gay is, but overall if it humanizes us and evokes any emotion, it is good. We can’t judge by our standards, Malaysia is a rabidly conservative country. It’s a good 60 – 70 years behind, it’s as if “The Children’s Hour” or “Victim” are coming out today. But you know, one step at a time — and the young, connected people will I think put pressure on to speed up its evolution.

  2. Adam Primaeros says

    The thing is, in “(Anu) Dalam Botol” (lit. Genitals In The Bottle), the gay couple is shown to be in a rather happy relationship in flashbacks, prior to Ruby/Rubidin’s return from the surgical procedure.

    After the credits rolled, I thought that much of the awfulness of the film doesn’t come from them being homosexuals as much as the Ruby/Rubidin character not being able to work out his issues, and a poor economic situation putting undue stress on their relationship.

    I’m unsure if it was the director’s intent for the film to appear to negativize homosexual relationships to the layman, yet still hold up the idea that none of the bad stuff that happens actually comes from the homosexual relationship itself. (Not as much a Ruby/Rubidin

    While I did go into “…Dalam Botol” expecting another moralistic angsty victim flick, I think the film managed to be more complex than it seems.