This Fictional Audio Series Is a Classic Whodunit With a Malaysian Twist
In the first episode of Dirty Datuk, we are introduced to Inspector Murugan and PI Hisham Sabtu, who are tasked with investigating the gruesome case of 'the decapitated Datuk', a corporate mogul who is found dead in the basement of his mansion. As the detectives work their way through a list of suspects, they get closer and closer to unravelling the disturbing truth behind the untimely death of 'Datuk H'.
Written by award-winning author Terence Toh and directed by acclaimed stage actor Abi Manyu, Dirty Datuk is the latest audio series by Zag Media, the first Malaysian-based company to focus on producing fictional audio series that broach issues like mental health, underrepresented communities, and climate change. Zag Media's first-ever fictional audio mini-series, the Malay-language psychological thriller Malpraktis Universiti, was released in July 2021 during Malaysia's lockdown period. Following that were two more flagship series: one on sleep meditation called Tidur and romance series Hi Sayang, a six-episode love story told entirely through voicemails.
In a period of just two months, Dirty Datuk was rehearsed, recorded and produced remotely by a fully Southeast Asian cast and crew, which includes seasoned actors from Malaysia's entertainment and theatre scene.
“The recording process was a challenge given that the actors hadn’t met in person before," said director Abi Manyu, who starred in the 2018 hit production of Ola Bola the Musical. "But this cast is extremely talented and together, we found elegant solutions to get that chemistry across. Besides that, we were maniacally thorough in post-production to inject vibrancy and authenticity into the story.”
The episodes, which range from nine to 14 minutes long, culminated in a finale released on November 22, titled, 'The Big Bang'.
"We wanted to create a diverse set of Malaysian characters no one had seen before in a serial format," adds executive producer Matthew Durai, who is also Zag Media's general manager. "There’s plenty of source material out there right now with respect to abuse of power by high profile individuals, so we wanted to tell a quirky story around that premise,"