Presented for free, Asmara Songsang (Abnormal Desire) is receiving backing from the government in the months leading up to elections in the strongly Muslim country. Prominent Malaysian film and television stars are among the cast, which includes Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan, Julia Ziegler, Kamal Adli, Radhi Khalid, Razak Ahmad, Najwa P. Ramlee and Abby Rossidi.
Penned by 73-year-old director and screenwriter Rahman Adam, who has characterized homosexuality as something that could spread across the country like a virus, the musical centers on three LGBT friends who party, use drugs and engage in casual sex while recruiting young people to become part of their group.
The friends incur the wrath of their religious neighbors who seek to re-introduce them to the teachings of Islam. The three individuals who do not change are ultimately killed in a lightning storm, while those who repent are spared. The Papa Roach song "Last Resort" is featured in the production.
According to reviews, the musical concludes with a passage about the dangers of homosexuality and a pro-Malaysia song that features cast members waving the national flag. It launched its tour in at the Palace of Culture in Kuala Lumpur in early March. A film of Asmara Songsang (Abnormal Desire) is also in the works.
The work was penned to educate Malaysian students and their parents of "the bad things about LGBT," according to director-writer Adam in a statement for the Guardian. He continued, "Nowadays in Malaysia you read so many things in newspaper articles or write-ups about LGBT … because [LGBT] are going into schools and influencing the children. Children need to recognise that men are for women, and women are for men. They [LGBT] are all out to have homosexual and lesbian sex, and although right now it is not so serious [in Malaysia], we need to act, to do something, to say something, to say that this is bad and not to follow it." While Malaysia has a history of anti-gay views, some have criticized the musical for its one-sided view of LGBT life.
Adam responded, "I just say, 'This is their world.' I didn't do academic research, because I don't intend to create a war against them. My job is to write a story and direct a play. That is all. If anyone said I tried to create hateful feelings, then I say no, I didn't do that at all. I always do good things."