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Bui Lan Huong: ‘I was under pressure to play Khanh Ly’

Bui Lan Huong is under pressure to play the singer Khanh Ly – to show her inner softness with a rough and careless appearance.

Singer Bui Lan Huong transformed into singer Khanh Ly in a movie project Me and Trinh by director Phan Gia Nhat Linh, to be released in June. On this occasion, she talked about the filming process.

Singer Bui Lan Huong in Hanoi in May. Photo: Truong Gia Huy

Singer Bui Lan Huong in Hanoi in May. Photo: Truong Gia Huy

What do you think helped you – a singer who has never acted in a movie – to be cast as Khanh Ly?

– When casting, director Phan Gia Nhat Linh didn’t even know who I was. In life, Huong believes in the word “destiny”. I also came to this project because of fate, not with a purpose or learned acting before. Up until now, music is still my favorite field. Around that time, I was in Singapore studying for the last year and was contacted for casting. Participating in this film, I played a famous singer and musician Trinh Cong Son. That’s what prompted me to accept. This is also the first project I auditioned for. The casting sessions are far apart. Every time I return to my country to perform, I have time to meet the crew.

How did you research Khanh Ly’s character to play the role?

– Since childhood, I have heard and known a lot about Ms. Khanh Ly. When I took on the role, I read more autobiographies, biographies, and interviews. I also sent a letter to ask her directly about how to dress, do hair… to look like the old days. Khanh Ly also has a very special voice, different from the way I usually sing, so I have to study and practice a lot with musician Duc Tri. In the past, people used to sing in a white voice, expelling the air, and had a different way of positioning the sound and opening the mouth than it is today. I am not trying to imitate, but trying to express the musical colors of those years.

The most important thing is to read the script carefully to find the connection between the characters in the movie and in real life. This movie is not a documentary genre. I understand Khanh Ly’s biography does not mean that she can play this role. Movies follow the trend of artistic creation. So understanding both versions is another story.

I find the most similar to the character is the love of music. Ms. Khanh Ly has been singing with Mr. Son for many years, from difficult times to becoming a famous couple. I think I can sympathize with the character’s sacrifice for the music. On the other hand, I don’t have a strong personality like hers. My challenge is to show that bravado without feeling spoiled. The character has a soft, weak side inside that rough, strong and slightly careless exterior.

Trailer Em and Trinh, released June 17

Trailer “Em and Trinh”, released in theaters from June 17. Video: Galaxy

Playing a classic character in your first movie project, what pressure did you face?

– I was under a lot of pressure to participate in this project because just acting a little bit different from the character can cause reactions. However, I decided to act like Khanh Ly in real life, it is no longer a movie. I try to make the audience love the character in the movie. At that time, viewers can ignore the differences.

I am mentally prepared to accept opinions from both sides. I thought the audience would initially call Bui Lan Huong ugly. The way of makeup in the past was very different from the aesthetic taste of today. When filming, I had to completely shave my eyebrows so that the crew could re-draw them like the old days. The recording process is also lengthy and divided into several segments. During that time, every time I looked in the mirror, I was shocked. Every time I go to the show, I have to put on makeup, but it’s still not beautiful. I also did not expect most of the praise when the crew revealed the character design. I read many positive comments and feel extremely lucky and happy.

How do you research the “music love” between Trinh Cong Son and Khanh Ly when acting with Avin Lu?

– I understand that it is a pair of soulmates, the sentiment is more than love. Perhaps, they were very much in love with each other in music. Ms. Ly told me that sometimes two people spend hours together, without saying anything but still understanding. I feel that deeply and hope the audience can see the same thing on screen.

The filming process for me and Avin was extremely smooth. Both acted well, no ripples. We have many memories on the set. I believe in Avin’s Trinh Cong Son. When playing a celebrity, it is important for the audience to believe in that person. Personally, I think Avin has done this. As for me, I think I tried my best to fulfill the role.

Shaping the role of Khanh Ly by Bui Lan Huong.  Photo: Galaxy

Shaping the role of Khanh Ly by Bui Lan Huong. Image: Galaxy

Also a singer, In real life, what is your role model like?

– My other half must be a person who loves art, has a beautiful heart and is selfless. I think those are the most important virtues. If not, I don’t think I can stay with them for long. I myself am very difficult at work. If your partner is as strict as that, the relationship is likely to be strained. Therefore, I will probably find someone who loves art but is more tolerant than me.

I think love will come at the right time. I don’t like to have calculations and judgments in love affairs. Just keep your heart open and if there is a good, suitable person, you will be able to convince me.

What are your plans in the near future?

– This year, I really hope the film project will be successful and release a second album. Music products are also 80% complete. However, everything probably needs the right timing to avoid overlap. As for acting career, personally I I find filming too hard. I also love and admire everyone in the team. Later, if there is a script I like, I dare to accept the participation.

Bui Lan Huong was born in 1989 in Hanoi, known through Sing my Song 2018. She graduated from the Department of Chamber/Opera at the Vietnam National Academy of Music, then received a scholarship from the Faculty of Vocals and Music. Jazz performance at Lasalle College of the Arts, Singapore. She released an album fallen Angel With 12 songs with dream pop style in 2018, won the Dedication Award in the “New Artist of the Year” category. The singer returned home in June 2020, living and working in Ho Chi Minh City.

Dat Phan

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