Writer of Vice Ganda hits to helm film
MANILA — Over a decade since his acting debut in “May Bukas Pa,” Zaijian Jaranilla today remains to many people the iconic Santino, the boy who helps change lives through his unique relationship with “Bro.”
But Jaranilla, now 19, hopes that will soon change, as he essays his first lead role in a movie in the upcoming “Boyette: Not a Girl Yet” from Star Cinema.
In the coming-of-age comedy, Jaranilla plays the titular character, a college freshman whose journey of self-discovery brings him on a literal “wacky” adventure.
“Gusto ko maalis ‘yung image ko dati na Santino na kinapitan ng tao,” Jaranilla told ABS-CBN News. “Gusto ko makita rin ng tao na kaya ko rin gumawa ng ibang role. Gusto ko rin siyempre na tsina-challenge ang sarili ko.”
“Hindi ako habambuhay na si Santino. Gusto ko rin, ‘Ang galing nito as Boyette!’ Iyon po ‘yung gusto ko ma-achieve.”
Helming “Boyette” as his directorial debut is Jumbo Albano, writer of the blockbuster Vice Ganda starrers “Gandarapiddo” and “The Mall, The Merrier.”
According Albano, Jaranilla was the first choice to play Boyette as far back as its brainstorming stage. For the filmmaker, Jaranilla’s tested acting over the past decade was a big factor in his casting.
“Si Zaijian kasi, at a very young age, may emotional maturity siya na niri-require din ng character. Perfect talaga si Zaijian , ta’s hindi pa natin siya nakikitang mag-bakla, mag-comedy. Siya talaga!” he said.
Joining Jaranilla in the cast are Maris Racal and Iñigo Pascual, Boyette’s college friends who are also instrumental in his coming to terms with his identity.
“Hindi lang siya about kay Boyette,” Jaranilla said. “Sobrang daming layers ng kuwento. Meron din siyang mga kaibigan, family. It’s about love, friendship, acceptance, and forgiveness.”
Freedom, too, is a key theme in the film, according to Albano, who considers the project a personal one as it draws inspiration from his own struggles.
“At some point ng buhay ko, feeling ko nakakulong ako, tapos akala ko iyon lang ang buhay ko,” he said. “Pero noong malaya ako, ang ganda pala ng mundo, ang colorful, ang saya. Kaya sinabi ko sa sarili ko, noong time na ‘yun na naging malaya ako, ‘Hindi ako titigil magkuwento.’ Ma-gi-gets niyo rin ‘yun sa pelikula.”
Greenlit in early 2020, “Boyette” completed its script during the initial coronavirus quarantine, and started production when eased lockdown measures were implemented.
“Limitado man ‘yung galaw namin, we have to really deliver,” Albano said, referring to the new-normal protocol. “I’m proud to say na ‘yung fear, ‘yung anxiety, ‘yung pressure na naramdaman namin before the shoot, napalitan ng happiness.”
“Parang walang pandemya na nangyari, ang kulay-kulay, parang it was shot pre-COVID… Ito ang kailangan ng mga tao ngayon, kailangan nila maging masaya.”
“Boyette: Not a Girl Yet” will be available on KTX.ph, iWant TFC, Sky Cable, and Cignal, as cinemas remain shuttered due to the pandemic. Its premiere date has yet to be announced.