Malaysia’s King of Entertainment is Tan Sri P. Ramlee (22 March, 1929 – 29 May, 1973).
The brilliant actor, director and songwriter was instrumental in spurring the growth of indigenous Malaysian films and popular music, and his masterpieces played an important role in democratising and modernising feudalistic and superstitious indigenous society.
Since his death at the young age of 44 in 1973, the indigenous film and music industry, in both Malaysia and Singapore, has never been the same.
Ramlee was born Teuku Zakaria Teuku Nyak Puteh to Acehnese prince Teuku Nyak Puteh Teuku Karim and his Kedahan blue-blooded wife Che Mah Hussein at his grandmother's house (now known as the P. Ramlee House Museum) in Counter Hall Road (now renamed P. Ramlee Road), George Town, Penang.
As a child, Ramlee studied in Penang Free School, George Town’s oldest government school and he counted among his schoolmates former cabinet minister, Kelantan prince and Patani royal heir Tengku Ahmad Rithauddeen Tengku Ismail.
During his school days Ramlee was very active in sports, especially badminton and football.
He was married three times, first to Singaporean Bugis royal and actress Junaidah Daeng Harris, second to Perak-born actress Norizan Mohamad Noor and third to Singaporean singer-cum-actress of Sarawak and Brunei origin Puan Sri Salmah Ismail or Saloma.
Norizan, who was best known for her role in the 1980s film Esok Untuk Siapa [For Whom Is Tomorrow], was married to Sultan Yussuff Shah of Perak before he divorced her so that she could end up with the actor.
Norizan was the stepmother of Perak monarch Sultan Azlan Shah and before her death in 1992, she witnessed Ramlee’s only child Nasir (his child from Junaidah) receive the posthumous knighthood Tan Sri on his late father’s behalf from Azlan, who was then Malaysia’s ninth King.
Azlan gave Ramlee the Tan Sri title in 1990.
Ramlee's big break came on 1 June, 1948 when he was spotted by director B. S. Rajhans from Shaw Brothers Productions in Singapore [at that time Singapore was still part of British Malaysia, though administered as a separate British colony like Sabah, Brunei and Sarawak, while the 11 states of the Malaysian Peninsula were federated as Malaya].
He had then won a singing contest in George Town by performing jazzy romantic song Azizah, named for his first love who has yet to be known.
The director was impressed by Ramlee, and in 1949 he was cast in the film Nasib (Fate).
Seven years later, Ramlee directed his first film Penarik Beca (The Trishaw Man).
His other hit movies, both dramas and comedies, included the Bujang Lapuk (Crazy Single Men) series, Hang Tuah, Ibu Mertua Ku (My Mother In Law), Antara Dua Darjat (Love Beyond Walls), Anakku Sazali (Sazali My Son), Tiga Abdul (Three Abduls), Keluarga 69 (Family 69) and Ahmad Albab.
Besides working with Rajhans, Ramlee was also guided by director Datuk L. Krishnan.
In his 24-year career, Ramlee directed and starred in 60 films and wrote or sang more than 300 songs.
His films and songs also won many awards in the annual Asian Film Festivals.
His final film was Laksamana Do Re Mi (Do Re Mi The Warriors) in 1972 and his last song was Air Mata Di Kuala Lumpur (Tears In Kuala Lumpur) in 1973.
Ramlee died of a heart attack at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital on May 27, 1973 and was buried in the Ampang Road Muslim Cemetery beside his close friend and fellow film star A R Tompel [the father of comedian A R Badul and actor-director Adlin Aman Ramlie].
His third wife Saloma, who died in 1983, was buried in front of Ramlee and Tompel. She was previously married to Tompel [Saloma was the aunt of talented actress and producer Melissa Saila].
In 1986, in honour of his contributions to the Malaysian entertainment industry, the P. Ramlee Memorial Museum was set up in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, in the bungalow he owned prior to his death.
In 1982, Parry Road next to the Kuala Lumpur Petronas Twin Towers was renamed P. Ramlee Road in his honour.
A musical about Ramlee titled P. Ramlee - The Musical ... The Life, The Love And The Inspiration has just begun at the National Theatre of Kuala Lumpur in Tun Razak Road.
It runs from October 18 to November 3, 2007.
Produced by Datin Seri Tiara Jacquelina Eu Abdullah (formerly a model and actress, sometimes nicknamed Malaysia’s Brooke Shields for her eyebrows!) and directed by Adlin, it stars Sean Ghazi of Anna And The King fame as Ramlee, pop star and actress Liza Hanim as Saloma, Melissa as Norizan, jazz singer and ad jingle queen Raja Atilia Raja Haron [her mother is also a jazz star and ad jingle queen Salamiah Hassan] as Junaidah and pop queen Datuk Siti Nurhaliza Taruddin as the mysterious Azizah.
Adlin also wrote the lyrics for the musical’s songs, which were composed by Singaporean composer Dick Lee. Indonesian composer Erwin Gutawa is its music director.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Flags of China Taiwan (above) and China (below). From Flags Of The World.
The Republic Of China (ROC) celebrated National Day on Oct 10, 2007.
The ROC only covers the island of Taiwan and is called China Taiwan.
I recognise 2 Chinas, China Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) (capital Beijing).
The ROC was formed in 1911 while the PRC was formed in 1949.