Friday, December 28, 2007

Youssou N'Dour's Heavenly Voice

From time to time, I will post a video or song that I find interesting. This is a video of a live performance by two of my favourite singers - Peter Gabriel and Youssou N'Dour. Give it a try.

Peter Gabriel & Youssou N'Dour In Your Eyes

[via FoxyTunes / Youssou N'Dour]

And down memory lane - this timeless piece which is very special to me.

Ella sings

[via FoxyTunes / Ella Fitzgerald]

Sunday, December 23, 2007


In my earlier posts, I mentioned that I was a handful. So when my parents were trying to resettle themselves in Kuala Lumpur, I was staying with my sister and sometime my uncles. But I had a reputation to keep (haha), my mouth was as foul as ever - in Malay, English and Hokkien. Once my sis Murni had had enough of me she shoved my head into a big pot of water and also rammed some chillies into my mouth to teach me a lesson. Hahahah....didn't work.
The complaints from all and sundry in Singapore reached my parents and so in 1969, I was packed and sent off to join them - to Petaling Jaya - at 107 Jalan 12/14 near Filem Negara where my Abah worked.
I was ten at the time when I entered Primary 6 in La Salle Primary School. I skipped Primary 5 since somehow the Malaysian education authorities thought the education in Singapore was more advanced than in KL - so from Standard 4 I went straight to Primary 6. And I was only ten because my birthday is in December - so I was the youngest in class.
Made friends easily - and my immediate best friend was one Justin Morais - who later joined the police force and later in life became a lawyer. I had other friends too - Roslan (who went on to date a famous local jazz singer), Wan Fauzy (who now lectures in USM and whose sister married a prominent statesman) and Zainal Ariffin (who has since become a doctor) to mention but a few.
An incident I remember well was May 13. I had joined the school takraw team and our first match against another school was scheduled for that date. Somehow, we were told school was cancelled and that we were to stay at home. I can't remember the infamous event in detail (I was only ten at the time remember) but I cannot forget the massive propaganda machine working overtime on TV. I clearly remember the warnings against hoarding, against spreading rumours and constant messages that the threat of communism still existed around us then.
Nevertheless life as a ten year old student in PJ was rather uneventful. Fun really start to happen in secondary school and I can't wait for that to happen. Assuntarians - watch out!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007


The 2007 Indonesian Film Festival recently concluded in Pekan Baru of all places. I guess the industry gurus of the Indonesian cinema wanted to bring the films to their audiences outside Jakarta. Actor Alex Komang (who was in KL for the screening of his film Bom Bali (Long Road To Heaven) at the KLIFF 07, did extend an invitation to me and a couple of other friends - however, due to various commitments, none of us could make it.
Anyway, the 2007 FFI was really a showcase to award commercial filmmaking at its best - because that's what they did - they honoured commercial hits. Below are the results:

Best Film: Naga Bonar Jadi 2
Best Direction: Hanung Bramantyo (Get Married)
Best Actor: Deddy Mizwar (Naga Bonar Jadi 2)
Best Actress: Diana Olivia (Mengejar Mas Mas)
Supporting Actor: Lukman Sardi (Naga Bonar Jadi 2)
Supporting Actress: Meriam Bellina (pictured above) (Get Married)
Cinematography: Ipung Rahmat Syaiful (Kala)
Art Direction: Wencisiaus (Kala)
Sound: Adytia Susanto/Adimolana Machmud (Naga Bonar Jadi 2)
Score: Dian HP (Love Is Cinta)
Editing: Cesa David Lukmansyah (Get Married)
Best Indonesian Language Film: Kala
Screenplay: Naga Bonar Jadi 2
Documentary: Sang Budha Bersemayam di Borobudur (Marseli Sumarno)
Short Film: Karena Aku Sayang Markus (Magra C Noor)

Jury Awards
Best Animation: Bahan Bakar Tinja (
Jury's Choice Best Director: Deddy Mizwar (Naga Bonar Jadi 2)

Commercial box office hit Naga Bonar Jadi 2, a comedy, won the major awards - or rather old hand Deddy Mizwar (pictured below on the right) went home with three awards - actor, screenwriter and jury choice for best director (don't know what this award means as the official best director award went to Hanung Bramantyo for the comedy and modest hit Get Married).

I'm glad that Kala (pic below), the stylish and noirish film by Joko Anwar won a few awards including cinematography and art direction. It also won another strange award - Best Indonesian Language Award - which I assume means that the other films in the running were in Javanese or Minang or other local dialects.
Another old hand, the beautiful actress Meriam Bellina won best supporting actress. This is wonderful as I've been a fan of this beautiful woman since she appeared in Roro Mendut directed by an old friend of mine, the late Amy Priyono. In fact, in the early 90s, when I got to produce and write my first ever sinetron for Indonesia entitled Agensi, I casted Amy Priyono. I also named the fictitious ad agency in the series Roro Mendut Ad Agency - a nod to Amy's classic film.
Strangely at the FFI, the big guns drew blanks - Garin Nugroho didn't have a new film after last year's Opera Jawa (scene from the movie shown below),Eros Djarot too hasn't completed his much awaited The Last Dancer, no entries from Riri Reza and Nia Dinata (who scored big with her Berbagi Suami in 06).
Nevertheless, the overall quality of Indonesian films have actually improved - technically and commercially - and augurs well for their industry.
In the domestic scene, I heard that we have two dozen films already completed and waiting to be screened. This does not include the indie films (perrenial favourites at international fest circuits) and those that are in production. For a country that has very few local film fans, this is not necessarily good news - but there are a couple of films that are worth checking out - Hans Isaac's Cuci and Mamat Khalid's Kala Malam Bulan Mengambang.


Today we celebrate the Haj and the sacrifice bestowed unto the Prophet Ibrahim pbuh . In the Muslim world, I was told at a young age that Aidil Adha was a more important event or festival than Aidil Fitri. Somehow, Aidil Fitri is celebrated on a bigger scale in this region - maybe because of the month of Ramadhan and the anticipation created during the fasting period - everyone is eager to celebrate Raya Raya Aidilfitri. However, Hari Raya Haji is celebrated in a more muted manner, even though its significance may be greater.
So, this morning I went to the mosque in Kampung Tunku (last year we celebrated the Haj fest at my parents place in Janda Baik). There were not many residents in attendance today, maybe because of the long weekend most have decided to go on year end holidays with the family and kids. Nevertheless, the crowd was big and colorful enough to give a sense of festivity - that is until the incumbent President of the Mosque committee gave a speech before the start of prayers.
Personally, I try not to write about anything political in this blog, but having said that, I also believe that the sanctity of the mosque should not be smeared by politicking individuals.
The President or Chairman of the committee began by saying that he wanted to comment on a particular event that is in everyone's mind - the Indians who were demanding to be heard and asking for 'things'. I was shocked when he addressed the congregation as "Kita orang Melayu" - "We the Malays". And there was evident for all to see that in that mosque there were Indians, Chinese, mix-blood citizens and some Bangladeshis present - and the stupid Chairman had the gall to say " Kita Orang Melayu" assuming wrongly that everyone in front of him were Malays! Worse, it was in a mosque where race does not have any place in the proceedings - we are all Muslims there. Not Malays. Muslims!!!
Then he said that the Indians came to the country to work in the rubber estates and they were earning a salary of RM200 to RM300 a month which was more than what the Malays were earning. He also said that since then, the Indians have reached their objective - whatever that was I don't know because he didn't elaborate.
I had the urge to stand up and yell at him, but this was a mosque, not a meeting hall to debate such matters. So I sit cross legged, feeling nauseous at this man's idiotic rambling.
I thought that was more stupidity. Then after prayers, the Khutbah began, by this Imam whom I don't recognise. He began talking about the reasons behind the festival and gave his take on the sacrifice Prophet Ibrahim and Prophet Ismail did for the ummah.
Then he began to give a list of things that are wrong with the society - none of the items caught my attention much until number eleven when he said : "nombor sebelas - artis-artis yang tidak bermoral disanjung tinggi."...eckkkk!!!! Kena one time I was listening to a sermon that attacked my parents, friends and family - we who are part of the film industry - the so call artistes....wahh...we must be the scum of the earth to be praised and 'disanjung' for being immoral. In one fell blow, in a Raya Haji khutbah, artis are immoral! No one else is blamed. Only artistes! Sheeshhh!!!! Politicians are not immoral? Government servants are not immoral? I mean, why generalise and pick on us poor artistes? Was the imam angry he didn't marry an artiste? Was he jilted by someone in the film industry? Why use the khutbah to attack artistes? At that moment, I gave up on the imam and the mosque. This will be the last time I'll step in that mosque. I'll go to mosques that are further away that do not insult the non-Malays and local artistes.
What a way to celebrate Hari Raya Haji.
Anyway, to all my friends who didn't attend prayers at this mosque, to all my relatives, colleagues and readers, I wish you a very Happy Hari Raya Aidil Adha. To my non-Muslim friends and readers - have a great, safe and dry weekend. And for my Christian friends, I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy a New Year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Goodbye Dear Friend - Bal Bahadur 1954-2007

Bal Bahadur, 53, was laid to rest today around 5pm. His cortege arrived at the Kampung Tunku Crematorium from his house in Rawang town. After short prayers, he was cremated. About 50 of his closest friends and relative were there to bid their last goodbyes to him.His father, Bakhtar (seen in pic above - seated on right - talking to a Nepalese priest ), is as sad as a father can be whose son has left the world before him. Amongst his friends were Shan (who was at his side when Bal breathed his last after suffering from a massive heart attack whilst he was alone in a KL shopping mall), Dato Harits, Nicholas, Hamm Singh and Raja Hizad. Those who paid their last respects at Bal's home in Rawang include Colin, Roger, Cik Amnah and Tan.
The ceremony at the Crematorium was done under Hindu rites with a Nepalese touch. A solemn event made touching when candles and incense sticks were passed around. As required, his two sons carried a clay water-filled bowl around the casket. After three circles, a hole punctured the bowl to allow the water to spill as the sons circled the casket once again. I maybe be wrong but it looked as if it symbolises the departure of life from a vessel. The bowl is then allowed to be dropped and shattered and the sons are whisked away to be isolated from everyone for 13 days.
Moments later the casket is closed and taken into the crematoria. Bal Bahadur Rana - gurkha, husband, father, grandfather, golfer, goodguy - has left us. Goodbye, God bless and Rest in Peace Dear Friend.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Life Is But A Blink In the Mind's Eye

Monday 17th December 2007 - at around 2 pm today, a very close friend of mine passed away. He was Bal Bahadur Rana. He was 53. We had planned to meet up sometime this week for business - it never happened. In a blink of an eye, he was gone. On Raya Day when he dropped by my family's house in Janda Baik to pay me a visit and a few days later, I met him again at another friend's open house. That was the last I met him. His family, friends, relatives and the Gurkha community in Malaysia are in shock. A jovial and wonderful person, full of life, a better golfer than I am, great smile - Bal has left us too soon. He was the Managing Director of SecureGuards, one of the country's top security services firm. He came from a long line of heroic Gurkhas who served Malaya. His father Bhaktar Bahadur made Malaya his home in 1942 at the age of 18. Bal followed his footsteps and was the force behind the family's success in the security business.
I will miss him. Very very much. Farewell my good friend. We had wonderful memories together. Rest In Peace. In the picture below from right: Bal Bahadur, Wilson, Tiar, Shukor, Azizan, Nasir, Shakir, Raja Hizad and Ayub - all golf buddies and friends.

Liverpool FC and other sports stuff

Last week, after my birthday celebrations, Liverpool FC gave me a great gift - an away win at Marseille to seal a place in the quarter finals of the Champions League. It was a comfortable win. So, we went into last night's game at home to Manchester United with high hopes. Before the game, my friends who supported Man U began their SMS of attrition. But I was hoping for a win.
Alas, it was a night for Man U fans to savor. We were the better team but better teams don't win games without scoring. Argghhhhh!!!
Now we meet Chelsea in mid week for the Carling Cup game. I don't have much hope for that either.
I've been supporting Liverpool since I don't know when. I've always supported them. My brother Captain Arjunaidi on the other hand has always supported Arsenal. I've supported LFC since Steve Heighway's dazzling runs whilst my brother would go gaga over Charlie George's flowing locks.
In soccer or football, I was more of a spectator than a participant though I did play some. I was always a goalkeeper. In fact, I broke my wrist in school in Form 3 whilst playing goalie.
I was a decent goalie but not good enough to represent my school who had an excellent goalkeeper - my classmate Lee Wai Chong who I think even represented Selangor at one stage. My favourite goalkeepers were Gordon Banks (pic below),Ray Clemence, Peter Shilton, Dino Zoff (whom I met in Old Trafford)
and our own Chow Chee Keong. However, I did see some old video clips of the famous Russian goalkeeper Lev Yashin (pic below). and thought he was kinda fantastic too.
When I was in New Straits Times, I joined the hockey and cricket teams. In hockey, I played in goal too. Cricket? I was an all rounder.
My most memorable game in hockey was when NST played against the Police team in a friendly where I had to face national players. I think I let 4 or 5 goals slip through me that day.
I loved sports. Badminton, cricket, football, hockey - you name it. I used to be able to name every player in our national team and went to the stadium to see players like Syed Ahmad, Arumugam, the great Mokhtar Dahari,Kapitan Soh Chin Aun, James Wong, Hassan Sani, Namat Abdullah, Santokh Singh, Chow Chee Keong, Shaharuddin Abdullah and many others.
We screamed our heads off whenever Malaysia or Selangor met Singapore.
Now, I don't know any of our players - and last week we faced the ignominy of losing to Vietnam and not winning the Gold medal in the SEA Games in Korat. Our team is a bunch of ninnies. Nothing compared to the greats of the 70s and early 80s when we were as good as teams from Japan or South Korea. I wonder if any one remembered the great goal by the famous Japanese striker in Merdeka stadium - his name was Kamamoto.
Those were the good old days lah. I miss them and I think many Malaysians wish that the good old days of Malaysian soccer will return. Personally I don't think it will - at least in my lifetime. Not if we think Serbie Singh is the country's best football mind.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


It's the end of the year already. Somehow, days seem to pass by so fast. It's scary. Haven't had time to reminisce about the good old days. Rather thinking of checking out the best movies of 2007. Somehow, I felt as if, it has been a really bad year for good movies. Really bad. Even the commercial fare was crap - Spiderman 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 3 and Harry Potter. All bland fare. Transformers was pure popcorn fare - but the action set pieces were so frenetic you really don't who's fighting whom.
I did however get to see some quality movies - but this was when I went to the Iranian International Film Festival in Teheran earlier this year. Saw a German movie entitled The Lives of Others. It won Best Film nod at that festival and you'd really have to see it to understand why. At a recent French Film Festival, a movie entitled La Mome or La Vie En Rose was screened to a small audience. That too was a great piece of filmmaking - completely held in place by the magnificent talent of its lead actress Marion Cotillard, who played the part of Edith Piaf. In fact, her acting did not past unnoticed as some critic awards in the US has already hailed her acting as the best for this year.
I also caught Best Film recipient of the Japan Film Awards 2006 Hula Girls on a flight back from Jakarta. This was a feel good movie at its best. I doubt it will hit the cinemas here, so grab a DVD of it if you get the chance.
Animation? Apart from my Budak Lapok (hehehehe), the ones of note would be Shrek 3 and Ratatouille. Oh favourite one - The Simpsons movie. That was hilarious even though overall Ratatouille was a more accomplished work.
Action fare? Die Hard 3? Puhleez!!! Even The Condemned was better than that..and that's not saying much. Surprise of the year would be 300 but the pseudo political nuances underlying the movie spoilt my viewing of it.
Horror? Nothing note worthy. Even the hyped up remake of Halloween was a long stretch. 1408 was much better though the ending was lousy.

So what's my choice for best of the best? Below is my list:

Most Enjoyable Film of The Year

Best Film of The Year
Hula Girls/The Lives of Others

Most Anticipated Movie of the Year
American Gangster

Best Director
Gulliermo Del Toro (Pan's Labyrinth) (Picture below)

Best Actor:
No particular outstanding performance (need to see American Gangster, The Bucket List, Eastern Promises) but special mention for Ulrich Muhe of Lives of Others.

Best Actress:
Marion Cotillard (La Mome)

Most Disappointing Movie
Evan Almighty

Most Surprising Movie
Sivaji The Boss (mainly for the gorgeous Shriya Sharan below)

Best Local Movie
Mukhsin (Please note that I have yet to see Anak Halal)

Movies I Missed
Balls of Fire, Lions For Lamb,Bee Movie and Beowulf

Movies To Look Out:
Eastern Promises, Daywatch, No Country for Old Men, Lust, Caution, Persepolis.

Blockbusters to Bite Your Nails and Can't Wait To See:
Ironman, Indiana Jones 4, Cloverfield (Poster Below) and Speed Racer.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


Today is 9th December. 49 years ago I came into this world. Thank you Abah. Thank you Mak.
So what did I do for my birthday? Well...the celebrations started yesterday on Saturday..the family wanted to go out for the whole in the morning we went to Sunway - to check out the new wing...nice. Then we decided to catch a movie - saw Golden Compass...much better than Narnia...had some great chocolate fondue at Haagen Daz. Later in the evening, the whole clan - Me, my wife Puteh, my kids Abadi, Hadi, Dylla and Iliya plus Tasha (Abadi's girfriend), and Abah went for a big feast. Mak is shooting a drama in she wasn't there..she didn't even text or call me to wish me...Anyway, we went to this great place called Lobsterman in SS2. A little unassuming restaurant but they serve great lobster dishes. We had four lobsters!!! Later, sent Abah back home while we went out to Bukit Bintang - to Pavilion. Surprisingly, there was a fringe festival in town which we didn't know about - the place was crawling with magicians, acrobats, clowns, dancers and other fringe acts...lots of fun.
Then we bought tickets to see another movie - The Heartbreak Kid.
The movie started at 11.50pm. So when it turned midnight, I celebrated my birthday at the new Pavilion cineplex watching Ben Stiller. Heheh...had a great time with the family. Too bad Liverpool lost to Reading - that spoilt the evening a little bit but luckily today, on the 9th Boro defeated Arsenal - so that was ok la.
On this day itself it was quiet - family threw a little tea party for me and got a cake (see picture). Then we had to attend a dear friend's daughter's wedding at Felda Kayangan Hall.
Now I'm 49!!! Next year I'll turn half a century!!! Argggghhhhh!!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


It's the season to watch movies I guess. As a movie fan, such news are like locating the holy grail - we live only to watch movies - great ones, bad ones, crap ones, fantastic ones. So when there's a few film festivals literally at your doorsteps - it should be great fun. So, if you don't know, today, begins the KL International Film Fest or KLIFF. Yes yes...a film festival, an international film don't know anything about it? Don't blame yourself, not many know about it...including industry professionals. Yes and Majid Majidi is in town to give a talk about story telling. When? Where? Whaaa? Well check out their website - - simple enough website - with schedules of workshops listed - mostly about animation and 3D - again the hope that Malaysia will one day be a global animation hub...but heck..there's no film screening schedule!! What's the point on having an international film festival when you can't get hold of the film screening schedule? I know there's about two dozen movies participating from all over the world - really unknown movies except for 1957 Hati Malaya representing Malaysia - but if someone wants to know what movies to watch, where's the info?
Unlike the First Indonesia Horror Film Fest - ScreamfestIndo starting today (the 28th of November) in Jakarta. An official offshoot of the ScreamFest Horror Film Festival in the US, the festival looks and sounds fun. Check out their website at Dozens of horror, thriller, fantasy, anime and sci-fi movies lines up for movie fans! It's really a festival for movie goers unlike KLIFF who was organised for whom?? The opening film tonight in Jakarta is Guillermo Del Toro's latest movie The Orphanage. And then the screening goes on and on for five days plus a workshop helmed by Indon director Rizal Mantovani and featuring top horrormeister Brian Yuzna (Re-Animator series). The workshops were fully booked weeks ahead.
And then a week later, in Jakarta, begins the 9th Jakarta International Film Festival - yes the ninth year! Ten days of movie watching!! Checkout their website at And surprise surprise - our neighbours are actually screening plenty of Malaysian movies - old and new! Look at the list of Malaysian movies to be screened: Bujang Lapok, Labu Labi, Laksaman Do Re Mi, Hang Tuah, Mukhsin, Chalanngai and The Last Communist.
Then the screenings of more than 40 movies!!! And movies of note - if you happen to be in Jakarta at that time check out the following movies - Hula Girls from Japan, La Vie En Rose from France, Sicko from USA, Persepolis from USA and Indigenes from France/Algeria. Just check out their screening list - you can just drown yourself in movies over the next two weeks in Jakarta at the Blitz Megaplex.
And the JIFFEST workshops are worldclass - participants of the screenwriting workshops stand to win more than 35,000 Euros for their work! Enough to complete or begin shooting their own masterpieces. This is what a true festival is about - getting the public - both general public and those in the local film industry to participate. KLIFF? Don't really know who they organised it for. Too bad we don't know where and when to catch any of the movies participating in the KLIFF here at our own backyard.

Al Fatihah - Hussein Abu Hassan Dies Of Kidney Failure

I was in Jakarta on the Monday morning of 26th November when I received an SMS from Den Wahab saying that Uncle Hussein had passed away that morning. I was saddened and surprised by that news. I had only met him a couple of weeks ago at an industry Aidil Fitri function in Ulu Kelang. He came with his son and my good friend Faizal, whom I've directed quite a few times (He was Jebat in my film Tuah). Uncle Hussein looked healthy and good at that function, walking by himself with a cane. When he was about to leave the function I hugged him and helped him to Faizal's car. Little did i know that that would be the last I would see of him.
To Faizal and his family, especially to Auntie Mahyon, my deepest condolences and my prayers to them and to Allahyarham.

Below is an excerpt of the news as it appears in the papers:

KUALA LUMPUR, 26 Nov (Bernama) -- Pelakon dan pengarah veteran terkenal, Hussein Abu Hassan, 70, meninggal dunia awal hari ini di Hospital Kuala Lumpur kerana penyakit buah pinggang dan beberapa komplikasi penyakit lain.

Anak bongsunya yang juga pelakon terkenal, Faizal berkata beliau menerima panggilan daripada pihak hospital pukul 5.30 pagi ini yang memaklumkan bapanya berada dalam keadaan kritikal.

"Ketika saya dan semua ahli keluarga tiba di hospital kira-kira pukul 6.15 pagi, doktor sedang memberikan bantuan CPR (penafasan) kerana jantung bapa telah terhenti sejak pukul 5.30 pagi lagi," katanya kepada Bernama di sini.

Beliau berkata apabila bapanya disahkan meninggal dunia, semua ahli keluarga termasuk ibunya, pelakon Mahyon Ismail berada di sisi arwah.

Jenazah bapanya dibawa balik ke rumah mereka di Taman Gombak Setia untuk dimandi dan dikapankan sebelum dikebumikan di tanah perkuburan Taman Ibu Kota, Setapak selepas Zuhur ini, katanya.

Faizal berkata pada malam tadi, beliau bersama isterinya, Suhaila Sulaiman serta anak sulung mereka pergi melawat Hussein di hospital, dan arwah kelihatan ceria serta boleh bergurau dengan cucunya itu.

"Saya memang terkejut apabila dimaklumkan pihak hospital awal pagi ini sebab ketika kami melawatnya malam tadi, arwah boleh duduk dan kelihatan ceria walaupun sukar untuk bercakap sebab dia demam dan tekaknya berdarah," katanya.

Beliau berkata bapanya yang menghidap penyakit buah pinggang sejak tujuh tahun lalu, turut menghidap penyakit jantung dan paru-paru berair serta sering keluar masuk hospital untuk mendapatkan rawatan.

Hussein yang dilahirkan pada 1937 di Alor Gajah, Melaka meninggalkan seorang isteri dan tiga anak serta empat cucu.

Selain Faizal, dua lagi anaknya iaitu Dilla, yang merupakan penulis skrip drama dan Fairuz, penyanyi R&B terkenal.

Monday, November 19, 2007

From Kuali to Tuah

Lets skip a few years in my life.
When I began life as one of the pioneering members of TV3, I was made the station's first Programme Procurement Officer assisting in the programming of the station's first year's programming. I remember recommending a few programmes - Jewel In The Crown, Brideshead Revisited and David Copperfield's TV specials.
When they decided to create a Production Department with Sherkawi Jirim heading it, I applied for the post of Producer (eventhough I did not have any experience - only theory). I was successful and became one of the first two producers in Tv3 next to the late Karim Mohamed. We three were sent to London for a crash course - seconded to Thames TV and Granada TV for three months.
It was wonderful experience - especially with Granada TV when I was sent to observe a sports coverage of a live telecast in Manchester. I went to Old Trafford for a Euro Cup game between Juventus and Manchester United. I even managed to gain access (for a few minutes) into the backrooms when the teams were lined up - I met my hero Dino Zoff and much admired striker Boniek. Platini was also around. Manchester United? They were there....hohum (being a Liverpool fan I was not really inspired when meeting the Devils in person).
Can't remember the score but I remembered not being warmly dressed for the occasion. It was fall approaching winter and I was only wearing an overcoat. Typical Melayu lah. It got so cold that I had to go buy two beef pies to put in my pockets to warm my hands. Haha.
Anyway, returning home, I got to produce the station's first two in-house programmes - Kuali and Nona. For Kuali, I chose the elegant and beautiful Nazliah Ahmad as host. For Nona, I remember selecting former stewardess Furzanne as the original host.Picture above: Me (In the blue sweater) with Gary (my first Tech Producer) at one of the earliest shoots for Kuali.
My stint in TV3 lasted only three years as I had a disagreement with the management. So I left to join an event management company that organised the original defence show in PWTC. Nevertheless, the production bug was really tempting. I decided to become a freelance director. Luckily for me, my parents trusted my 'talents' and when RTM began its original drama swasta slots, I managed to persuade my mother to let me try my hand directing my first TV drama. She agreed and I wrote Karam Di Mata Karam Di Hati - starred Marlia Musa and the late Mahmud Jun. It was shot in 16mm film and finished in Hongkong at Mandarin Lab.
After that, I heard about a Hollywood movie being shot in Sarawak to be directed by John Milius. It was called Farewell The King and Nick Nolte was slated to star. I can't remember how, but I went to Jemima Studios for an interview and got the job as second assistant director.
They sent me to Kuching for the shoot - a three month stint! It was great experience - we worked with the best crew from England and Australia.
The Assistant Director was one Dereck Cracknell, who was the AD in the movie Batman. The First AD, Julian Wall was also an experienced AD and was involved in Gandhi, but recently I saw his credits as an AD in Bad Boys 2.
The DOP was Dean Semmler from Australia - he just received an Oscar for Dances With Wolves. His assistant, who I worked mostly with in the project, was one Andrew Lesnie (pictured below). Little did we know that he would one day helm a movie called Lord of The Rings and win an Oscar for Photography!
It was great working in a movie where money seems to be no object - especially with a director like John Milius (Conan The Barbarian, Red Dawn). I guess his directorial skills were mostly done during pre-pro with the storyboards because he is usually in his tent waiting for the AD to prepare things for him. When ready, we call the Guvnor (Milius) and he appears and says action! and cut! and then disappears back into his tent. He hardly mingles with the crew.
Nick Nolte was something else. He was a real pro when he was sober. When he wasn't he was a barrel of laughs. He had no airs around him. He would readily mixed with locals and the crew. He would stay back and even go out pubbing with us lesser mortals.The above pic: from left to right - John Milius (in dark turban) and Nick Nolte.
It was a great three months. I remember working with great colleagues - Merie Weismller (assistant to producer Eliot Schick) and Hoo Ee Kee (another AD Local) - now a big time TVC director in the region based in Jakarta. From what I'd gather Merie is now one of the most sought after unit still photographers in the industry having done stills for Letters To Iwo Jima and Blood Work.
Once back from Kuching, I was itching to direct my own feature. I had a screenplay in hand and showed it to my parents. The script was Tuah - a revisionist/fantasy screenplay about Hang Tuah.
They liked the script and wanted to produce it. So in 1988, I directed my first feature film. I didn't get casting rights as a first time director. My mom the producer chose Jamal Abdillah eventhough I preferred M. Nasir. It was hell working with Jamal.
Nevertheless, the movie got completed albeit with minimal budget. If you remember the final scene between Jamal and Faizal Hussin (as Jebat), you'd see the set design as being very minimal. There was no budget to go shoot on location so I had to settle (grudgingly) for a fantasized set. Unfortunately on camera it looked very bare and basic.
The making of the movie also had some very bad memories - whilst doing post at Mandarin Studios in Hongkong, the apartment we were staying in got broken into by some parang wielding robbers. The ransacked everything including all our cash. Luckily for us, they didn't harm me and my parents. But it was a traumatic experience!
The movie opened to lukewarm box office but didn't lose any money. It was invited to Montreal, Berlin, Tokyo, Fukuoka and Jakarta festivals. It won a Jury Award at the Asia Pacific Film Festival in Jakarta in 1989.
At the Malaysian Film Festival the same year, I pulled the film out of competition as I was sore over the previous year's results - A R Badul won Best Director for Oh Fatimah.
So much for making an impact in the local film industry.

Friday, November 9, 2007

People I remember in MFP

Its been decades but I do remember some of the people my father used to work with in Jalan Ampas. The one person I remember clearly was A.V. Bapat the art director for most of MFP's movie. If you manage to get a glimpse of the old Malay film posters - more than likely that was his handiwork (like the Raja Bersiong poster above). I like the way he painted his posters and maybe it did somewhat influenced me into wanting to be an artist. Uncle Bapat has long since passed on, and it would be sad that sometimes his contributions to the Malay film industry is overlooked.
As far as I know, he did sets, costumes and all art direction my father did when he was at Jalan Ampas.
I used to call him Uncle Gorilla because he was the hairiest guy I knew at that time.
If I am not mistaken he came to Singapore from India and was assisting the Indian film directors with sets and art direction, and fell in love with Singapore. I think he never left Malaya since and until the day he passed away in Kuala Lumpur about a decade back.
Another familiar character, viewed from afar was the studio manager, Mr Kwek Jip Chian or just plain Mr Kwek. He ran the studio. I remember him well because he keeps reminding me of Lee Kuan Yew.
Of course there's the late Uncle Jaafar Abdullah (picture above) who was the studio's main PR man. Uncle Jaafar remained in the industry until the early nineties I think until his final days with Syed Kechik Films. Jaafar would have been an excellent resource of information on the history of Malay films but I guess no one managed to interview him.
Another person close to the family was Pak A or Kemat Hassan. In the pic below, he is the one on the left with specs.He was my dad's assistant director in some movies and became very close with the family. In fact, most people would say that he was my dad's younger brother as he looked a lot like my dad. I remember him as a soft spoken kindly man. I think he passed away three years ago.
Of course there's all the other people who were our neighbors in Boon Teck Road - Jins Shamsuddin and his late wife Rahmah Rahmat, Wak Mustardjo and his beautiful daughter Ribut and many others - but I was that close to most of them (I was only four or five when we were staying in Boon Teck Road).
However, the Jalan Ampas family was a unique episode in the history of Malay films - one that was not repeated - even in Merdeka Studios. Most of the people in Jalan Ampas worked as a close knit family - from P. Ramlee to my father and to the other directors like Sudarmaji, Kadarisman and Omar Rojik. I hardly remember anything about Cathay Keris except when my mom left Shaw studio to work with Cathay for awhile and made movies with Nordin Ahmad and the rest of the Keris crowd.
The industry became more fragmented when Jalan Ampas closed down and most everyone went to Kuala Lumpur to be part of the Merdeka Studio set up. However, hampered with old equipment and lack of support from Shaw (they were still churning out black and white films when imported movies were in Cinemascope and Color), Merdeka Studios did not augur well of the ailing Malay film industry. By late 60s it was just a shell. The players in the industry too were not as close knit as was during the time in Jalan Ampas. So the inevitable happened. The Golden Age of Malay films died before the 70s.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


In 1969, my parents decided enough was enough. I cannot be left alone in Singapore. I had been a handful for those responsible for taking care of me in Singapore. I was studying still in Balestier Mixed School - in Primary Four. My brother was also in Balestier and my sister in Swiss Cottage. Dad was in between jobs - the Malay Film studios in Jalan Ampas was going bust and there was an exodus of film workers to Kuala Lumpur - to the new (at that time) studio in Ulu Kelang (Merdeka Studios).
To date, we have been travelling to KL for a few times already. I guess Abah was testing the waters there. We actually stayed for awhile in Setapak Garden which was quite near to the Merdeka studio. In fact, my berkhatan ceremony was held in Setapak Garden. Amongst all childhood memories, this one was quiet vivid. It was a time when tok mudims were running amok - going around happy with their snip-snipping ways.
That morning, wearing kain sarong, I was led to a room surrounding by unfamiliar male faces. There in the center of the room was a banana tree trunk. It was laid down for me to sit astride on. The sarong was taken away and there I was naked in front of the tok mudim and everyone else (males). I was given a liquid to drink supposedly to calm me down (could be a placebo for all I know). Within seconds, the tok mudim's cold hands was preparing my little friend for its inevitable fate. I won't go into details, but just before the incisive moment, he told me to turn my head away and take a deep breath. Not knowing what will happen I obeyed and then it happened. Snip snip - a fore(skin)gone conclusion. In seconds, the tok mudim wrapped it in gauze strips and I can still remember the smell of blood. The pain? I guess it was sharp and quick, over in seconds. Once done, I wore my sarong and walked around holding the front of the sarong in front of me not letting the cloth come into contact with my very sensitive friend.
The best thing about 'berkhatan' is that the many gifts we get - and I got plenty - including a model warship from Uncle P. Ramlee.
Everything was fine until the next couple of days when we had to change the gauze - now - that was excruciating!!!
Well, enough of that incident. From Setapak, my Dad decided that his time with Merdeka Studios should come to an end, so in 1969, he accepted a post with the Filem Negara in Petaling Jaya.
And from a small terrace house in Setapak, we now stayed in a nice little single storey bungalow at 107, Jalan 12/14 in Petaling Jaya - mere walking distance from Filem Negara.
I was put into the La Salle Primary School in Jalan Gasing in Standard Six. My elder brother was sent back to Singapore to continue hi studies where he eventually entered Raffles.
Somehow, it seems, Singapore's education standards were higher and therefore, from Standard Four in Singapore I was promoted to Primary Six in PJ. I skipped Primary Five, and therefore from then on was always the youngest student in class.
My younger brother Asnadi has not yet started schooling but he would enter a couple of years later at the new Seri Petaling Primary school in Section 14.
Meawhile, Abah began his stint in Filem Negara directing documentaries.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Aidilfitri 2007

Have you ever tried to remember the earliest Hari Raya you ever ever had? I tried to. I can't remember much. Just vague images of fire works, merchun, visiting relatives. And of course receiving duit Raya - in those days I think it was 10 sen or 20 sen I guess - and we were so happy. Times have changed. Today we have green packets. Now when did this happen? I understand the Chinese red packet concept...culturally, for the Malays, is there a significance to the 'birth' of the green packet? I remember the times when we had a bowl full of 50 sen coins and one ringgit coins prepared in one corner to be given to kids who dropped by the house. They knew and saw what they would be getting. Nowadays, there's suspense involved. They receive a green packet which they tear the minute they step out of the house to look at what they have received. Usually homes that give kids less the RM1 are not too popular the next time around. As for me, nowadays, I put aside around RM1000 a year just for duit raya matters! I wonder how much my dad put aside for Raya during the 60s for his kids. I doubt it was more than 50 singapore dollars. And that was a lot I bet.
And Raya preparation and shopping. Wow! It's bloody expensive nowdays. Went to the new Pavilion Shopping complex in KL for Raya shopping with the family and compiled a huge bill.
I remember that when I was a kid, I bought shoes only twice in a year (if I was lucky). And both times would be at Bata - To buy a Hari Raya pair of shoes, and to get badminton master shoes for school (when times are hard, even a fungkeong pair would do) and that was all. Today? They would go to Quicksilver, or look for Vans sport shoes, Rockport or Obermain or Bally...jeans? Hey, I was glad as a teenager when I got my first Amco and Texwood OK..I think they cost around 30 to 50 ringgit in the 70s. Today? Branded jeans start at RM300!!! Now I know why people line up to go to Bandung to pay homage to the Factory Outlets there.

But what I missed most of all, are the fireworks. Really. I blame the ban on stupid parents who allowed their kids to experiment on Bom Buluh in the kampungs and causing the kids to loose their fingers when it accidentally blows up. Don't the kids know how to surf the internet to build better bom buluhs. In times like this, when bomb makers are frowned upon, I agree we cannot allow kids and teenagers the freedom of accessing gunpowder - They might grow up to become adults who want access to 70 virgins at a young age.

But now, even contraband fireworks are difficult to come by. Fire crackers? More difficult. I was in Thailand recently (Southern) and they sell fireworks like candy. Even with the insurgent problems they have.

Hey, we even changed the P. Ramlee Raya song so as not to promote the use of fireworks..really...the song used to have the words :"Bambam bom Bunyi mercun!"'s not there anymore. Funny,here we are not promoting fireworks and recently over Merdeka we held a multimillion ringgit International Fireworks Festival.

But heck, I know the rich Malay guys have access to fireworks. They even blatantly main bunga api during the Raya without being afraid of the police because of their connections. In fact, having a great Raya fireworks show at home is now very much a 'prestigious' or a status symbol thing: :"Hey guys! Look! My fireworks is bigger and better than yours and the police did not summon me!". Big time status lah.

My nenek (grandmother) passed away earlier this year. I think she was 100 years old. I will miss her. I miss the way she massaged my shoulders and legs after I came home from playing sepak takraw. i miss the way she tinkered around my garden. I miss her minang accent. Over Raya (the first Raya without her) I'll miss her insistence we make lemang the traditional way. She also kept reminding my mom that I prefer ketupat pulut to nasi, and that when the rendang is cooked but still wet, to take some out for me. )This is a kalio stage of rendang,which I like). But her final rendang minang, which is black and dry is also excellent. Luckily for us, my mom uses the same recipe as my late grandmother.

This year, once again, we will celebrate Raya in Janda Baik at my dad's little wooden mansion named Harmony. We will be there the night before raya to help in the ketupat making. (Wonder when my kids will learn the art). The next morning, we would go to the small Janda Baik mosque. My dad in his wheel chair, and accompanied by my elder brother Capt Arjunaidi.
My other brother is still in New Jersey and all of us miss him during Raya.

After prayers, we would gather for the family meal at home. And every year without fail, mom would serve ketupat and rendang with lontong. Dad would lead the takbir Raya before doa and we would feast. By end of the day, I don't want to see another ketupat and lontong. And we would usually be tapau-ing Mcdonalds.

On the second day, Mom would prepare soto the way we like it (singapore style) with pergedel and lots of chicken pieces. And of course, more rendang and ketupat again and lemang. In the evening it would be KFC the food of choice.

Meanwhile, I would be popping a dozen Zantacs - My reflux is gonna cause me some major pains.

My thoughts for the next few days also go to those whose Raya has been spoilt by tragic consequences - like Allahyarhamah Nurin and her family. The many people who lost the relatives through fatal bus and automobile accidents. The many people who lives are turned upside down by other incidenes. The Muslim bangladeshis who are conned by agents and with nowhere to go. All the anak-anak yatims around the world (except those adopted by Angelina Jolie). Raya sometimes is a day of sadness, a day of remembrances. But it is also a day to rejoice, a day of fortitude. A day to count blessings.

I am also concerned about my latest movie Budak Lapok which begins its run on the second day of Raya - going against The Bourne Ultimatum. Luckily and thankfully, the critics and reviews have been positive. Alhamdullilah. I know the story is good, and if only people would just go out buy tickets and watch it, I'm sure they'll enjoy it. So you guys, support local films. It's only ten bucks. Mat Damon is already a multimillionaire, so no need to watch his movie.

To all bloggers, to all my friends, to all those who hate my guts, to one and all, I wish them Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Maaf Zahir Batin.

Endnote: To rugger fans, I'm happy and elated All Blacks lost. Go Springboks!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bulan Ramadhan 2007

Esok, 13hb September 2007, kita menyambut bulan Ramadhan. Saya mengucapkan semua peminat-peminat filem Melayu tempatan dan drama TV Melayu "selamat menyambut bulan puasa". Banyak-banyakkanlah ibadah kita pada bulan ini. InsyaAllah kita akan menjadi lebih soleh dan mendapat pahla yang banyak.
Dalam industri filem tempatan ini, memang ramai yang mempunyai musuh, dan perasaan hasad dengki itu memang wujud. Mereka yang kurang bernasib baik selalunya menyumpah mereka yang mungkin mendapat rezeki yang lebih daripada mereka. Dunia filem sama dengan dunia politik. Semuanya wayang. Ada yang mengatakan saya ni penipu - terpulanglah. Pada diri saya, peranan yang saya main dalam dunia perfileman ini adalah kerana saya ada hak. Saya tidak pernah membuat filem kos lebih RM2 juta dan merugikan penerbit-penerbit saya. Maka saya tidak pernah kerja untuk penerbit lain melainkan syarikat perfileman ibu bapa saya. Kalau ada pun, mereka yang invest dalam filem Ah Loke Kafe dan setiap investor telah hilang duit termasuk saya sendiri. Tetapi mereka rugi tidak melebihi Rm50,000 walhal saya hilang RM100,000.00. Kegagalan dan kerugian memang lumrah dalam dunia perfileman ataupun perniagaan. Saya bangga kerana ada syarikat sendiri dan mempunyai dana sendiri -walaupun dari bank ataupun famili....tidak macam beberapa orang pengarah yang hidup mencari penerbit yang boleh memberi mereka duit untuk projek mereka dan lepas itu lepas tangan dan buat tak tahu apabila filem itu gagal.Mereka dah dapat gaji, dah dapat nama, pedulilah dengan nasib si penerbit. Ramai juga macam ni.
Kepada mereka yang irihati ataupun kuat dengki pada aku, terpulanglah. Macam mana aku nak buat? Mereka akan tetap maki hamun saya bila dapat peluang. Orang macam mereka memang akan tetap ada. Merekalah yang menjahanam industri perfileman Melayu. Kepada karyawan filem yang tulin, saya tabik pada anda semua kerana industri ini memangnya satu industri yang begitu sukar dan begitu aneh.

Selamat Menyambut Bulan Ramadhan.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

schools days in singapore

This is a picture of my brother's (Arjunaidi's) 7th birthday in June 1965. The good looking kid on the left is me. He's the one on the right with the big ears. Hehehe.
I was studying in Balestier til primary 4 only. In the last year, we were shuttling to and from from Johor Baru because my dad bought a house in Taman Pelangi. However, it was a hassle to send us to school so we were told to stay with a family friend or uncle (not too sure). But at one stage, me and my (adopted) sister Murni were left to stay in a ramshackle squatter house near Tan Tock Seng mortuary. It was just a one room hut. If I remember, there was about eight to ten other huts around this compound. There was also only one toilet (for all) for bathing and doing what comes naturally. In the middle of the compound was a huge angsana tree - scary. At night I could swear seeing two red eyes high up in the tree top looking down. I was always too scared to go to the toilet at nights. My sister was also quite exasperated with me most times. She would sometime shove chillies in my mouth in a vain attempt to stop me from cursing. I also remember an incident when I played fire works and one of my rockets flew straight onto the roof of a nearby hospital building at the roof caught fire. Luckily, hospital staff were quick to put it out. i'm quite sure the building was a mortuary so even if it burnt down no one would have been killed or injured. They were already dead anyway.
My Dad was one of the most senior and best paid directors in Shaw's stable in Singapore at that time. He was quite clever in negotiating his salary. He was also not a spendthrift and careful with money. So you can imagine the family's surprise when he bought a new Opel Record for 7,000 dollar cash! This was quite an improvement for our traveling needs. Early on, we went to school in a trishaw, then my uncle Pak Tahir sent us to school in his cute Fiat. Now we go around in style - a sleek cool Opel Record - red in colour with the number plates SU 8166. (Above pictures lah)
In school even though I was in standard four, I was already a mata keranjang- I had my eyes on a few girls - namely Hairan (interesting name don't you think so?), Norashikin, Zarina Qushi (another interesting name). They would be pushing 50 now - wonder what they look like. In school I would always try to be the first to rush out during recess. Canteen was crap, but there was always a chinese man selling toasted charkoey cut into little pieces covered in black rojak sauce and covered with crush peanuts, served on a folded leaf. They come with sharp pieces of wooden sticks for you to poke the crispy charkoey and ram it up your mouth. It was delicious. To top it off, another guy would be dishing out sweet ais's basically a snow cone without the cone (I think Malaysian would refer to it as ais bola)...the ice shavings was moulded into a ball and coloured syrup poured over it. We would hold the ice ball and suck the cold syrup as quickly as possible. our palms would be frozen and was great fun..messy..but fun nevertheless.

Ahhh ...those were the days.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

From Boon Teck Road to Kampung Tunku

Hi, my name is Anwardi Jamil. Friends call me Didi. Some call me Dood. The rest use various expletives. I was born on the morning of December 9 in 1958 in a clinic along Aljunied Road in Singapore. I was too impatient to come into the world so much so that my mom did not manage to reach Hospital Kandang Kerbau to deliver me. Lucky me. Always like to remind my two brothers (my elder brother Arjunaidi and younger brother Asnadi) that they were born in Kandang Kerbau..heheh.
I do not remember much about my childhood days...but the few memories that I have are quite vivid. It comes in flashes, very cinematic and mostly in black and white. I do remember certain events during my family's stay in Jalan Boon Teck Road where Shaw Brothers housed most of their creative and technical staff there. Amongst those who shared the same address were Jins Shamsudin and his late wife Rahmah Rahmat; Saadiah, Normadiah, S.Shamsudin and many others. I think we stayed there for a few years until my father made enough money to get us out of that place to a double storied terrace house in Jalan Chengkek (where the picture below was taken - (from left - my adopted sister Murni, Abah (Dad), myself, Arjunaidi, Mak (Mom) and my late adopted brother Zaimi). The little 2-room house in Boon Teck Road was just basic squarish houses with smelly old bucket toilet system in the rear of the house. In fact, Boon Teck Road can actually be compared to a squatter area.
I went to Kindergarden at Macpherson Road (hardly remember anything) but I do remember a lot of incidences during my primary school days at Balestier Mixed Primary School. I was always the youngest in class. This is made 'worse' later on when my family migrated or moved to Kuala Lumpur in 1969. somehow I was allowed to skip Primary 5 and went to Primary 6 directly from Standard 4 (in Singapore). I saved nearly 2 years in my early school days.
Anyway, this blog will be...well...a journal or my journey...a non-linear journey as I will ramble to and fro, here and there and everywhere...and anything that interests me. You are more than welcomed to join me. Do post comments, queries and thoughts.
Til my next entry, cheerio.