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!!!