Saturday, February 7, 2009

MALAY FILM STUDIOS JALAN AMPAS SINGAPORE

The founder of the group called Singapore Malay Film Society (in Facebook and Friendster but now with an impressive website www.smfs.sg) left a comment in one of the earlier posts which was about us not considering film as part of our cultural heritage. In response, I would like to post this little trip down memory lane.

I went to Singapore a couple of years ago to help get some pics for my father's autobiography. These were photos of the famous Malay Film Production studios in Jalan Ampas. When I headed there, I'm not really sure what to expect or if the studio still existed. The last time I set foot in the studio was in the mid 60s during the shoot of my father's movie Raja Bersiong.
I took along my family as I planned it during the holidays. When we reached the destination, what I saw was a fence covering the famous entrance to the studio. The address? No 8 Jalan Ampas. Trust Run Run Shaw to find an auspicious address for his studio.

No 8 Jalan Ampas, Singapore. This is where the former MFP Studios were. From this vantage point, the famous Siput coffeeshop used to stand.
I stepped out of the car and stared at the entrance. All locked up. This was the exact junction where once a coffee shop stood - the infamous coffee shop owned by one woman named Siput (no relation to the famous Siput Sarawak). It was here that many actors, including the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee had coffee and played dam or checkers for money.

Now, the junction is empty and nondescript. But I saw what seemed to be a fairly new pillar erected right in front of the fenced gate. I approached it and found that it was actually a signboard built to commemorate the existence of the once famous studio. On it was a photo of my father directing a scene from the movie Raja Bersiong.

I looked through the chained fence and saw the studio which I still remembered clearly. I saw a guard approaching me. He was a Malay guard. When he approached, I asked him politely if I could enter the premises to take the photograph. He refused at first as I had no official permission to do so, but when I mentioned that I was Jamil Sulong's son, he gladly allowed me access to the old studio.

The commemorative plaque to inform any passers by what this place used to be.

A close up of the plaque. Picture is of my father directing a scene from Raja Bersiong, with his loud hailer. Click on the picture to enlarge it and read the citation.
As I entered, I felt strange. Vivid memories popped into my mind. I remembered the area where my parents played badminton with the studio staff. I remembered where the studio boss's office was - he was Mr Kwek.

This building is where studio manager Mr Kwek Jip Chian's office used to be. In a few of P. Ramlee's movies, you can see the building being used as a location.
On the top floor of this building my father and the late P. Ramlee had their offices. You can still see the Shaw logo albeit without the S above the long window on the side of the building.
Blogger standing near his father's old office building. Notice the SILENCE sign on the wall. It lights up when a shoot is going on in the sound studio nearby.

A wider view of the studio. If I am not mistaken, the badminton courts used to be on the right side of this photo.
I walked around and took photos of the mostly dilapidated studio. Sadness overcame me as I wondered why this historical place was not turned into a museum of sorts.

One of the buildings still had the Shaw Brothers logo on it. And in another, film processing equipment still existed! One would have thought that after nearly 50 years, the equipment would have been destroyed or taken away, but no, it was still there. In one of the film processing machine, I can clearly see some celluloid still entwined in between reels. I wonder what movie the celluloid reels were from.

Some of the film processing equipment that I stumbled upon. See the celluloid strips still hanging in the machine.
I wanted to enter the rooms, but was afraid that I had overstayed my welcome. So, I quickly took all the shots I needed and thanked the jaga and left the studio feeling elated and yet despondent at the same time.

As the son of Jamil Sulong, I was glad to have made this journey back to the studio, and as a filmmaker, I felt that I had paid tribute to the place where it (the Malay film industry) all began. My parents were part of this history. Now, so am I.

31 comments:

Moderator said...

Ni studio yang sama dalam cerita Bujang Lapok masa P.Ramlee nak apply jadi film STAR ke???

p/s mereka duduk 1st class saya duduk 2nd class, 2nd class separuh bayaran wakakkaka

fadz said...

ohhh... so touching, its like you are Toto's long gone son, chkg out dad's miracle cinema all over again.

anwardi said...

Toto? As in the band or dog? Or Sports Toto?

anwardi said...

Moderator,
Ya. Ada scene jaga kat pintu dalam filem tu...same gate and entrance.

adam said...

I feel sad that the government bodies chose to ignore this historical place.

at the back of my mind, it's like the S'pore Film Commission seems to be wanting to eradicate the initial part of the Malay film Industry here. (Look at what our Singapore Films churning out now..)

I maybe just thinking aloud, but that's what happened when certain brown coloured skins tried to get fundings to shoot their films..

They'll just think of ways on how not to make it smooth sailing for us. Well, no one said it would be easy BUT, not even a loophole?

almost Prophetic:
mereka duduk 1st class saya duduk 2nd class, 2nd class separuh bayaran wakakkaka

sad but true...

adam said...

Dear Sir,

I would like to seek your permission in 'cut & paste' your blog entry (MALAY FILM STUDIOS, JALAN AMPAS SINGAPORE)in my blog at multiply.

Reason being: I am touched & honoured by your gesture in paying a visit here.

If you happened to drive down here again.. & if u're free, do give me a buzz.. :)
(Not to sound a bit like a stalker)

manaadam@gmail.com

lyana dalila said...

i wish to see studio jalan ampas breath again one more time...

Shad said...

askm anwardi... congrats, not many people hv the drive to actually take these shots. i'm touched myself, simply bcos i'm the daughter to aziz satar. i knew u a long time, but i dont think u know me. i've been to yr parents' hse in the 80's. anyway, i'm helping my dad type a biografi for p.ramlee and hv been looking for photos from the net. i would like to have yr permission to include these photos in the chapters relating to studio jalan ampas. looking fwd to hear from u, wassalam. TQ rgds, sandakiah.

anwardi said...

Dear Shad,
Saya baru jumpa ayahanda Dato Aziz, dan dia pun ada beritahu tentang biografinya yang sedang disediakan. Saya suka sangat kerana dia kata dia nak bongkarkan kepada semua siapa sebenar Jins Shamsudin tu waktu Jalan Ampas...silalah gunakan gambar-gambar dalam blog saya, dan jika perlu saya ada lagi gambar gambar dalam folders saya...email saya anwardi@gmail.com, shad boleh hubungi saya melalui email ini

Anonymous said...

HI there. It feels soo good to see these pictures as I too grew up playing there coz my dad H.R.Narayana was the film editor & I was so close to uncle Kwek.If you have a group photo of the Shaw Brothers team plz fwd it to me @ jayan_mohan@hotmail.com
thanks,
Jayanti Narayana

dr zuhdi said...

i've been to this studio during my visit to singapore last month...just taking pictures from outside...no security guards there...may God bless P Ramlee...love his movies a lot.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Adam's "thinking out loud" comments; unfortunately, there's nothing paranoid about them.

Today, even those young Singaporeans who have heard of P.Ramlee will be shocked if you tell them that many of his movies are in fact shot in Singapore.

To preserve, let alone celebrate this past, just doesn't fit into the new elites' narratives: It might be too potent a reminder that back in the 1950s/60s, Singapore had a sizable and affluent Malay middle class. And, by extension, already in those days it had one of the highest living standards in Asia.

So I guess we'd better play nice and stick to the tried-and-tested "from a fishing village..." mythology.

Keep up the great work, Anak Wayang. There are many more fans of classic Malay cinema out there, all over the region, than you may realize - young and old, Malay and Chinese, Asians and foreigners. God bless.

Anonymous said...

The Malaysian government should have bought that piece of land if it was up for sale....a piece of every Malaysian soul is in that piece of land..

It cannot surely be more expensive then a Sukhoi..

With the Raya season round the corner it's terribly depressing to see that fence...

EeDzu said...

Dear Sir,

I share your sentiments of No. 8 Jalan Ampas.

Today I drove my dear Mother to the studio for a walk down memory lane. She is now in her 80s. She was very excited when she got out of the car and peeked through the fences and into what used to be her work place. She was one of the studio staff who developed the films. Your mention of the celluloids and the machines brought back old memories of my Mother working away editing and printing the subtitles into the films.

As a young child, I played in the studios while my parents were hard at work. Mr Ramlee was a friend of my parents. I have many fond and sad moments growing up in and around the studios. There were 3 studios along Jalan Ampas. One at the end of the perpendicular road is still standing although now used for different purposes. The 3rd studio where my Father worked (and where the artists used to draw the movie canvasses for billboards took place) has been replaced by office buildings.

My Mother mentioned Mr Kwek before. But there were so many uncles and aunties who worked there that I can't keep count.

I am not sure if we have met but I am happy No. 8 Jalan Ampas has been left intact though slowly crumbling down.

I wish you every success in keeping your memory of your Father alive.

GOD bless you,

Anak of Mr and Mrs Wee

Anonymous said...

Dear sir,
I'm a journalist from a local Singapore newspaper and I'm unsure about how to contact you. I loved your journey to jalan ampas and wish to talk to u more about it. I don't know how to message you privately but I'll leave it in good faith to post my email contact here. Do get I'm touch with me soonest and we can have a chat. Sugarkane11@hotmail.com

Best regards
Kane Cunico

Anonymous said...

Hi Malay Movies Lovers,

I am a Singaporean. Now 60. The late Bat Latiff was my close friend. He called me Cikgu. I can sing more than 200 songs of P. Ramlee. Some said my voice is 95% close to him. Yes I have visited the MFL Studio many times. I told my sons about Jalan Ampas. Wassalam

psychedelicmundo said...

kalo ad 3 org lg mcm ni terpakse kami bikin union....

Anonymous said...

I truly enjoyed your journey by reviving the memories of Jalan Ampas. As a 29-year-old Malay Singaporean, I grew up watching Malay Classic films. Even till now, I'm a huge fan.

How I wish our government would conserve the studio as one of our Malay historical places in Singapore.

Rahman Bin Marop said...

I had been to this place on a quite a number of occasion but never got the chance to go inside the vacinity. It's quite sad to see the place was left forgotten and will be more sad that if it were to be torn down for future development. This place is one of the most historical place in the Malay Move Industry and it should be preserve! I could still sense that movie like Bujang Lapok still plays and repeated itself the moment I saw the main entrance to Jalan Ampas Studio. Lets try to contact Shaw Brothers to see if they could help into preserving the once famous studio.

mohammad irsyad said...

jadi penasaran saya dengan cerita bang anwardi tentang jins samsudin... kalaulah ada yang boleh berbagi cerita dengan saya....
Jadi penasaran nih...

E Abd Rahman said...

Kenapa jadi macam ini!! Kerajaan di sana tidak peduli ke langsung tempat itu?? So sad...

shah666 said...

kpd e abd rahman . mmg pun kerajaan spore tak peduli langsung pasal tmpt ni malah setahu saya mengikut sejarahnya mr lee kuan yew sendiri yg arahkan studio ini ditutup kerana beliau tidak suka org2 melayu termasuk artis2 jln ampas terbabit dlm union dan politik . ya dan smmgnya 'jasa' beliau ini akan terus dikenang sampai bila2

Anonymous said...

Ya,

Saya pernah ke sana. Susah juga nak cari. Jalan Ampas pendek saja. Bila terpandang no 8, rasa macam pelik betapa kecilnya studio ini. Filem2 melayu ini di ulang-ulang di RTM berpuluh kali masa saya kecil dan macam dah jadi sebahagian dari my childhood. Singapura perlu , jadikan studio ini museum, pamirkan gambar-gambar lama dan sejarah nya. Sedih bila fikirkan kemegahan dan kebesaran boleh jadi bangunan yang hampir runtuh di telan zaman dan tidak dihiraukan.

Walaubagaimanapun ini beri keinsafan pada kita, tiada apa di dunia ini yang kekal selama nya.

zul jb

http://apiqputraspeech.blogspot.com/ said...

salam blogging!
hahhaha,tgk lokasi ni teringat saya pada watak "hang cangkul"hhehehe.
dr scene tu menunjukkan yg kita desperated sgt nk jd artist.

sila ke blog sy http://apiqputraspeech.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

tempt ini sgt bersejarah bg perfileman melayu..mmg best filem dlu..mcm rgi tgok studio tu tgal cam2 je

Joseph David said...

This is very sad...very very sad!

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,

Its fantastic to see the same studio Jalan Ampas.Few shots of the photo proof that the studio were exist before and sadly today it just abondan place with no proper care.
To the writer..thanks

merican's said...

it is really like I've been there in the film. we must do something!

p/s : diaorang tengah buat filem setan. lol..

aisyah said...

hi, I am a Design student doing a project on Shaw Studio. I would like to ask you if you know how I can access into the building?

anita bidin said...

Salam...saya akan bercuti bersama keluarga ke Singapore minggu hadapan, memang dah lama sangat teringin ke Studio Jalan Ampas..bila browse internet nampak gambar2 ni rasa syahdu sbb zaman itu filem2 yang dibuat tak lapuk dek hujan dan tak lekang dek panas sehingga kini...kemudahan terhad tapi filem hebat...terutama filem2 lakonan P. Ramlee...AlFatihah untuk P. Ramlee dan artis lama yang telah pergi meninggalkan kita yang telah menunjukkan lakonan hebat pada zaman itu..

anita bidin said...

Salam, saya terharu melihat studio jalan ampas yang mana suatu ketika dahulu tempat terlahirnya filem2 hebat lakonan pelakon2 hebat....