Friday, June 5, 2009

SHOULD RTM BE DOING WHAT ASTRO IS DOING?

I heard from friends the good things (in terms of content) that ASTRO is doing. For example, the 8-episode mini series on national hero Rosly Dhoby. It doesn't matter (for the time being) if the production is of quality or not, whether it is accurate or not. What matters is that it was done.
Rosly Dhoby's story is a story waiting to be told. And now, through Astro's new initiative, we get to see the story of one of our most unsung heroes - Rosly Dhoby.
What is this new initiative in ASTRO? It seems they have been commissioning a few production houses (albeit some of these houses have business links with ASTRO) to produce a slew of titles based on both historical fact and also legends.
From what I gather, some of the titles or subjects they have already earmarked for production apart from Rosly Dhoby are: The story of Sybil Karthigesu, the now forgotten Japanese Red Army attack in AIA in the mid 70s, the story of Mokhtar Dahari, the story of the 'agreements' made between the Tunku and his counterparts in MCA and MIC during the early days of independance.
The local legends that they will be doing are the legends of Si Tanggang and Mahsuri. I also heard they may be doing a revisionist take on the legend of Hang Tuah.
I applaud ASTRO for embarking on such an ambitious project. In fact, such projects should have already been done by RTM a long time ago.
Unfortunately, for the general public, the series (each title has 8 episodes I was told) will not be seen by most. Unless of course you subscribe to the new Mustika package from ASTRO.
This is sad because not only will this defeat the purpose of making quality programming not publicly available, but putting it in a a new Malay-themed subscribed channel on ASTRO, means non-Malays would also be missing out on viewing and enjoying these mini-series.
For example, I haven't subscribed to the MUSTIKA package, and have no plans to do so. So I will not be able to see Rosly Dhoby on TV - until maybe someone puts it up on Youtube.
But ASTRO, is at the end of the day, a commercial entity and they have to make money in order to make more quality content...so its become a Catch-22 situation.
The obvious solution to this is either ASTRO screens the series in the already available channels that most of the subscribers alraedy have or for RTM to start producing such programmes for the general public to watch.
Isn't nation building, factual education and edutaining the masses are RTM's objectives?
I remember once offering to produce a telemovie based on the last days of Dato Sagor, whom I consider another national hero that has gone into history's sidelines. But when I told them it would cost RTM RM300,000 to produce the story, they balked. They said they wanted it but was only willing to pay RM120,000 (at the most). This is the same budget the offer producers to produce their modern social dramas. I guess they don't understand that for me to do justice to the story of the last days of Dato Sagor before he was hung for his so called crimes I need believable sets, props and costumes.
So, I rejected the offer.
So when will RTM follow in ASTRO's footsteps and do mini-series based on important and interesting incidents and events in our colorful history?
Can I suggest a few topics or subjects if they cannot get their panel to get their act together?
  • A remake of Bukit Kepong.
  • The Massacre of Australian soldiers and Bengali fighters by the Japanese at the beginning of World War II at the famous Parit Sulong bridge.
  • The Batang Kali massacre of innocent Chinese villagers by the British (or Scottish) soldiers during the Emergency.
  • The Story Behind the Baling Talks.
  • The Tragedy of the Highland Towers Collapse.
  • The Secret Meeting Between Sukarno, Hatta and Ismail Yaacob in Taiping just Before the Second World War Ended Which Could Have Turned Malaya into Indonesiaraya or Melayuraya.
  • The Story of Tok Naning - the only Malay warlord to have defeated the British.
  • The Story of Korok Wan Mat Saman - the man behind the construction of Tanah Melayu's longest canal.
  • The Story of Za'aba - our own Pendita Za'aba.
  • The Story of why Tunku allowed Singapore to leave Malaysia.
  • The Story of Super Crime Fighter the late S.Kulasingam.
  • The Stories of P. Ramlee and Saloma.
  • The Story of the Shaw Brothers.
  • The Story of Force 136
  • The Stories of Kanang anak Langkau and Awang Ranang.
  • The Story of Yap Ah Loy and Yap Ah Sak.
  • The Story of the guy who created an empire called Ramly Burger.
  • The Story of Panglima Kiai Salleh.
  • The Story of ASAS 50.
  • The Stories of S. Jibeng, S.M.Salim and Daud Kilau.
  • The Story about the death of Bangsawan.
  • The Story of Dr Burhanuddin Helmi.
  • The Story of Natrah Herthog.

And the list goes on and on and on and on....

Anyway, whilst we applaud the efforts of those TV stations that are planning to produce such mini-series on Rosly Dhoby et al...it would also be heartening to know that the creative force behind it wer also Malaysians. Again, the whole exercise in doing Malaysian themed mini-series would be muted and meaningless if the creative force are foreigners. Not that I am saying that this is the case.

I just hope it isn't.

3 comments:

Ajami Hashim said...

Salaam incik anwardi,

ep#1 dah ada yg 'share' kat youtube >> http://www.youtube.com/user/kdpaha

p/s: alang2 sewa jer RM12.95/bln bro! ahahaha!

Chee Yeong said...

FYI, all the mini series that you have mentioned (Rosly Dhoby, JRA etc...) will be aired on Astro Prima some time in the future, once they have completed their run on Astro Citra. This may be 9-12 months in the future.

You are right that Astro is a commercial entity and as such require commercial considerations in its content strategy. But Astro is also keen on providing quality stories like these mini series to showcase our history, culture and taste.

anwardi said...

Chee Yeong,
You sound like someone fromt he PR Department of ASTRO. Your comments and clarifications are most welcomed. However, the word 'quality' here may be debated. Hahaha. Anyway, if you are from ASTRO, kudos for at least trying to do something. How come you never mentioned anything about foreigners (if there are any) involved in these productions?