Tuesday, September 15, 2009


I have written this many times before. When I was a film critic with NST I also mentioned this before and was immediately slammed by many parties.
I really don't care what these P. Ramlee fanatics think lah. What worries is that our TV stations seem to be giving the wrong impression to the current generation. It is as if there were no other filmmakers of note in the 60s and 70s apart from P. Ramlee.
Everyday I tune in there's bound to be a P. Ramlee movie - either on RTM ker, Media Prima Channels ker and/or the Astro channels.
Only once in rare while, they screen a non-P. Ramlee movie.
I am not saying that P. Ramlee movies are not good..most of them are evergreen classics. Especially the comedies. But movies like 6 Jahanam, Damak and his last movie Laksamana Do Re Me are really tiresome fare done when he was not a happy filmmaker.
P. Ramlee acted and directed in some 66 movies during the glory days of Malay films. However, there are more than 500 movies available for screening on our TV from the vaults of Shaw Brothers and Cathay Keris (Cathay).
Classics from the same era include movies directed by Hussein Haniff, Jamil Sulong, Omar Rojik, Salleh Ghani, . Roomai Noor and S. Sudarmaji. Movies not directed by Malays include those directed by Ramon Estella, M. Basker, B.N. Rao, Phani Majumdar and L. Krishnan.
So many of this film classics do not reach the masses. It was as if only P. Ramlee's movies are worth watching.
During this coming Hari Raya, I do hope the stations screen more golden classics...but not the P. Ramlee ones. Yes, I know that there are those who say 'kita tak jemu jemu tengok filem P. Ramlee'....they should instead start saying 'tak jemu jemu tengok filem Melayu klasik'.
When, for example, did you get to see classics like Istana Berdarah, Samseng, Laksmana Bentan, Raja Bersiong (both versions), Mahsuri (both versions), Pontianak (many titles), Mat Sentul and his whacky comedies, Lancang Kuning dan Masyarakat Pincang? Hardly ever.
I guess the obsession with P Ramlee has even overtaken the cyber space. If you check Wikipedia under List of Malaysian films (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Malaysian_films), it seems our Malay movie history before the 80s is dominated by P. Ramlee. No mention of Omar Rojik, Mat Sentul, Jamil Sulong, Hussein Haniff, Salleh Ghani and such. I am sure this oversight is related to the over-emphasis on P. Ramlee's contributions to our cinematic history on television.
It is also strange that this obsession with P. Ramlee is basically visual. P. Ramlee was also a prolific composer and song writer, but his songs does not overwhelm the airwaves like his movies do on TV.
Strange too that people keep thinking that P. Ramlee directed three of his most beloved movies - Sergeant Hassan, Anakku Sazali and Hang Tuah. Hassan was directed by Lamberto Avellana (a legendary Filipino filmmaker) whilst Tuah and Anakku Sazali was directed by Phani Majumdar.
Also sad too, that the media obsession is so Ramlee-centric, that his wife, Saloma, a legend in the history of our music industry, has since become more of a footnote to P. Ramlee's life.
Saloma deserves her own place in history. Even a book about her would suffice. Or even a mini-series or movie about our original Diva.
Whatever it is, it would really, really be nice if we can enjoy the creative contributions of other filmmakers of the 50s and 60s from Cathay Keris and Shaw Brothers. The TV stations should really stop relying on P. Ramlee's short list of about 60 movies to entertain us. Especially only a few are true cinematic classics.

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