Thursday, October 20, 2005

P.Ramlee is one of Malaysia's most loved Malay actors. He set the trend of a singing actor back in the fifties. Since then, there had been no one who has been able to match his prowess as a singer as well as an actor who could reach people across racial lines.
P.Ramlee was one of those rare shining lights in the Malay film world. He died at a relatively young age but he lef behind a lifetime of memories. Till today, his songs and films still rule the airwaves and the silverscreen.

P.RAMLEE - The Bright Star
AUTHOR: James Harding and Ahmad Sarji
PUBLISHER: Pelanduk Publications

P. RAMLEE died at the relatively young age of 44 in 1973. In a career that spanned about 25 years, P. Ramlee left behind a cinematic legacy that has no equal in the Malay film industry.
Generations of Malaysians from across the ethnic divide have grown to love him and his evergreen songs.
This book is a rare find because P. Ramlee is a "lagenda" in his community, and there are not many books written in English about Malay film stars.
In the 1950's and 1960's, P. Ramlee was king of the Malayan cinema. His songs were played incessantly over the radio. We all loved the way he sang. Somehow, his melodious vocal chords won over our hearts.
P. Ramlee struck a common chord among the three major races. In several of his movies, Ramlee depicted the mannerisms of the Chinese, who he had come to know so well from his growing years in Penang. For that, the Chinese, in large numbers, adored him.
The Indians also liked him because he often projected himself as a friend who easily crossed the racial divide with ease and joy. Much as a bon vivant would wont to do. Many of his films and songs also had a distinct Hindi flavour.
This book, a collaboration between retired lecturer James Harding and former government chief secretary Ahmad Sarji, is a well-organised treatise on the man born Teuku Zakaria Teuku Nyak Puteh who was later registered in school as Ramlee bin Puteh. This was further modified to P.Ramlee.
It is interesting to note that the men who had great influence over P.Ramlee in his early acting years were well known Indian directors like L.Krishnan, Phani Majumdar, B.N. Rao, S. Ramanathan, K.M. Baskar and B.S.Rajhans. Ramlee's favourite Hollywood actor was Stewart Granger.
But as this book reveals, what separates P. Ramlee from those who came after him
is his songs. The actor crooned his way into the hearts of his generation of admirers. Many of his hit songs, written and sang by him, had lyrics and tunes that would gently jolt listeners to reminisce about the bygone days and a country that held a charm that bound all the different communities as if by magic. Part of that magic, as this book puts it, is P. Ramlee.
Songs like Getaran Jiwa have that special melody that glides quite smoothly across the racial plain and establishes an understanding beyond language.
This tome of many lesser known facts will thrill present-day Ramlee admirers with its charming revelations. The many famous actresses whom P.Ramlee wooed on-screen; the bujang lapok who became his lifelong friends, and those like Jins Shamsudin whom he helped along the way.
P. Ramlee - The Bright Star is also a good reference book. There are 22 pages detailing P. Ramlee's films and songs from 1948 to 1972.
Many who grew up listening to Ramlee's songs and watching some of his 63 films will agree that the actor/singer is a performer nonpareil. His voice still enchants whenever his songs are played over the airwaves. Truly, one song that P. Ramlee sang decades ago can now be aptly applied to him: Di Mana Kan Ku Cari Ganti (Where would I look for a replacement).

1 comment:

Andrea Peterson said...

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Chris Albritton of Back To Iraq does a bit of investigative journalism using the revision tracking features of a Word document.
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