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Sunday, May 29, 2011

BERNAMA : P. Ramlee, A 1Malaysia Icon

KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 (Bernama) - The very mention of the name P. Ramlee ( 22 Mac 1929 - 29 Mei 1973) brings to mind images from his films, melodies from his song and his refreshing humour that provides good-natured laughter for Malaysians, young and old.

Tan Sri P. Ramlee
Tan Sri P. Ramlee, or his real name Teuku Zakaria Bin Teuku Nyak Puteh, who died 38 years ago at the age of 44, was not only an icon in his era, he continued to inspire people long after his death.

He had been directly involved in the production of 60 films and 360 songs, an immensely prolific achievement and a testimony to the man's commitment to his art.

P. Ramlee started his career nearly a decade before independence and went on to become a prominent figure in the country's entertainment industry during the nation's formative years.

His presence remained felt even as the country marches to become a developed nations, looming large in the collective consciousness of the people, who now see him as not only the country's entertainer extraordinaire, but also an icon for 1Malaysia, the concept mooted by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to rally Malaysians to unite and march together as one.

Even with no one proclaiming so, P. Ramlee's works, particularly his oft-repeated films and oft-played evergreen songs, have been nudging the people towards celebrating their diversity.

As one of his fans, Zainab Bujang, 68, of Sarawak, puts it, the legendary artist had been portraying the face of 1Malaysia in his films decades before the concept was mooted.

In a relatively short career, spanning 24 years from 1948, P. Ramlee had been a keen observers of the Malaysian society and translated it into the silver screen and in the lyrics and melodies of his songs.

"Not only that the casts in his films are multiracial, his ideas are also acceptable to all races," she said, lending credence to the notion that P. Ramlee had been nurturing the very spirit which the 1Malaysia concept wants to nurture.

Among P. Ramlee's films in which elements of 1Malaysia can be seen are "Seniman Bujang Lapok" produced in 1961 and "Gerimis" (1968).

In Gerimis, P. Ramlee played the role of Kamal, a budding painter, who fell in love with an Indian dancer, Leela.

What may be gleaned from the movie is that mix marriages in a multi-racial country like Malaysia are nothing new, and that the various races should not be suspicious of one another.

Declaring that he had been a fan of P. Ramlee films since he was young, Aswandy Hassan said that only now the significance of certain characters or scenes were becoming clear to him.

"P. Ramlee films are full of elements of 1Malaysia. One example is the scene in 'Anak Bapak' depicting three people representing different races visiting the house of their Malay friend who has died," he said.

Aswandy, who works in the hotel industry, said the funny scenes and jokes in P. Ramlee films remained entertaining to this day, even to non-Malays.

Private sector employee, K. Ramachandran, 32, said P. Ramlee films had their own appeal, and they had somewhat popularised the Tamil language among Malay viewers.

"Through his films, we also get to know more about the Malay culture and understand its inherent uniqueness," he said.

He said based on feedback from his own community, Ramachandran said that P. Ramlee films had also become popular among Indians due to similarities with regard to family and social issues.

S. Jegathesan, 43, said his family enjoyed watching P. Ramlee films on TV, hollering with laughter at the funny parts and pondering the issues being highlighted in the movies.

"Each character in his film such as Ibu Mertuaku and Enam Jahanam are unique. I never get tired of his movies despite watching them over and over, said the collector of P. Ramlee movies and songs.

Chan Kim Leong, 47, said his whole family enjoys P. Ramlee films too, especially those which combine Chinese, Malay and Indian actors.

"I've known of P. Ramlee at a young age and my father, who knows almost all of his movies, is his number one fan," he said adding that the lessons found in P. Ramlee movies teach the importance of respect and appreciation of all races.

Meanwhile, former Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore, Datuk N. Parameswaran, is also a fan of P. Ramlee and has analysed the uniqueness of the icon's films and touching songs.

He said Malaysians need to rewatch some of P. Ramlee's films as they can foster the spirit of unity among the country's multi-racial society, especially among the Malay, Chinese and Indian.

In an earlier interview with Bernama, he was reported as saying that films by the legend could teach Malaysians on how to live in happiness and harmony like in the 60s and 70s.

Gerakan secretary-general Datuk Ng Chiang Chin is of the opinion that P. Ramlee should be named as 1Malaysia icon for his contributions.

"We know that all races in Malaysia are entertained by the works of P. Ramlee which may look simple and at times funny, but actually contains a lot of meaningful lessons," he said.

P. Ramlee movies should be shown again to the public because it will teach them to appreciate multi-racial harmony and "allow our people to laugh at one another," he added.

He said: "It is true what they say ... to move forward with confidence we sometimes need to look towards the past in order to be strong and to avoid repeating past mistakes."

"Let's all immerse ourselves in the ideas brought about by the 1Malaysia icon. We have already been given reminders through his work," said Ng.



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