P. Ramlee

23 05 2009

In the days of console television sets, P. Ramlee melted the heart of many women with his screen persona and singing in the numerous movies he acted in. The talented Malay musician, songwriter, actor and director was also a favourite of my grandmother, keeping her entertained in black and white, on the many evenings we spent in front of the television. I was maybe a little too young to appreciate P. Ramlee and his movies, and I never could quite understand what all the fuss was about. For me, the daily diet of Vic Morrow in Combat was what I looked forward to each evening. Besides P. Ramlee, my grandmother was also drawn to some of the local horror movies, a favourite of hers were the “Pontianak” movies. The Pontianak, a blood sucking female vampire of sorts, was the ghost of a woman who died in childbirth. If the thought of something like this to a six year old wasn’t scary enough, the many visual representations of the Pontianak were even scarier. My grandmother added a lot of spice to it as well with her many stories of encounters the villagers of her childhood village in Java had with the Pontianak. It was fortunate that there was a lot more of P. Ramlee being screened than Pontianaks.

The untimely death of P. Ramlee saddened my grandmother greatly – she shed a few tears when she got the news. I don’t remember much more about that except seeing the photograph of the large crowds at his funeral procession under a headline on the front page of the Straits Times.


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26 03 2010
Revisiting the Ramayana « The Long and Winding Road

[…] would sit with her through whatever kept her amused her on the television set. Besides the doses of P. Ramlee and Pontianak movies which seemed to be regular features on the few television stations that existed back then. Another […]

12 05 2010
Singapore’s own secret agent « The Long and Winding Road

[…] the Pontianak, or maybe the Orang Minyak (Oily Man), and the occasional ones featuring the crooning P. Ramlee. It wasn’t until I was in secondary school that the exploits of Jefri Zain played by Jin […]

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