Singapore’s own secret agent

12 05 2010

For all my brushes with Malay cinema in my early childhood which came to me on the black and white Setron television set whilst sitting beside my Bahasa Indonesia speaking grandmother, I somehow never realised until much later that there was a lot more to watch beyond the horror flicks in the form of 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 Jins Shamsuddin, our very own home grown secret agent came my attention, perhaps due to a greater awareness brought about by having been caught up with the double O seven craze that was sweeping through the school. My own introduction to Mr Bond was towards the end of my primary school days a few years before that, which came in the form of an Ian Fleming novel Dr No, which I received as a Christmas present.

Mat Bond Title Scene

Somehow, it was another local version of Bond that caught our attention as secondary schoolboys. Jefri Zain was perhaps a little too Bond like for us, and it was our Mr. Bond, the Secret, Secret Agent, Mat Bond that many of us became fans of. Mat Bond was a parody of James Bond and perhaps Jefri Zain, produced by a rival studio of the one that was producing Jefri Zain.

Mat Sentul as Mat Bond navigating through the bobby trapped opening scene.

Back in the fabulous fifties and swinging sixties, Singapore’s movie making industry was in its heyday, with two film studios the Shaw Malay Film Productions and Catahy Keris competing for the Malay speaking market. There were some fabulous productions, mostly made in black and white that had audiences enthralled, and out of this came productions such as Jefri Zain produced by Shaw and Mat Bond by Cathay Keris. We were great fans of Mat Bond, played by Mat Sentul, a Singaporean comedian known in the 1980s for his role as the title character Mat Yoyo in the popular Malay children’s television programme. He was never without his trusty umbrella – his secret weapon, which more often than not, came to his rescue when he found himself in a difficult situation.

Escape from being held in an aeroplane - Mat Bond flushes himself out of the toilet and uses his trusty umbrella as a parachute.

What made us fans of Mat Bond was perhaps the hilarity that the character brought, or perhaps the delivery of wonderful guitar soundtrack by The Pretenders, a Malay Pop Yeh Yeh band. The opening scene was brilliant and possibly set the mood for the parody, as we see Mat Bond navigating through a bobby trapped passageway, to reach a toilet where he pulls on the flush and down the toilet goes, into a secret chamber below. The most memorable scene had Mat Bond being held in a passenger jet from which he escapes by flushing himself out of the plane’s toilet, and once out into the air, his trusty umbrella opens as a parachute. I can’t help but think back to the many times I watched Mat Bond in action with a smile on my face. I certainly was grateful we had our very own secret agent, not for ridding the world of evil, but for giving us more than a few chuckles.



4 responses

15 05 2010

What attracted me to catch a glimpse of the movie trailers and advertisement in those movies was not the image of “James Bond” but those busty-looking Minahs. I do know that when it comes to movies, Minahs love to reveal themselves in low-cut kebayas and tight-fitting/elastic pants (for lack of a better word). Even our neighbour Malaysia in the early days also had similar movie trailers/advertisements.

16 05 2010
The wondering wanderer

Peter, guess that was in keeping with the swinging sixties!

14 08 2010
Jeffery Abdullah

Talking about our very own Singapore Malay version of James Bond, I have watched the VCD of the movie titled “Gerak Kilat” (Operations Lightning) starred by Dato Jins Shamsuddin back in 1966. A very interesting movie I must say. 🙂

11 11 2010
Where legends of the silver screen had once set foot on: No. 8 Jalan Ampas « The Long and Winding Road

[…] of the studios did come back to me only recently, when I, in recalling the comical antics of Mat Bond, which was produced by the rival Cathay Keris studios, also remembered our very own more Bond like […]

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