ICONS BRING

New Straits Times - - Letters -

BORN more than 80 years ago, P. Ram­lee left a per­ma­nent mark on the cul­tural his­tory of Malaysia through his artis­tic achieve­ments. The pro­lific ac­tor, di­rec­tor, writer and mu­si­cian con­trib­uted to more than 60 films and com­posed about 250 songs.

Af­ter his death in 1973, Malaysians kept his legacy alive by hon­our­ing him with post­hu­mous awards and nam­ing halls, mu­se­ums and other build­ings af­ter him.

P. Ram­lee taught us to re­spect one an­other, re­gard­less of po­si­tion or race. In Sen­i­man Bu­jang Lapok, one of the char­ac­ters, Sudin, hails a Sikh se­cu­rity guard by rudely call­ing him “Wooi”. The guard, whose name is Singh, mum­bles, “Nama saja orang Me­layu, itu adab pun tak tahu, (He calls him­self a Malay, but has no man­ners).”

Many of us loved P. Ram­lee’s movies. Dur­ing my teenage years, I used to stay at my late grand­mother’s house in Sen­tul Pasar dur­ing the school hol­i­days, I would watch the movies as of­ten as I could when­ever they were aired.

I re­mem­ber call­ing out to my

P. Ram­lee, Sudirman Ar­shad and David Aru­mugam have pro­moted unity through art.

grand­mother when­ever the movie was on. Although she could not un­der­stand Ba­hasa Me­layu, she would sit glued in front of the tele­vi­sion. Truly, P. Ram­lee

movies were pic­tures that painted a thou­sand words.

It did not mat­ter if the per­son is Malay, Chi­nese or In­dian, but when­ever you speak about the

late P. Ram­lee, chances are their faces would light up and there would be glo­ri­ous sto­ries to tell.

Such was the magic he had. His movies brought to­gether Malaysians from all walks of life. Just as the movies pulled at our heart­strings, they also brought hoots of laugh­ter.

I would not do jus­tice if I fail to men­tion the singing lawyer, the late Sudirman Ar­shad, who pos­sessed the same charisma and abil­ity. He wooed Malaysians with his ren­di­tion of Tamil ac­tor MGR’s song, Puthiya Vaanam. And, who can for­get those clas­sic songs Chow Kit Road and Ba­lik Kam­pung?

On the flip side, we also have an­other leg­endary icon, afro hairstyled David Aru­mugam and his band, The Al­l­ey­cats.

The band has been ren­der­ing Malay songs since the 1980s, which are of ster­ling qual­ity and cap­ture the hearts of mil­lions of Malaysians, young and old.

All of these artistes send the mes­sage of to­geth­er­ness, unity and di­ver­sity.

Malaysia is three scores old. Let us hope for a dy­namic na­tion for many more years to come — Ne­garaKu, Tanah Tumpah DarahKu.

FILE PIX

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