Your Weekend Entertainment: With YUNA


February 15, 2014

Your Weekend Entertainment: With YUNA

In the 1970s, a young artiste from Johor achieved a great success as an entertainer abroad. He gained fame in PARIS, France. He is Shake (and later Dato Shake). Here is the song, Tu sais je t’aime, that him brought into the limelight in Europe. Dr. Kamsiah and I met him a few years back at the wedding of a friend’s daughter when he performed this song.  There was no turning back for him, and we wish him well.

imageDr Kamsiah and Din Merican

Dato Shake

Dato Shake in 2011

Recently, a teenager, whose parents are our close friends introduced us to a young lass from Subang Jaya who is a singing sensation in the US. She is YUNA, and for this weekend’s entertainment we feature her exclusively starting  with Gelora Jiwa, her tribute to the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee. We hope you like our selection.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

YUNA

Extra- KRU and P. Ramlee-Getaran Jiwa

Repeat Performance–Katrina Dahari

Sorry Riza Aziz, your Mom’s Money can’t buy everything


January 23, 2014

Sorry Riza Aziz, your Mom’s Money can’t buy everything

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Buying over the rights and financing a film does not actually qualify one as a producer. At least not according to Hollywood’s premier motion picture body, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In what the industry views as a “rare move”, the Academy yesterday dropped Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s stepson Riza Aziz from the Oscars nominations list for best picture nominee, Wolf of Wall Street.

Instead, in the list of producers nominated for the US$100 million film are director Martin Scorcese, lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio, Riza’s business partner Joey McFarland and Scorsese’s partner Emma Tillinger Koskoff.

The list of nominated producers for the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ was finalised by the Academy yesterday, a week after the other nominations were announced.

This marks a departure from the Producers Guild Association, that nominated Riza as producer but not Scorsese and DiCaprio, for the controversial film about debauchery in the world of finance.

According Deadline Hollywood, DiCaprio had worked to get the film to screen as producer for six years and had roped in Riza and McFarland’s fledgling production company Red Granite Pictures, that fully financed the venture.

Red Granite then purchased the rights from Warner Bros and was caught in a legal battle with the original producer Alexandra Milchan for compensation. The matter has been resolved out of court.

Responding to the Academy’s announcement, Red Granite, in a media statement, said it will not contest the decision and that Riza is honoured to have been part of the project. Riza is the son of Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor from her first marriage.

The movie has been banned in Malaysia, and his financing of the film has drawn scorn from right-wing Malay supremacists Perkasa.

Hollywood disdain

Meanwhile, whistleblower Sarawak Report as part of its expose on Riza cited “Hollywood insiders” as saying that the decision to dump Riza follow industry concerns over financiers “attempting to claim producer credits for films they bankrolled but did not make”.

“They are greener than green,” one “experienced producer” told Sarawak Report of Riza andRiza and J Low McFarland, whom the portal reported previously acted as party planned for Malaysian wheeler dealer Jho Low (right).

They are financiers, but have also taken producer credits. The producer credits have gone to Riza, Joey and some other producers, but the actual work is being done by people working for Red Granite and the other producers,” another unnamed “senior Hollywood producer” is quoted as saying.

Those in the know credit Milchan as the main driver for the film, having procured the rights to the Jordan Belfort (the jailed financier played by DiCaprio) story and commissioned the script before the project was taken up by Warner Bros.

Insiders say it was her who roped in DiCaprio and Scorsese, despite the Red Granite duo claiming to have done so in media reports, citing their friendship with the Hollywood heartthrob. They also claim that that Milchan “came back and took over” after Warner Bros dropped the film and then sold it to Red Granite.

“It’s common knowledge. That is what producers do, but Red Granite just bought over a done deal. They aren’t what I would call producers, they are financiers and money men,” one insider said.

Industry professionals told the website that while the film cost US$100 million, publicity and marketing would have cost an additional US$35-40 million. The film has grossed US$80 million so far, the insiders said, but producers only get a fraction of the takings.

“The threatre keeps 60 percent and the studio 40 percent, then there are all the payments before the producers get anything back,” one Hollywood professional is quoted as saying.

Deep pockets

Insiders also revealed that the film was not “pre-sold” for three months after it started production, and everything was on Red Granite’s expense. Sarawak Report noted that the new kids on the block’s deep pockets have also set tongues wagging, with seasoned professionals questioning the rookies’ ability to raise so much funds.

It also reported that there is speculation that Riza was cut by the Academy over comments by “close friends” in Malaysian media which could be viewed as anti-semitic.

The Malaysian Gazette, a portal run by a journalist close to Riza’s mother Rosmah Mansor, quoted these “close friends” as saying that Riza should be celebrated for “breaking the monopoly of Jews in Hollywood”.

Riza, it reported, has never made any overt statements of bigotry but such sentiments by Riza’s “close friends” and his failure to “disown” the remarks have “appalled the liberal and egalitarian community in Hollywood”.

“Many of Hollywood’s high flyers are indeed rightfully proud of being Americans of Jewish heritage. However, America is passionately committed to success through merit, unlike in Malaysia, where it is increasingly complained that only certain well-connected families can expect to monopolise money-making opportunities.”

Sarawak Report had earlier exposed that Riza had purchased a US$17.5 million ((RM58.21 million mansion) in Hollywood, after purchasing a US$33.5 million (RM110 million) apartment in New York in 2010.

It reported that Riza, 36, worked with HSBC Bank in London for three years before making his Hollywood bid.

 

 

Your Weekend Entertainment


January 4, 2014

Your Weekend Entertainment

din and Kam New YearWe open this year’s weekend entertainment with keroncong music. What is this kind of music?We checked it out on the net and got this:

“Keroncong originated and developed in Java with great Portuguese influence using the ukelele and other stringed instruments. It was brought to Malaysia from Java in the 15th century. One style of keroncong which developed is called ‘langgam jawa’ which uses many of the rhythmic patterns heard typically in gamelan music along with the pelog scale. In this style there is a great amount of gamelan influence.

In its original form, it consisted of songs sung with the accompaniment of the Indian sitar, the rebab or bowed chordaphone, the suling or bamboo flute, the gendang, kenong and saron of the gamelan ensemble, and a gong. Today, these instruments are sometimes replaced by the guitar (for sitar), violin (for rebab), modern flute, cello (which takes on the role of the gamelan instruments) and the bass (which substitutes the gong).

Modern keroncong groups may even include the accordian and the vibraphone to add extra colour. The vocals however still remain traditional, based mainly on the Javanese pelog or slendro scales. Keroncong style music is also found among the repertoire of nationalistic Malaysian songs, as well as modern day pop-influenced tunes”– WIKIPEDIA on Keroncong

We feature a number of well known keroncong singers for this weekend. Let us start with Kartina Dahari (Singapore’s First Lady of Song), followed by Rafeah Buang (Malaysia), Hetty Koes Endang (Indonesia) and Khatijah Ibrahim (Malaysia’s Singing Sweetheart). Have a good weekend and relax.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Kartina Dahari

Rafeah Buang

Tribute to Din’s Ibu

Hetty Koes Endang

Khatijah Ibrahim

Tsunami of Price Hikes


January 2, 2014

Tsunami of Price Hikes In Malaysia Truly Asia

by Balan Moses@http://www.thesundaily.my

Balan MosesTHE pain that many fear will envelop them from a prospective tsunami of price hikes has yet to kick in but rest assured that the inevitable will take place.

I am sorry to start the year on a pessimistic note but false optimism will get us nowhere. We, the people at large, have to discuss the matter and collectively work with the government and private sector to get us out of this veritable pickle that we find ourselves in. Malaysians are bracing for increments ranging from power rates to tolls that have crept up on us all of a sudden leaving many afraid that their slender financial resources may not be able to weather the storm.

How is it that everyone (I exaggerate, of course) is rushing, in concert it appears, to charge us more? Has fair play (and fair prices) been thrown out the window? In reality, higher charges for a myriad goods and services have been our constant companions since last year with many not really feeling the pinch due to the manner in which prices went up intermittently by a fraction.

Much like the proverbial frog in water that grew warmer gently but surely until the heat became unbearable. In truth, our ringgit buys less today than it did last year. And it appears that this will very much be the trend in the foreseeable future.

What then is the fate of the ordinary wage earner whose purchasing power is diminishing at a faster rate than the annual increase in income? Not exactly encouraging news given the warning a couple of days ago that some employers may be giving smaller bonuses and salary increments this year.

At Dataran Merdeka--Price Hikes Protest -31-12-13Price Hike Protest-December 31, 2013

And certainly not palatable information to the many retirees from the public and private sectors. Government pensioners are not exactly ecstatic every time there is an across the board hike in public sector salaries as pensions do not appear to keep pace with price hikes.

As for those who retired from the private sector, the outlook appears rather bleak as jobs become increasingly hard to come by at their age.

Some of those depending on Employees Provident Fund savings to get by fear that their money may not last them for too long with medical exigencies making their unhealthy presence felt and old age imposing its costs in so many other ways.

So where does that leave the average consumer? I think it is time that consumers organise themselves better to avoid getting a raw deal from traders at all levels.

I am not besmirching the honest traders who make reasonable profits by giving the consumer a fair price for a product or service. Not for a moment do I begrudge traders their fair profit as they too have families with all attendant costs. My beef is with profiteers who use any excuse for a better profit.

Malaysians have to identify the areas where they spend the most and seek to keep costs at reasonable levels. I use the word “reasonable” as I am cognizant of the fact that we do not live in a vacuum with international price trends directly affecting our economy.

Be that as it may, the time has come for middle Malaysia (the rich may not arguably feel the pinch like the middle class and poor do) to sit up and take an active interest in the mechanics of price hikes. I am sure there are retired economists, entrepreneurs, consumerists, academics, statisticians and managers with a reservoir of experience who can join hands to identify the way in which prices are increased.

They can also point out to government areas of unjustified increases in prices for the executive to act on. They can also work with the private sector to rationalise price hikes. I am curious about how much profit traders make in any sale or transaction.

Is there any authority that keeps tabs on these things or is it a laissez-faire system where everyone makes as much profit as they want? The argument may be made that no one is forcing anyone to buy at a particular shop or outlet. Willing buyer, willing seller as the saying goes.

And therein lies the rub as unwilling buyers are now forced to buy at willing outlets that don’t mind inflating prices as they have a captive audience.

Is there a choice available to consumers? Not really. Those in housing estates are at the mercy of sundry shops that charge 20-30% more than some supermarkets which in turn charge 20% or more than hypermarkets.

Can we have a directory of enterprises for the consumer to refer to for fair prices? Can someone get this going on the internet for the public good? There are a whole raft of things that the consumers can do if we put our collective mind to it. Remember. We are a potent force who can make or break businesses.

Even as I delve into the litany of woes facing the average consumer, I want to highlight the plight of the poor who earn meagre salaries and are struggling to make ends meet. The poor will always be with us and it is incumbent on everyone else to come to their aid, irrespective of their race or religion.

Poverty strips everyone of their dignity and right to a decent life. As Alexander Pope’s immortalised saying “hope springs eternal in the human breast” resonates in my mind, I want to end on a similar note.

I pray that Malaysians journey through this year as best as they can given the strength of human spirit which can rise to the occasion as and when necessary. Happy New Year.

I RETURNED from abroad last Saturday, landing at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) in the wee hours of the morning. As three flights landed at almost the same time, the pedestrian lanes were busy with passenger traffic.

The joy of returning home was, however, marred by a number of things that could have been avoided if those in charge of the airport had done their job that day. The first hurdle was the fact that the escalator was out of service. I saw old men and women struggle with their hand luggage as they climbed the flight of steps with no one to help them.

Malaysia 2014

As we stood in line at the immigration checkpoint, the manual line seemed to move faster than the autogate when logic dictates that it should have been the other way around. We later found that only one gate had been opened for three plane loads of exhausted people.

The baggage carousel area was another disaster as hundreds of weary travelers tried to keep their cool as they tried to negotiate around a sea of trolleys. Clearly the place was not made for a large crowd. If anyone thought that this was the end of their woes, they were sorely mistaken.

The taxi line was overflowing with passengers, some with children, with nary a taxi in sight. The attendant on duty told me that this had been the case the whole day. I know that the LCCT is a no-frills area but please have a heart for those who use it. We are not second class travelers and deserve the same conveniences available at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

Not that some of those landing there are not complaining either. A friend flew in the other day with an aged relative and was unable to find a single trolley. The other problem was that not one premier taxi was available.

I believe we have the infrastructure in place at our airports. It’s just that monitoring is below par. Let’s hope that Visit Malaysia Year 2014 will not be marred by these hiccups in an otherwise good system.

Balan Moses, theSun‘s executive editor (news), like many other Malaysians, feels for the poor, the underprivileged, the disabled and those barely keeping their nose above water. He wants to galvanize Malaysians to put their best foot forward to help the underclasses live decently with pride and dignity even as those blessed more in every respect do their bit for their lesser Malaysian cousins. Feedback: bmoses@thesundaily.com

Your Final 2013 Weekend Entertainment


December 28, 2013

Your Final 2013 Weekend Entertainment

Friends,

Din and Kam2This is the final weekend for 2013. We think it is appropriate to close our 2013 weekend entertainment session by bringing back some great ladies of song of a bygone era. Let us start with Joni James, followed by Doris Day. And then we bring on Rosemary Clooney, Ella Fitzgerald and Dinah Washington. You will probably agree with us these personalities, each in her inimitable style, have left an indelible mark on modern popular music and jazz.

Please have  a good New Year. Despite the tough times ahead, we all have the strength of character to withstand the pressures that can come with the rising cost of living.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Joni James

Doris Day

Rosemary Clooney

Ella Fitzgerald

Dinah Washington

Your Weekend Entertainment: Let’s Go Country


November 23, 2013

Your Weekend Entertainment: Let’s Go Country

Kamsiah and Din2It is the weekend again. Dr. Kamsiah and I have chosen to play some country hits for you, our friends and associates. For this purpose, we shall start with Slim Whitman, the yodeling cowboy who is Din’s favorite country and western entertainer of the 1950s. He is followed by the great Johnny Cash who was dominant in country music in 1960s and 1970s. Rickey Van Shelton is next. Although less known in Malaysia, Ricky has a fabulous voice. Listen especially to his rendition of From a Jack to a King and you will know he is very popular in the US. 

Finally we bring on John Denver who passed on tragically in a plane crash some years ago. We dedicate Take Me Home, Country Roads to our very good friend, Ambassador John R. Malott and his dog, Max. We also take this opportunity to wish him and all our friends in the US happy Thanksgiving.  It is appropriate for that occasion for us to feature Placido Domingo and John Denver rendering Perhaps Love. Great weekend to all, wherever you may be at this time.–Dr.Kamsiah and Din Merican

Slim Whitman

Johnny Cash

Ricky Van Shelton

John Denver

Weekend Entertainment: The Fabulous Voices from Nusantara


November 16, 2013

Weekend Entertainment: The Fabulous Voices from Nusantara

Well, we are back with music for the weekend. HowKamsiah and Din quickly time flies as we pass September and are now midway in November, 2013. Dr Kamsiah and I feel the time is right for us to feature the fabulous voices from Nusantara. Appropriately, we start with Sheila Majid, the first Lady of Malaysian Jazz with her popular hits, one of which is a tribute to the incomparable P. Ramlee. Ruth Suhanaya follows with 3 songs that made her famous and popular in her country and Malaysia.

Din brings back his favourite Indonesian pop artist of the 1960s, Lilis  Suryani and dedicates Titiek Puspa’s Kupu Kupu Malam to Semper Fi who is in far away Los Angeles.  Relax and enjoy yourselves. We leave politics aside briefly.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Sheila Majid

Ruth Sahanaya

Lilis Suryana

Titiek Puspa sings Semper Fi’s Favorite

Extra–Billy Paul

Weekend Entertainment: Back t0 the Good Old Days


November 9, 2013

Weekend Entertainment: Back t0 the Good Old Days

Dr. Kamsiah and I feel that for this weekend’s DDM and DDKamsiahentertainment we should go back in time–to 1960s and 1970s–and feature the voices of Malaysian singers like Ahmad Daud Hashim, Zain Azman, Zainal Abu and Wan Salman. Let us not forget Johor born Dato Shake who found fame and fortune in Paris, France with his hit song, Tu sais je t’aime. We think it is also appropriate to feature Kembara and M.Nasir who made the pop charts in 1970s with their hit song, Express Rakyat.

May the tunes we present for listening pleasure bring back sweet memories of what used to be the simple life of the average Malaysian. Keep well. 2013 is nearing its end and we must now reflect on what 2014 will bring us.–Dr Kamsiah and Din Merican

Ahmad Daud Hashim

Zain Azman

Zainal Abu

Wan Salman

Dato Shake

Kembara and M. Nasir

For Your Weekend Listening Pleasure


October 12, 2013

For Your Weekend Listening Pleasure

It’s the weekend again. Dr Kamsiah and I have chosen to bring in two ddm and kghlegends of music, Paul McCartney and Barbara Streisand. We also present a tribute to George Harrison of The Beatles. Let us have a good weekend by listening to some wholesome music.

May the music lift up our spirits when conventional wisdom tells that this is not the time to relax given the state of our country, especially when we know that the same faces from UMNO will be re-elected at the party elections. Both Khairy Jamaluddin and Shahrizat A Jalil are UMNO Youth Leader and Wanita UMNO Chief respectively. We can be certain that Zahid Hamidi will be one of the Vice Presidents.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Paul McCartney at The White House

Barbara Streisand

In Honour of George Harrison

Your Entertainment for the Weekend


October 5, 2013

Your Entertainment for the Weekend

DDM and DDKamsiahWe start this weekend’s musical entertainment with Tony Bennett, the man with a golden voice. He was recently in Kuala Lumpur where he performed for his Malaysian fans. Unfortunately, we were not at this sold out concert to listen to Tony live.

After Mr. Bennett, we feature the King of Rock N Roll, Elvis Presley, with some his familiar songs. Both Elvis Presley and Johnny Mathis are featured here from the first time and we hope their songs can bring back fond memories of those times when our hearts were young and gay. Earl Grant who is an organist and pianist with a great voice sings three songs that have been identified with him. Enjoy yourself and relax. –Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Tony Bennett

Elvis Presley

Johnny Mathis

Earl Grant

__________________

October 6, 2013

We thought of Ahmad Daud and Zain Azman. Semper Fi remembers them just as much as Din does.

–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Your Weekend Entertainment


September 22, 2013

Your Weekend Entertainment: Featuring Nat and Natalie Cole

Dr Kamsiah and DMFor this sabbath morning, we feature Nat King Cole and his lovely daughter, Natalie Cole. You can note that Natalie has the talent of her late father (dec. 1965) and more. Also please listen to our special guest Billy Paul’s rendition of Me and Mrs. Jones  So let us start the music as the show must go on, despite the dirty politics we witness everyday here in Malaysia.

Expect more in the coming month since UMNO goons will be in town in their suits and blazers with laptops, state of the art handphones and generous pocket money from candidates for elected posts. They will be at the UMNO General Assembly, Putra World Trade Center,Kuala Lumpur. While they will be backstabbing one another and shouting ultra Malay nationalist sentiments, they are doing multimillion ringgit deals with gullible Chinese businessmen. It is very comical to see this Malay sandiwara and wang kulit (see pic below). All the best.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

umno-tikam-belakang

Nat King Cole

Natalie Cole

Billy Paul–Me and Mrs Jones

Let us have some entertainment this weekend


September 14, 2013

Let us have some entertainment this weekend

Friends,

Dr.Kamsiah and I have not been in the right frame of mind for manyddm and kgh weeks because of what is happening to our country. Our politics sucks, but nothing is more ridiculous than the conduct of our former Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad at the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Project IC hearings a few days ago.

Mahathir lied and lied; he was in contempt and then he went on to insult our intelligence with his cynicism. Yet no one at the RCI including the Commissioners dared to warn him that he was under oath to tell the truth, nothing but the truth. Sad indeed. But because of persistent requests to resume my DJ role, I have chosen some tunes for you. I am unable to consult my better half.

Dr. Kamsiah is away in Lisbon, Portugal and will be very shortly will be taking  the plane on the way home after attending an intensive course at the Palo Clinic for the last week. I will be reunited with her tomorrow when she arrives at KLIA at 15.00 hrs.

Let us start with one of my favourite tunes, the one from Vince Hill. I also feature Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley and Perry Como and Joni James. Please have a great weekend. –Din Merican

Vince Hill

Sam Cooke

Elvis Presley

Perry Como

Joni James

Entertainment from New York


June 23, 2013

Waldorf-Astoria, New York City

lady-liberty-from-down-up

Entertainment from New York

Gee whiz, this 12 hour time difference between New York and our favorite city Kuala Lumpur is very disorientating. Thinking it is still Saturday when in fact it is 2.00 am on the sabbath here in Big Apply while your time in Kuala Lumpur is 2.00 p.m.  Sorry for missing a bit.  Mr. Bean is not around. He will  appear on this blog when we are off to Washington DC. So we will miss meeting an old Alor Setar friend.

Kamsiah and Din2Dr Kamsiah and I dedicate this week’s choice of melodies to all Malaysians who are still camping at Padang Merbok. Keep well. We admire your determination to further the cause of Malaysian democracy. We support the demand for electoral reform and the resignation of the two goons at the Election Commission, Aziz and Wan, for treachery to our country and making a mockery of our democratic rights. But there is only one advice we offer you.

Please keep the place clean so that the authorities (DBKL) will not have grounds to deny you the use of public places for peaceful purposes in future. Never give the authorities the pretext to hit back at you. That calls for patience, consideration and discipline.

We open this weekend session with a tribute to you, ourFrank Sinatra fellow citizens camping at Padang Merbok at this time by the Scorpions. Keep your spirits up. Change is hard to come by but it will come. We need to keep our democracy alive and well so that we can rebuild our beloved country into a model of freedom, justice and unity amidst diversity in ASEAN.

For now enjoy Alicia Keyes, Billy Joel, Harry Nilsson and Barry Manilow. Since we are in New York, it will not be complete if we failed to present New York’s favourite son, the Hoboken born Frank Sinatra.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

Scorpions

Alicia Keys

Billy Joel

Harry Nilsson

Barry Manilow

Frank Sinatra

Latifah Omar Dalam Kenangan


June 15, 2013

Latifah Omar Dalam Kenangan

Your Weekend Entertainment


June 15, 2013

Your Weekend Entertainment

image

Dr Kamsiah and I will be leaving for the Big Apple in a few days’ time; after that we will proceed to Washington DC. While New York, we hope we can meet Mr. Bean and renew our friendship. Being in DC will be particularly special to me since I will be taking Dr. Kamsiah to the US capital to where I was educated in 1968-1970.

The DC trip will be my first since I left this lovely city more than four decades ago. We will be visiting The George Washington University and The George Washington School of Business and meeting friends.

For this weekend entertainment, we kick off with a tribute to New York. Billy Joel’s hit is particularly poignant. After that tribute, we present for your listening pleasure unforgettable ladies of jazz from a bygone era. Listen to Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald and Rosemary Clooney. May our choices please you.–Dr. Kamsiah and Din Merican

New York, Here We come

Billy Joel


Dinah Washington

Sarah Vaughan

Ella Fitzgerald

Rosemary Clooney


Remembering Latifah Omar


June 15, 2013

Remembering Latifah Omar: An Actress of My Generation

Latifah Omar, born in 1939, was a very popular actress of my generation. She had great looks and the talent to go with that. Her passing was indeed a sorrowful occasion for those of us who enjoyed watching her on the silver screen alongside  P. Ramlee and Nordin Ahmad.

Men and women of my generation are fading fast. Not many of us will leave footprints in the sands of time. Latifah Omar is one of those exceptions. She  made it in the movies. Her personal life as related in this piece by Johan Jaafar is a sad and tragic one. But it would appear that she had endured a lot in her life outside the  movie world. May she now find eternal peace. Al-Fatihah.--Din Merican

______________

Latifah Omar, A True Bintang Filem

by Johan Jaafar@http://www.nst.com.my

BITTER SWEET: Her life story as a woman, wife and film star is as dramatic as her movies

Latifah-OmarTHE lift was devoid of an electric bulb. We depended on camera lights to get to the 17th floor of a PPRT flat for the hardcore poor where veteran actress Latifah Omar lived.

I joined the TV3 crew on the morning of July 20 last year for a special Singgah Sahur programme. She was friendly and exuberant, and even sang some of the signature songs in many of her better-known movies to the largely young production team.

The stuffy three-room flat was home to one of the most glamorous, beautiful and talented seniwati (starlets) in the history of Malay cinema.She was, in fact, once the face of a famous soap brand, the first local artiste to be given the honour.

Residents in the area knew of her presence there but they seldom saw her. She was a proud lady, fully aware of her fame and kept her contact with the residents to the bare minimum.

I met her with researcher Zahari Affendi many times after that, listening to her incredible stories as a woman, wife and film star. Although not in the best of health, she was always accommodating. We were mesmerised by her demure and calm composure.

Her life stories were as dramatic as her movies, in fact, even more so. She was always playing a good woman who was victimised in movies. In reality, life was never perfect for her.

She endured hardships in marriages, went through tough times financially and emotionally just like some of the characters she played.

I grew up adoring Latifah. I watched all her movies. She was the embodiment of grace, true beauty and great acting.I was contemplating to write a book about her. She was forthright and named names — the good, the bad and the ugly in entertainment business.

When I couldn’t make it, Zahari was there to record those stories. The process was laboriously slow for she tired easily and there were times when she cancelled the meetings.

Back then, she was loved by royalty and prominent individuals, yet she married a musician, a gambler and a failed businessman.Her first husband survived on her income as jobs were hard to come by.

Her second husband, a compulsive gambler, stalked her for years even after their divorce, adding to her miseries.Her third husband was a good man but when his business faltered, she suffered more than just losing a good life and she got a divorce.

Even when help came in the form of getting a piece of land in Cameron Highlands, bureaucratic hurdles and low prices of crops propelled her to abandon farming and sell what was left of the property. She never recovered from that.

Latifah was born on March 26, 1939 in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur. When her grandmother, who brought her up, died, she was sent to live with her father in Singapore, whom she had never met before.

It was a feature in one of the magazines published by the Utusan Melayu group in Singapore that brought her to the attention of film directors.

Director S. Ramanathan auditioned her for a role in Panggilan Pulau alongside budding star P. Ramlee. The year was 1954. Normadiah, another legendary actress, was the female lead. Ramlee was nice to Latifah, supporting her in more ways than one. She was forever indebted to him. She was hardly 16 at the time.

B.N. Rao directed her second movie, Merana.This time, she played the lead actress, again with Ramlee.

According to Latifah, the heartthrob of Malay movies had offered her to be his wife. Ramlee had just divorced his first wife, Junaidah. But fate intervened. Noorizan Mohd Noor came into the picture, she left the palace and married Ramlee. They respected each other, though.

When Ramlee directed Putus Sudah Kasih Sayang at the Merdeka Studio in 1971, he offered a role to Latifah. Latifah acted in four more films under the Malay Film Production (MFP) banner before she joined Cathay-Keris Films.

It was Nordin Ahmad, another screen legend, who redefined her movie career. She acted with Nordin for the first time in Hussein Hanif’s Hang Jebat. The chemistry between them was legendary. In films like Lanchang Kuning, Laila Majnun, Cucu Datuk Merah, Patung Cendana and Gurindam Jiwa, they were seen as a perfect screen couple. The truth was, there were times when they were not on speaking terms.

Latifah’s last film with Cathay-Keris was Naga Tasik Cini in 1966, ironically Nordin’s directorial debut. In her acting career that spanned 13 years, Latifah had acted in 29 films — 22 for Cathay-Keris, six for MFP and one for Merdeka Studio in Klang.

Last Sunday she died, a big loss to the Malay cinema. There will never be another Latifah. She was a true bintang filem (film star) who graced the local film world.