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Kampung Pictures Daily Remembering the man who glued a nation
Remembering the man who glued a nation PDF Print E-mail
Written by straits-mongrel   
Saturday, 29 May 2010 00:55

The sirens must have screamed that early dawn 37 years ago, the ambulance racing along Jalan Genting Kelang in a frenzied state towards KL's General Hospital. He never made it there alive. His heart had stopped and a nation's heartbeat flat-lined when news broke out that same morning on May 29, 1973.

P Ramlee, 44, had died.



In his prime, he held the steering wheel on the local film and music scene. Ramli Puteh @ P Ramlee was an actor, director, singer, songwriter, screenwriter and was as prolific as they come; he was involved in 390 songs and 66 films, four stageplays, two radio dramas and two TV dramas.


He was complex man, a human being with flaws bundled within the talent.

Wrote Johan Jaaffar, a columnist with NST, in 2008:

But he was no longer in his prime some years before his death. P. Ramlee was a fading star, booed by younger audiences in concerts, marginalised by the artistic fraternity and more often than not, was facing financial difficulties.

Yet in his heyday, P. Ramlee acted in many memorable films, directed some of the greatest movies the land has ever known and composed and sang some of the most popular tunes ever heard.

Indeed, time has a way of teasing out timelessness - where giants again stand tall because of their genius. P Ramlee's work was glue. It bonded the social fabric of this country, made us sing along with his songs, and laugh and cry with his black-and-white movies.

Born Teuku Zakaria Teuku Nyak Puteh in Penang on Aidil fitri 1929 (March 22), P Ramlee moved to Kuala Lumpur and settled in the then-new suburb of Setapak. The single-storey bungalow at Jalan Dedap was acquired by the government and since 1986 has been presented as the P Ramlee Memorial. Here visitors can view a host of memorabilia belonging to the entertainment icon from his typewriter to his wardrobe.

pramlee6Credit the folks at the National Archives for having heart, but honestly, the Memorial is a woeful attempt at capturing the spirit of a man and his achievements. The renovations (latest in 2002) are poor in concept, full of neon-lights kitsch, and have completely gutted the original layout of the home.


You don't get the awe of entering the abode of a man who gave so much to his generation. You don't see how he and his family lived. The home has been reduced to a cheapened shell. If anything, this ought to be a case study of what NOT to do when creating memorials. Which is a pity because there is good material on the man and his work inside.



To think this was the typical design of houses in the neighborhood. Humble, graceful, on a quiet street off the main road. Why can't some designers leave well alone?



But they do have his car there, a humble Datsun Sunny 1200 with 81,801 miles chalked on the odometer and a cigarette lighter that looked very used (see first picture).



Some displays are touching, in particular the correspondence of his wife Saloma, written while she was on a concert tour in Thailand. It gives a clue about the ups and downs of the man's career. They seemed so loving. They sell souvenirs there at the Memorial - if you're a big fan, you can even get copies of his IC, caps and cutesy buttons of the man and his wife. They were indeed Malaysia entertainment's first power couple.


On this day 37 years ago, P Ramlee the Malaysian glue-meister died. Let's remember the good times with this one song. More than that, let's aspire to be glue ourselves.


More info:

P Ramlee Cyber Museum - perhaps the best resource centre on the internet.

Wikipedia - brief but good account of the man and his life.

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Only registered users can write comments!
SAJ  - He Was a True Blue Anak Bangsa Malaysia |2010-05-29 14:05:41
Once again a beautiful story by Ambrose reminding us of a wonderful,true blue Anak Bangsa Malaysia.

What SABm will do to have P.Ramlee as our Ambassador-at-large!

Thanks a million Straits mongrel...
Karl |2010-05-31 02:45:01
beautiful man! getaran jiwa,my god! kenapa takda artis melayu buat lagu mcm ni dah
angelique  - Unforgettable |2010-06-17 09:35:31
The incomparable and dashing P. Ramlee who also showed Malaysians that side of oour lives which reaches out to another human being.

He sang about love and his pictures were a litany to the never ending search for love life and living.

Where have all the P. Ramlees gone in present day Malaysia?
Last Updated on Saturday, 29 May 2010 03:03

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