Saturday, 14 June 2008

the death of a national hero - will we ever learn?

(edited and re-posted)

The curtains have finally come down on P.Ramlee – The Musical, season two, after 24 gruelling performances in K.L. as well as Singapore. It’s been a full-on few weeks for us, and tonight was a particularly emotional final night’s performance for the cast, especially for Musly Ramlee. For him, telling the life story of the man he idolizes so much, is more than just playing a role, and when he removed his “fat suit” for the last time after the play ended, he was in uncontrollable tears, which deeply moved everyone backstage that night.

For me, it’s been a few weeks of laughing and crying every night and watching a bunch of amazing talent and energy at work onstage, giving their very best for every performance.

I must share with you the moments that stay with me the most each night I leave the theatre. Sure, I love the funny moments in the show like when Ramlee marries Junaidah, when the Shaw Brothers do their thing, when Saloma enters the studio with her big white sunglasses and sings Senandung Kasih with Ramlee, and then the magical “Gelora” scene when they fall in love. But what really stays with me and affects me the most are the scenes starting from where the MFP (Malay Film Productions) studio closes down, and the Shaw brothers tell P.Ramlee he is being transferred to Merdeka Studio in Kuala Lumpur. Its heartbreaking for me being a artiste myself, to see the pain in Musly's eyes, playing P.Ramlee, seeing his whole world fall apart, with the passing of that order. The rest of the play then shows the beginning of the downfall of a genius, and his films, his music and the passion he dedicated his life to.

Moving to Kuala Lumpur and trying to recreate the same magic as in Singapore, was the most frustrating and heartbreaking point in P.Ramlee's life. In Singapore, all the enabling factors for him to create good work were in place. In KL, he lacked the support of the management of Merdeka Studio, budgets were cut, and politics killed the spirit of our most creative and talented star ever. Most heartbreaking was when we heard about an incident where the great P.Ramlee was actually BOO-ed off the stage during a performance at the Chin Woo stadium. This was the once great man who has 66 films and 300 unforgettable songs to his name; the man a queen left her palace for, the man whose life story my friends and I have chosen to share with the generations of today and tomorrow.

P.Ramlee was a success because he was "color blind" and made films that Malaysians and Singaporeans of all races could relate to and willingly came together to support. He was not perfect, just like any of us mortals, but he was good at what he did and he could rally a one-ness in spirit no filmmaker or artist can today. Then came the separation, and with it, all the chaos that follows when a country's political and economical situation is in crisis. As a result, nobody was interested anymore in doing anything for the film industry.

P.Ramlee was a victim of the changing of times. What’s intriguing is, did he have the ability to re-invent himself to go with the flow of change? It seemed inconceivable with the enormity of his talent and creativity that he could have been that easily defeated. He would have been one of those that could have mastered that change. But I believe it wasn’t just that challenge of change that he had to deal with, it was all the other exogenous factors that were the breaking point for him – the jealousy, politicking, BUREAUCRACY (sigh, why is this strangely familiar even TODAY...) the back-biting and the system that failed to support him.

P.Ramlee was a true artist who lived and breathed for his art. He was marginalized by people who were not driven by the same passion, spirit and commitment he had. They could not take the industry further themselves. They were just destructive, the kind of people who trip others and humiliate them when they fall.

When I think about what worked for both Puteri Gunung Ledang as well as P.Ramlee (the two stage musicals), it had a lot to do with our being able to bring the best people together, working in harmony towards a common cause.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could turn back time and create the same environment for P.Ramlee in his day, getting people to rise above their personal egos, pride and other agenda, and to work together cohesively for the good of the higher purpose, the industry.

The killer of all killers though, has to be this evil demon called “Dengki”. I don't know why some people seem to have perfected the art of practicing it, when they should have instead focused their energies on improving themselves. It has nothing to do with the spirit of competition, not in a fair sense, anyway. It existed back then, and the sad thing is that it still exists today - in business, entertainment and not to mention politics! It has to do with the tragic mindset of "if I don't make it, nobody else should!"

I wish they would realize what we really need is to create more CHAMPIONS, more success stories, and provide a supportive environment for those with genuine talent, belief and commitment to thrive. This way, we will have the pleasure of seeing those who are capable to be inspired, encouraged and fully realize their potential, and hopefully this will create many more great Malaysians like P.Ramlee.

Greatness is not always meant to be recognized during one's lifetime, I guess, just as in the case of other geniuses like Van Gogh and Mozart. If I may take this to a “bigger-picture” level, we should take a leaf out of the sad ending of P.Ramlee’s life story. Let it be a lesson to us about being grateful for and appreciative of what our country has been blessed with. We are far luckier than many of our neighbours to be free from continuous natural disasters and worse still, political and economic disasters. It could easily happen if we don't wake up and smell the roses whilst they're in bloom. I love this country and I would do anything for it, from my tiny insignificant corner. There's still today, and tomorrow, for us to cherish what we have now.

As the "Shaw Brothers" sang in the musical, "otherwise, what more can we do?" (What to do?) Sigh...


ms hart said...

My dear Tiara, I was reading your thought with deep emotion...I felt you, and I felt more and more patriotic as I went along your words...I could feel the eyes welling too...but suddenly I saw your "Sekian, undilah saya"...adoooi....tergelak-gelak, tergelak-gelak....still not finished yet...ha ha ha...YOU aaaa...!! Of course "kami semua undi anda" (and undi BIG TIME some more!!!!)ha ha ha

My Darling Diary said...

Setiap baris, setiap kata, dihitung dengan airmata. Menitis airmata saya membaca penulisan itu. Begitu mulianya hati saudari kepada yang bernama P. Ramlee. Al-fatihah buat arwah. Walaupun tidak pernah mengenali P. Ramlee secara peribadi tetapi saudari telah berjaya menghidupkan dan mengabadikan kisahnya kepada kami. Tahniah buat saudari.

tiara jacquelina said...

dear ms hart and my darling diary, i shouldn't have that much time on my hands to be blogging, at that hour i am usually at the theatre giving notes to my team about the previous night's performance so that every day the show gets better. entah macamana petang tadi tergerak pulak nak "curahkan perasaan". i thought i may as well go with the flow. that is the sad truth about how quickly we forget the jasa, sweat, tears and hard work put in by one person to build the industry we enjoy today. i can only hope that it inspires others like you to stop to think and hopefully help prevent other losses like this from happening AGAIN. as they say, you don't know you've got a good thing in your hands until you've lost it...

by the way ms hart i have read your column in Glam, thank you again, i proudly take an extra curtain call bow on behalf of the wonderful 200 something ppl who have put in their own hard work, sweat and tears into making you so proud of them...

chedd.eddie.yusoff said...

Ms TJ,

this is your best-most sincere thought you ever blogged... this could have been the foreword for the newly released P Ramlee coffee table book also...

tiara jacquelina said...

hi chedd...

well i guess this hit me at the right time right place... its always been at the back of my mind but i never had time to sit still long enough to focus on writing it out properly. i've re-worked it again since you last read it though. pity i missed using it as a foreword in our coffee table book, but hopefully it might get printed somewhere sometime. in my memoirs maybe, when i'm old and gray, ha ha!

Ola said...

Hi Tiara,

I am from Singapore. Are you saying that there will be a part 2?

Is there any way I could catch the Musical again? Apparently I missed the Musical when it was in Singapore.

Pls let me know.


tiara jacquelina said...

hi mira

tmrw night will be the final night for p.ramlee season 2 in KL, i don't think we will do a singapore season 2 anytime so soon.

deE said...

dear sis Tiara.
i like theater.especially yours.
my parents always brings me to see your artwork.PGL and also the latest,PRTM-2.
one day i would like to be like you..or maybe working with you in the theater field.
how can i become one?
i've been in some dramas as extras.and now..i am so into theater.i can act and sing.but i have nowhere to show that.

Design said...

no more ticket for tonite final show :(. anyway u can sneak 2 in? he he :)

melepas to see PRTM for the 2nd time!

i felt sad when learned that p ramlee got booed in KL (first time tau pun from PRTM a few nites ago)

in my mind, i can't help but think, typical of Malaysians... bila berjaya, kita sanjung, but bila gagal, habis kita keji. like we don't take into account jasa2yang dilakukan sebelum ni.

congrats on PRTM success!


ezza said...

hai tiara,
saya telah menonton teater PRTM musim ke-2 ini sebanyak 3 kali. Saya sungguh teruja dgn teater ini. TAHNIAH!!TAHNIAH!!TAHNIAH!!TAHNIAH!!DAN TAHNIAH!! KEPADA SEMUA YG MENJAYAKAN TEATER PRTM INI. Adegan yg betul2 menyentuh perasaan saya dan buat saya menangis adalah adegan yg terakhir. SAYA BENAR BENAR BERHARAP KEPADA GENERASI SKRG DAN YG AKAN DATANG TIDAK AKAN MELUPAKAN BELIAU!! INSYAALLAH...
Dan satu lagi, saya benar benar berharap dapatlah kiranya teater PRTM musim ke-2 ini dijadikan VCD atau DVD. Saya pasti akan ramai yg membelinya terutamanya saya dan juga kepada mereka yg tidak dapat menonton teater tersebut kerana kehabisan tiket.

Tetapi, adakah PRTM musim ke-3??


Dear Datin Seri,

P. Ramlee asked: Di mana kan kucari ganti?

His search had ended. We thank him and we seek Allah’s blessing for his soul.

But as time passes our search becomes more difficult and the hope of a success grows ever slimmer.

Maybe we are wrong in trying to find a “pengganti.” Maybe there’s not going to be a replacement for P. Ramlee or there shouldn’t be one.

Let us hold him dear in our hearts for what he was and for all that he had contributed to the world of arts – for making us laugh, sing and dance, for making us cry and, above all, for making us proud that arts knows no colour, race and creed.

I can’t confess to be a cultured person. My attendance at theatres had been few and far in between.

Last night was one of those rare occasions and, in all sincerity, I thank you and Datuk Seri Affendi for bringing P. Ramlee back into our consciousness.

Mungkin orang seperti Datin Serilah yang dicari oleh P. Ramlee sebagai pewaris seni. Tahniah.

Your P. Ramlee the Musical makes many poignant statements about P. Ramlee the man, his dreams, achievements and failures, about the golden era of the Malay movie industry.

And above all your rendition of P. Ramlee makes a very strong political statement – that the Malays are kind, talented and friendly; the very same qualities that subject them to exploitation – social, political and commercial.

I grew on the artistic diet of P. Ramlee – of Azizah, Engkau Laksana Bulan, Lagu dan Irama, Anakku Razali…. the days when life was a lot simpler.

Your P.Ramlee the Musical brings back memories and nostalgia that, I believe, make many grown women and men cry.

Thank you and congratulations. Congratulations too to your talented and dedicated cast and crew. They are of world class (remembering my brush with “Evita” and “The Phantom of the Opera in New York a long time ago).

Biarkan obor seni menyala dan panji-panjinya berkibar sentiasa demi bangsa dan negara kita Malaysia.

Thank you.

Ola said...

Hi Tiara,

Its me , Mira frm Singapore. When you say you are not doing in Singapore anytime soon, you mean you will right? Eventually?

Tsk. I cannot travel all the way to Malaysia. I'll be busy working...

Mira (again)

*cosmic freak* said...

Dearest Tiara,

I second Chedd on that. The foreword of a Coffeetable Book.

P.Ramlee was my third musical, first was Hang Li Po then PGL. I might be biased just becos I know some of the main cast personally, but the show was phenomenal. I didn't manage to catch the first season, but it was such a priviledge to watch the second one. Everyone was superb, from the main cast to the last man who adjusted the audio, everyone deserves a standing ovation, for their commitment, effort and determination in pulling off such a great production.

We grew up watching P.Ramlee movies, maybe for a 25 year old, not to the extend of breathing his movies, but very much acquainted to many of them. Having to read your blog and relate that to the musical, this is what we need in Malaysia, preservation of history that builds the people who we are.

I worked once for a Foundation that preserves national history, and when you're doing it as your job and you understand the mission, you feel the attachment.

My hero, Tun M once said, "If we don't know where we're coming from, how would we know where we're heading to?" It applies in the entertainment industry as well. We come from a generation build by P.Ramlee (movie-wise). If we get his essence in film-making, we know where we can go in the future.

Much respect, and CONGRATULATIONS on such a great production.

My only regret. Couldn't get tickets for my parents. Hopefully there's next time.

Becky Ng said...

Hi, kak Tiara. So what are you planing to do next? I really look forward in knowing it... Pls reply.

tiara jacquelina said...

Dato' kadir,
i'm most humbled and flattered you found time to read my blog, let alone leave a comment.. thank you for your most kind words of encouragement.i can't imagine anyone ever referring to me as pewaris seni p.ramlee. will keep working hard to live up to that kind of expectation.

dear Dee,
thank you for dropping in.. i'm also flattered that i can be of some inspiration to the younger generation, i guess i have your parents to thank for exposing you early enough. best thing is to look out for courses or workshops on acting. the actors studio or KL pac sometimes organize them, otherwise listen out for enfiniti's next STARMAKER bootcamp, who knows we may do another one in the coming few months. stay posted to my blog for more info or if you have facebook,be chedd yusoff's or my FB friend and join the Friends Of Enfiniti group to hear about our next few workshops...

irfan and ezza,thanks for dropping in too. there won't be a season 3 so soon, and no we aren't planning to release a dvd of the show, POSSIBLY the original cast live recording CD but we'll have to see if we can get it distributed properly first.

sorry to disappoint you but we don't have plans to do another season of P.Ramlee in singapore... POSSIBLY PGL next year, but not P.Ramlee.

dear cosmic freak
so sorry to hear you didn't get tix for your parents, that really is a shame as i noticed there was a different trend of theatre audiences for P.Ramlee season 2, many people came with their elderly parents and that was really lovely for us to see.

love your quote on tun M: "If we don't know where we're coming from, how would we know where we're heading to?". That's absolutely what its all about;similarly,i guess you wont even know how far you need to go if you never knew where you stood,to start off with.

dear becky,
thank you for the way you seem to have such high regard for my work - i can only hope to continue to live up to your expectations. i don't know what i'll be doing just yet, to be honest... still in "recovery" mode from P.Ramlee, it really took a toll on me mentally, physically and even emotionally, going through the whole roller coaster of emotions every single night. keep watching this space, i guess, for updates. i think the next thing i have agreed to do is something really light that i enjoy, judging "so yo think you can dance" on july 10th - catch me on TV i guess..

ezza said...

hai datin seri tiara,
berharap sangat dapat buatkan CD utk semua lagu-lagu yang ada di dalam teater tersebut. Lagu lagunya best sgt.CD PRTM sudah saya miliki walaupun hanya ada 3 lagu sahaja tapi cukup utk mengubat rindu sementara.
harap harap tercapailah cita cita untuk memiliki satu lagi CD PRTM(Live Show).

*cosmic freak* said...

Yes, I heard all the parents who went love it so much. I guess the best thing about anything, is when you can connect and relate. I guess thats where the regret came from. Need better planning. Plus I forgot my dad is now a senior citizen, he cud've gotten the senior citizen discount! By any chance, will it be on a dvd set, like limited edition gold cover dvd set that comes with the OST? Hehehe. Yes, we always want more!

and I do agree "similarly,i guess you wont even know how far you need to go if you never knew where you stood,to start off with.". Personally I see you as a driving force for people to pursue their passion with the utmost determination and effort.

Shahrul Hafiz Teh said...

wow...this is what you call work with passion and you will execute perfectly

Ieza said...

nk tny ... spt PGL ..PTM ada cd soundtrack tak? tq

Becky Ng said...

I've checked out some of your older movies and I think that they are pretty cool. When are you going to reprise your princess role in PGL again?? I really want to see that again......

tiara jacquelina said...

dear ezza and ieza

belum tentu lagi kami akan terbitkan cd rakaman album penu... sebenarnya saya ada hasilkan satu cd rakaman show penuh tapi cuma di beri kepada para pelakon dan tenaga kerja kreatif sebagai kenangan titik peluh mereka, bukan utk di jual. kalau ada rezeki dan kami dapat cari jalan terbaik utk cd itu diedarkan, insyaallah.. nanti saya akan khabarkan mealui blog ini. sementara tu kalau berminat, you boleh dapatkan buku hard-cover "behind the scenes at p.ramlee the musical" dari MPH bookstores.

dear shahrul
i feel people should always and only ALWAYS choose a job they feel passionate about, otherwise its going to be an awful case of makan gaji buta without feeling for what you're doing. only if you yourself can see the good that you are doing and how your job no mater how big or small can touch or change the lives of other people, can you really find true meaning in going to work every day.

we have received requests from singapore, japan and istana budaya in KL to put PGL on stage again, so keep your fingers crossed for (hopefully) positive updates k.

thanks for dropping by my blog, you guys.. take care.

ezza said...

Disana sini skrg ramai yg bercerita ttg teater PRTM. Kawan kawan saya di pejabat ada yg menyesal tak sudah tidak pergi menonton teater itu. Pagi tadi di MHI TV3, Ally Iskandar pun sungguh teruja bila bercerita ttg teater P.Ramlee The Musical. Sesiapa yg menonton teater tersebut saya rasa tiada siapa yg tidak puashati, semuanya berasa puas. Ada yg ingin pergi lagi menonton. Sekrg di pejabat, setiap hari saya akan mendengar lagu2 dari CD PRTM yg saya beli.

Saya juga berharap dapat dikembalikan sekali lagi teater PGL di Istana Budaya.

Sekalung tahniah pada Dato Seri & Datin Seri!!

(*harap2 ada rezeki utk memiliki CD lagu2 sepenuhnya dari show tersebut)


oppochott said...

Dearest Tiara...
I catch PTM kat Esplanade, and sempat gak catch the last show kat Istana Budaya!
Walaupun twice i nonton, tapi maseh nak tgk lagik! Biler the soonest it will show again?

Getting Musly to play the role of P Ramlee makes me terbyg2 depan mata arwah Tan Sri P Ramlee. Suara..rupa..gerak geri...its all in Musly. U're cool Musly!!

I nak dapatkan soundtrack for all the songs sung kat the pementasan tu...mana boleh dapatkan?

To all the crew that menjayakan PTM Season 2 -- GREAT SHOW! U guys are the BEST!
To Tiara...i'll be waiting for more of ur works. U're a genius!


Anfaal Dhiyana said...

Thanks!i will keep posting and reading posts thru your blog.and for sure i'll be adding your FB and chedd yusoff's.thanks again..
im really looking forward for the STARMAKER.cant wait to be part of it!

m azlan mn said...

Dear Tiara, I would just like to say congratulations and thank you for PRTM season 2 at Istana Budaya. The show is not only for PRamlee lovers but also for theater lovers. I went not expecting anything other than a boring sing song and a bit of stage acting. Was I surprised by the show. When I told friends, relatives of what I saw,heard and felt at PRTM, they said that is the norm or the standard of Tiara's shows. For me, it was a great "escapism" from my condition. Thanks for a great time and will definitely go to other shows by you.