I'll never forget watching Pak Ajis movies

I'll never forget watching Pak Ajis movies
P. Ramlee, S. Shamsudin and Datuk Abdul Aziz Sattar in Seniman Bujang Lapok (1961).

My social media feed was abuzz with activity when I woke up yesterday morning.

Datuk Abdul Aziz Sattar had died.

It was sad news, especially for someone like me who grew up on endless re-runs of his classic movies.

I'll never forget watching those movies, as it was the perfect bonding tool for my brother and me (who grew up speaking English) and my grandmother (who spoke only Malay).

But the movies didn't just tickle the Malay funny bones. Indians, Eurasians and Chinese audiences laughed along.

The movies were not just a depiction of Malay life. It was life for all back then.

Pak Ajis' movies were of struggles in everyday kampung life and the need for cooperation to overcome them.

It was of class struggles and the need for humility among the rich. It was of finding humour in everyday life that people back then could all relate to.

Judging by the outpouring of grief on social networks like Twitter, it seems no one has forgotten Pak Ajis' movies.

It is also a reminder of the enduring appeal of movies from the heyday of Malay cinema and the messages within.

Let's not put gloss on it: Watching most of the Malay movies can be a painful experience, with overwrought action scenes or comedies marred by an embarrassing line of dialogue.

But most of the movies that came out of Shaw Brothers' Malay Film Productions were different. There was a mix of styles, weaving in drama, song and dance, absurd and sometimes surreal comedy.

There was also a racial mix in the production, with names like Lee Thiam Yiak, Wong Hong Peng and R Narayana featuring prominently in the credits.

Pajk Ajis' movies were not just entertaining. They remind me of the rich tapestry that make us whole as a society.

This article was published on May 7 in The New Paper.

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