Old actors don't die.
They just exit the stage for the next act.
That could be said for veteran Malay actor Datuk Abdul Aziz Sattar, known affectionately to his fans as Pak Ajis.
He was the last survivor of a comedic trio whose antics on screen as worn-out bachelors won them fans across different races.
Pak Ajis became best known for the Bujang Lapok (Raggedy Bachelors) quartet of films - Bujang Lapok (1957), Pendekar Bujang Lapok (1959), Ali Baba Bujang Lapok (1960) and Seniman Bujang Lapok (1961) - which all featured him, P. Ramlee and S. Shamsudin.
Pak Ajis died yesterday morning at KPJ Kajang Hospital in Selangor, Malaysia, reported Malaysian daily New Straits Times. He was 89.
Born in 1925 in Indonesia, Pak Ajis was part of the golden age of movie-making here and had appeared in more than 30 Malay movies since the 1950s.
Much of the filming was done at Malay Film Productions, located at Jalan Ampas, off Balestier Road.
Veteran writer/producer and Cultural Medallion winner Yusnor Ef, who had known Pak Ajis since the 1950s, first met him at the Jalan Ampas studio.
Mr Yusnor, 77, who is also the president of Perkamus, the Association of Malay Singers, Composers and Professional Musicians, said: "He wasn't always a comedian and had taken on some dramatic roles when I first got to know him in the 1950s.
"But as a comedian, he would ad-lib and make up his lines on the spot.
"He was always funny in real life, too, but as a director, he took his work seriously.
"We didn't always see eye to eye when he was working as a director, but he was also passionate about film-making. That was something I had a lot of respect for."
After studio owners Shaw Brothers closed down Malay Film Productions in 1967, Pak Ajis moved to Kuala Lumpur, where he continued to direct and act in Malay films.
His death is a loss for Malay cinema, said Singaporean artist and independent film-maker Adi Yadoni, 45.
But he also thinks that Pak Ajis' films will continue to inspire the new generation of Malay artists.
He said: "The Bujang Lapok films, for example, will continue to find newer fans because of the comic timing and funny dialogue."
Film-maker Sanif Olek, 44, was also saddened by the news.
He said: "He was the last link to the Bujang Lapok series, which, to me, was the golden era of Malay movies... It is without a doubt that his early movies - the Bujang Lapok series, in particular - touched the Malay community then, and many can still relate to them now."
The New Straits Times reported that Pak Ajis was rushed to the hospital on Sunday after suffering a heart attack.
He had complained of chest pains and collapsed in the home of one of his children.
He was treated at the hospital's coronary care unit and his condition had reportedly stabilised.
Pak Ajis' remains were taken to his residence in Bandar Tun Hussein Onn, Cheras in Kuala Lumpur, before burial at the Cheras Perdana Muslim cemetery yesterday afternoon, reported Malaysian daily The Star yesterday.
This article was published on May 7 in The New Paper.
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