Monday, January 25, 2010

Is Hujan Panas the Greatest Movie Ever Made?

Probably not, but I sure want to see it and find out for myself! It's been a rainy day here and so I have been bored. So I went wandering on the Internet - looking for music by Helen Li Mei on CD with no success - and that accidentally led me to three Youtube videos of this Shaw Brothers Malaysian film from 1953. As most of you probably know, the Shaw Brothers had a film operation going in Singapore/Malaysia before they did in Hong Kong. They owned a large chain of theaters and produced films for the local Malays and imported Chinese films for the Chinese population. This whole world of Shaw films is extremely unknown to most of us, but apparently some of them must be playing on Malaysian television or put out on VCD there because there are various clips on YouTube of some of them.

Initially, most of the directors were of Indian descent. One of the most important ones was B.N. Rao who began working for the Shaws in 1953 (the film company was called Malay Film Productions) and made Hujan Panas in that same year. Rao was also the first director to make a horror Pontianak film. What also makes this film interesting is the song writer, choreographer and performer, P. Ramlee. Ramlee wrote hundreds of songs for the screen but he also became the first successful Malay director, beginning in 1955 until his early death in 1973 at the age of 44.

Here are three musical videos I found of the film - the first is a wonderful attempt at a girl's high school Busby Berkely stage number, then a lovely nightclub performance from one of Malaysia's legendary singers Siput Sarawak and then finally Ramlee himself doing a funny little song that I can't get out of my head.

All this info is from the excellent book, Singapore Cinema by Raphael Millet.

Ah, so many movies to see! Now on with the show.


Brian said...

Thanks! I always love being caught in one of those kind of rains. I wonder if we have a term for it in English?

eliza bennet said...

S.Korean's believe that rain during sunshine is a sign of a wedding between a fox and a human (I remember hearing this in one of the S.Korean films/ dramas).

Brian thank you for the entertaining and informative updates

YTSL said...

Hi Brian --

Isn't it obvious that "Peking Opera Blues" is the greatest movie ever made? ;b

Re P. Ramlee: He's a Penangite, don't you know... Next time we're both in Penang, I'll take you to his house which now has become a museum... :D

Brian said...

I should have guessed - everything good in Malaysia comes from Penang!

Eliza - thanks - I just have nothing else to do right now! I like that cultural juxtaposition - sun and rain, fox and human - sort of makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Looks pretty great to me! I love those clips of Siput Sarawak and P. Ramlee.

A whole bunch of the Malay films by Shaw Brothers and Cathay have been released on VCD, but they are nearly impossible to find outside of Malaysia or Singapore.

Maybe you should make a shopping spree down to Penang the next time you are in Bangkok. :)

Brian said...

Much easier for YTSL to do so on a trip home! I am not as good or as patient as you are in watching un-subbed films these days. Used to do it a lot but with so many options with subs these days its hard to choose an unsubbed film to watch. So YTSL buys them and sends them to you to watch and to Blog about! Makes sense to me!

Anonymous said...

I'm planning a trip to Malaysia this summer. So if I find a copy of Hujan Panas, I'll let you know if it is indeed the greatest movie ever made. ;)

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