Friday, May 4, 2012

FIXI #11: Sitora Harimau Jadian

This is so effin' cool.

I don't have the gall to call myself a true P. Ramlee fan, because it wasn't until a couple of years back when I gained a whole new appreciation for his works, and his life in general. It was something that happened during drama class. It occurred to me that P. Ramlee is such a big name, yet so much about him is unknown to me. Why is it that I know more about the career and the life of Akira Kurosawa, but all I know about P. Ramlee can only be summed up to "he made awesome movies and died"?

Yes, I too saw that allegedly "definitive" P. Ramlee documentary by Shuhaimi Baba. As insightful as it was, I still had the impression that they withheld information. Instead they opted for the all-of-a-sudden-they-turned-against-him, tak-tau-la-kenapa route. Simply put, we never got to know P. Ramlee as a person, his flaws and bad decisions. "He's dead, why bring it up?" they might say. It's not about that! You can't fall in love with the idea of a person. It doesn't work that way.

It's like this. I remember seeing Doktor Rushdi [1970] back when I was in secondary school, and I couldn't appreciate it. Not because it was a terrible movie, it was just me caught off-guard by the idea of P. Ramlee as a serious film-maker. Back then I wasn't curious enough to figure out why, but during the aforementioned drama class, it finally hit me; Most of us only know P. Ramlee as the funnyman, best known for trading insults with Ahmad Nisfu.

But I digress. It's entirely possible that I'm having Selective Amnesia, and have this inner desire to start over. Hence why I was excited when I got my hands on a copy of this Sitora Harimau Jadian, one of the three latest releases from Buku Fixi. A novel based on the only film (out of thirty-four) directed by P. Ramlee that's gone for good. So I consider it a rare feat indeed that such a novel finally gets to see the light of day.

I'm a little thankful that the movie didn't survive...
Based on what I've read before I sat down to write this entry, Sitora was the only (strictly speaking) horror film ever made by P. Ramlee. I immediately warmed up to it because I was reminded of that phase I mentioned some time ago, when I watched Hammer Films' classic horror flicks on Cinemax back-to-back. But you'd be shortchanging Sitora if you were to regard it as nothing more than a creature feature.

Don't forget that it came from the mind of P. Ramlee. So if you think his comedies were chock full of social commentaries, expect nothing less from Sitora. However, I get the feeling that you'd be able to read between the lines even easier, since there will be no audiovisual to distract you. The language is easy enough to understand, and if the dialogue sound a little theatrical, you'd only need to remind yourself that that's how they talk back in the old days.

And if you're expecting "derr derr", "aper cer?" or "apa celup?!", you're an idiot and I hate you.

I suppose I could go in depth about the theme, but that would deprive you the fun of reading into it yourself. So get a copy! It's more than worth its 20 bucks price tag. Rest in peace, P. Ramlee and I hope there will be a renewed interest in his life and films as a whole.

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