Friday 30 July 2010

Back from the printer

At 11:15 am today, the books were delivered by the printer. This is good news because the launch in Singapore is 4pm tomorrow!

It looks and feels pretty good. I really like publishing hardcovers and plan to do more!

Tuesday 27 July 2010

Sandwiched between fardu ain and kaum pupus

MPH Bestsellers for the Week Ending 25 July

Local Authors

1. Perubatan Islam Menangkis Kejahatan Makhluk Halus by Sharhan Shafie, Fakhrul Ridzha Abd Rahman
2. Life is an Open Secret : Ramadan Special – 25 Inspirational Stories from Ordinary Life Experiences by Zabrina A. Bakar
3. The Quran and I by Anas Zubedy
4. Engkau Memang Cantik: Kerana Kamu Tidak Pernah Tahu Betapa Cantiknya Dirimu by Burhan Sodiq
5. Indahnya Hidup Bersyariat (Panduan Fardu Ain Lengkap Bergambar) by Dato’ Ismail Kamus & Mohd Azrul Azlen
6. Rojak : Bite-Sized Stories by Amir Muhammad
7. Kaum-Kaum Yang Pupus by Harun Yahya
8. Pemilik Cintaku Setelah Allah dan Rasul by Fatimah Syarha Mohd Noordin
9. Mama Saya Lapar by Wardina Safiyyah
10. Diari Sufi by Siti Munazakiah

Wednesday 21 July 2010

Sandwiched between makhluk halus and Dr. Mahathir

1. Perubatan Islam Menangkis Kejahatan Makhluk Halus by Sharhan Shafie, Fakhrul Ridzha Abd Rahman
2. Rojak : Bite-Sized Stories by Amir Muhammad
3. Through My Lenses by Mahathir Mohamad
4. Indahnya Hidup Bersyariat (Panduan Fardu Ain Lengkap Bergambar) by Dato’ Ismail Kamus & Mohd Azrul Azlen
5. Palestin tak Pernah Gentar! Fatwa Kontemporari dan Penyelesaiannya (Memburu Menang atau Syahid) by Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri; Fatimah Syarha Mohd Noordin
6. Mama Saya Lapar by Wardina Safiyyah
7. Kaum-Kaum Yang Pupus by Harun Yahya
8. Pemilik Cintaku Setelah Allah dan Rasul by Fatimah Syarha Mohd Noordin
9. The Secrets of a Young Millionaire: How to Build a Successful Multi-Million Dollar Business from Nothing, Even During an Economic Downturn by Ray Ling
10. Bila Allah Menduga Kita by Syed Alwi Al-Atas

Tuesday 20 July 2010

Benjamin McKay (1964-2010) on Malaysia-Australia ties

When Benjamin McKay wrote this for the June 2010 Off the Edge, he had no way of knowing it would be the magazine's final issue. And when people read his warmly anecdotal piece on how ordinary people can (and often do) triumph over the petty dictates of grandstanding political divisiveness, they also had no way of knowing he would be gone forever just a month later.

I knew Benjamin for over 5 years. He had a tremendous enthusiasm for life and things that made life worth living; chief among those things would be an independence of spirit (as represented, to him, by the spirit of independent cinema). He had many plans to write beyond academia; although these projects will never be realised, I think Malaysians are all the richer for having had this quirky mat salleh in our midst for a few years. His many students and friends will attest that he was a man of self-deprecating humour, of principle, of true generosity. This article shows how much he wanted to share, and for us to continue sharing: 

On a personal note, the topic of his thesis - Malay cinema of the 1950s and 1960s - was one of the key inspirations for me to embark on 120 Malay Movies. I never got a chance to read his thesis (it took forever to go through the process of academic approval before he could get his PhD) but I hope to do so. Perhaps his review of Mukhsin here is a hint as to its tone and content. Do any Malaysian reviewers ever mention Siti Tanjung Perak in any context? But he could, and his ability to draw parallels (across cultures, across time) is proof of not only his intellectual agility but of his instinct for honing in on what mattered.

Rest in peace.

Friday 16 July 2010

Launches and postal orders for 120 MALAY MOVIES

After two years, it's finally here!

120 Malay Movies will be launched at the Singapore Art Museum on Saturday 31 July at 4pm. I will give an hour-long talk which includes a short DVD presentation. You may confirm on Facebook here.

Why launch in Singapore? Well, because most of the films in the book were made there, of course!

There will also be a KL launch on Friday 6 August, 8pm at The Annexe Gallery, Central Market KL. This is the venue that has hosted most of my launches and I feel right at home! I've got your Facebook page riiiight here.

If you live in Malaysia and would like a copy, you may order straight from me. Email me at The books will be posted right after the Singapore launch.

For those outside Malaysia and Singapore, the book can be pre-ordered now on

The first edition (hardcover, 500 copies, 432 pages) won't be sold in the big bookshops. If and when it sells out, then a decision will be duly made on a wider release ;-)

If you need a synopsis, well, this is what Page 1 of the book looks like:

Thursday 15 July 2010

The cover

No, your eyes do not deceive you; the only words are on the spine ;-)

This is just the front:

I'd love to see how bookshops react to this. But I won't find out so soon. as I won't be giving the first edition (500 copies, hardcover, 432 pages) to the main bookshops. It will be sold directly and at events, and at only three independent establishments that need your lurve!

Details on the launch(es) will be posted very soon.

* Design by Liza Manshoor.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

Box office figures for Malaysian films, first half of 2010

1. ADNAN SEMPIT - RM7.66 million
2. KL DRIFT 2 - RM5.67 million
4. TIGER WOOHOO RM3.9 million
5. V3: SAMSENG JALANAN RM3.88 million
6. NIYANG RAPIK RM3.72 million
7. ICE KACANG PUPPY LOVE (co-production) RM3.6 million 
10. KECOH BETUL RM2.03 million
12. 2 HATI 1 JIWA RM400,000
13. BELUKAR RM300,000
14. HOOPERZ RM290,000
15. KAPOWWW! RM270,000
16. THE KILLER CLOWN - Less than RM100,000

Source: FINAS

Tuesday 6 July 2010

The full list of the 120 MALAY MOVIES

These 120 represent about a third of all the Malay-language films made in Singapore and then Kuala Lumpur from 1948 (the date of the oldest surviving Malay movie) to 1972 (the year I was born, for isn't an 'old movie' something made before one's birth?)

I couldn't possibly watch all the films made then for the simple reason that a few dozen are lost. Among the surviving ones, some are in such bad condition that the actors sound like they are speaking in tongues. Besides, my aim was never to be comprehensive or exhaustive but to follow ... a train of thought. 

It's not meant to be a Best Of as not all these films are, by objective standards, the greatest. There are also quite a few prominent titles not on the list. So how did I choose the 120? Simply by picking what I, as a viewer, felt like watching (or re-watching). I watched in chronological order; so if, for example, I'd already seen two movies with the same lead couple, I would sometimes want to skip the third. It was a matter of instinct, but sometimes I'd follow a certain genre (such as the pontianak one) or director because they interested me.

I also chose to have as complete a list as I could of the three most interesting directors whose careers ended by 1972: K.M. Basker, P. Ramlee and Hussain Haniff. 

As for the question of why 120 instead of 100 or 150 or even 200, the answer is quite naughty. And it will be explained in the rather long Introduction in the book :-)

So! How many of these have you seen, and which did you like?
  1. CINTA (Directed by BS Rajhans, released on 31 October 1948)
  2. NASIB (BS Rajhans, 25 July 1949)
  3. NILAM (BS Rajhans, 28 Sep 1949)
  4. RACUN DUNIA (BS Rajhans, 16 February 1950)
  5. ALOHA (BS Rajhans, 1950)
  6. PEMBALASAN (L Krishnan, 1950)
  7. DEWI MURNI (BS Rajhans, 1950)
  8. PERKAHWINAN RAHSIA (AR Tompel, 1951)
  9. ANTARA SENYUM DAN TANGIS (L. Krishnan, 27 February 1952)
  10. PERMATA DI PERLIMBAHAN (Haji Mahadi, 1952)
  11. PATAH HATI (KM Basker, 2 August 1952)
  12. MISKIN (KM Basker, 1 December 1952)
  13. TAS TANGAN WANITA (L. Krishnan, 1952)
  14. YATIM PIATU (BS Rajhans, 1952)
  15. HATI IBLIS (KM Basker, 1953)
  16. PUTUS HARAPAN (BN Rao, 2 March 1953)
  17. HUJAN PANAS (BN Rao, 15 August 1953)
  18. IMAN (KRS Sastry, 1954)
  19. PANGGILAN PULAU (S. Ramanathan, 4 July 1954)
  20. MENYERAH (KM Basker, 1955)
  21. PENARIK BECA (P. Ramlee, 30 October 1955)
  22. RIBUT (KM Basker, 1955)
  23. HANG TUAH (Phani Majumdar, 28 Januari 1956)
  24. SEMERAH PADI (P. Ramlee, 14 July 1956)
  25. ANAKKU SAZALI (Phani Majumdar, 27 October 1956)
  26. PENCURI (KM Basker, 1956)
  27. HANTU JERANGKUNG (K.M. Basker, 1957)
  28. MOGOK (KM Basker, 1957)
  29. PANCA DELIMA (P Ramlee, 7 July 1957)
  30. BUJANG LAPUK (P Ramlee, 30 November 1957)
  31. SUMPAH PONTIANAK (BN Rao, 1958)
  32. ANAK PONTIANAK (Ramon A. Estella, 1958)
  33. SERANGAN ORANG MINYAK (L Krishnan, 1958)
  34. SUMPAH ORANG MINYAK (P. Ramlee, 20 Apr 1958)
  35. KAKI KUDA (Kadir Sharma, 1958)
  36. MATAHARI (Ramon A. Estella, 1958)
  37. SERGEANT HASSAN (Lamberto Avellana, 26 Aug 1958)
  38. KORBAN FITNAH (PL Kapur, 1959)
  39. MAHSURI (BN Rao, 1959)
  40. RADEN MAS (L Krishnan, 1959)
  41. PENDEKAR BUKANG LAPOK (P. Ramlee, 1959)
  42. MUSANG BERJANGGUT (P. Ramlee, 1 August 1959)
  43. NUJUM PAK BELALANG (P. Ramlee, 26 December 1959)
  44. ANTARA DUA DARJAT (P. Ramlee, 1958)
  45. HANRU RIMAU (L. Krishnan/B.N. Rao/S. Roomai Noor, 1960)
  46. ISI NERAKA (Jamil Sulong, 1960)
  47. NOOR ISLAM (KM Basker, 1960)
  48. SUMPAH WANITA (Omar Rojik, 1960)
  49. ALI BABA BUJANG LAPOK (P Ramlee, 31 Jan 1961)
  51. HANG JEBAT (Hussain Haniff, 1961)
  52. SRI MERSING (Salleh Ghani, 1961)
  53. JALAK LENTENG (Salleh Ghani, 1961)
  54. PANJI SEMERANG (Omar Rojik, 1961)
  55. SENIMAN BUJANG LAPOK (P Ramlee, 6 Jul 1961)
  56. SUMPITAN RACUN (S. Roomai Noor, 1961)
  57. BADANG (S Roomai Noor, 1962)
  58. DANG ANOM (Hussain Haniff, 1962)
  59. IBU MERTUAKU (P. Ramlee, 7 March 1962)
  60. MATA SYAITAN (Hussain Haniff, 1962)
  61. KORBAN KASIH (Hussain Haniff, 1962)
  62. LABU & LABI (P. Ramlee, 29 August 1962)
  63. LAILA MAJNUN (BN Rao, 1962)
  64. LANCANG KUNING (M. Amin, 1962)
  65. MABUK KEPAYANG (Hussain Haniff, 1962)
  66. BAYANGAN DI WAKTU FAJAR (Usmar Ismail, 1963)
  67. CUCU DATUK MERAH (M. Amin, 1963)
  68. RAJA BERSIONG (Ramon Estella, 1963)
  69. NASIB SI LABU LABI (P. Ramlee, 26 Apr 1963)
  70. IBU AYAM (Salleh Ghani, 1963)
  71. KASIH TANPA SAYANG (Omar Rojik, 1963)
  72. MASUK ANGIN KELUAR ASAP (Hussain Haniff, 1963)
  73. GILA TALAK (Hussain Haniff, 1963)
  74. TAJUL ASHIKIN (M. Amin, 1961)
  75. RUMAH ITU DUNIA AKU (M. Amin, 1963)
  76. AIR MATA DUYUNG (M. Amin, 1964)
  77. DUA PENDEKAR (Hussain Haniff, 1964)
  78. MADU TIGA (P. Ramlee, 12 Feb 1964)
  79. KALUNG KENANGAN (Hussain Haniff, 1964)
  80. 3 ABDUL (P. Ramlee, 22 Apr 1964)
  81. PANGLIMA BESI (M. Amin, 1964)
  83. MAT 3/4 (Mat Sentul, 1964)
  84. CINTA KASIH SAYANG (Hussain Haniff, 1965)
  85. MUDA MUDI (M. Amin, 1965)
  86. IKAN EMAS (M. Amin, 1965)
  87. JIRAN SEKAMPUNG (Hussain Haniff, 1965)
  88. RAGAM P. RAMLEE (P. Ramlee, 1965)
  89. PUSAKA PONTIANAK (Ramon A. Estella, 1965)
  90. SAYANG SI BUTA (Omar Rojik, 1965)
  91. MASAM-MASAM MANIS (P. Ramlee, 21 August 1965)
  92. SABARUDDIN TUKANG KASUT (P. Ramlee, 1966)
  93. ANAK BULUH BETONG (S Kadarisman, 1966)
  94. DUA KALI LIMA (M. Amin, 1966)
  95. DO RE MI (P Ramlee, 1966)
  96. GERAK KILAT [JEFRI ZAIN - GERAK KILAT) (Jamil Sulong, 1966)
  97. NASIB DO RE MI (P. Ramlee, 1966)
  98. NAGA TASIK CINI (Nordin Ahmad, 1966)
  99. DAHAGA (Omar Rojik 1966)
  100. UDANG DI SEBALIK BATU (Hussain Haniff, 1966)
  101. NORA ZAIN - AGEN WANITA 001 (Low Wai, 1967)
  102. DOSA WANITA (M. Amin, 1967)
  103. SESUDAH SUBUH (P. Ramlee, 1967)
  104. KELUARGA 69 (P. Ramlee, 1967)
  105. MAT BOND (Mat Sentul & M. Amin, 1967)
  106. ANAK BAPAK (P. Ramlee, 1968)
  107. GERIMIS (P. Ramlee, 1968)
  108. RAJA BERSIONG (Jamil Sulong, 1968)
  109. AHMAD ALBAB (P. Ramlee, 1968)
  110. KANCAN TIRANA (P. Ramlee, 1969)
  111. BUKAN SALAH IBU MENGANDUNG (Jins Shamsuddin, 1969)
  112. 6 JAHANAM (P. Ramlee, 1969)
  113. SIAL WANITA (M. Amin, 1969)
  114. DR RUSHDI (P Ramlee, 1970)
  115. GELORA (P Ramlee, 1970)
  116. AKU MAHU HIDUP (M. Amin, 1970)
  117. PUAKA (M. Amin, 1970)
  118. PUTUS SUDAH KASIH SAYANG (P. Ramlee, 1971)
  119. JANGAN TINGGAL DAKU (P. Ramlee, 1971)
  120. LAKSAMANA DO RE MI (P. Ramlee, 1972)

Monday 5 July 2010

ROJAK debuts at #1 in MPH!

MPH Local Authors Bestsellers

For the week ending 4 July

1. Rojak: Bite-Sized Stories by Amir Muhammad
2. Indahnya Hidup Bersyariat (Panduan Fardu Ain Lengkap Bergambar) by Dato' Ismail Kamus & Mohd Azrul Azlen
3. Kaum-Kaum yang Pupus by Harun Yahya
4. Mama Saya Lapar by Wardina Saffiyah

5. Jadi 'Cool + Positif: Psikologi Suka-Suka (Kompilasi Ruangan Psikologi Majalah Remaja) edited by Wan Erni Liza Mat Izatzi
6. Bila Allah Menduga Kita by Syed Alwi Al-Atas
7. Diari Sufi by Siti Munazakiah
8. Jika Anda Ingin Berjaya, Bersolatlah: Solat Penghubung Kecemerlangan Dunia dan Kebahagian Akhirat by Muhammad Rusli Amin
9. 40 Questions You Should Ask Your Lawyer Before Buying a Residential Property in Malaysia by Khairul Anuar Shaharudin
10. You Can Become Rich in Property (Revised Edition) by Peter Yee


This is the first time I've had a #1 bestseller to my name since Malaysian Politicians Say the Darndest Things (Vol 1) way back in November 2007. That, too, had not many words, but many funny drawings. 

In the meantime, I also had a #1 as publisher when Farish A. Noor's What Your Teacher Didn't Tell You (2009) was on top for a few weeks. That had many words and no funny drawings.

So there's a lesson here. Or not.  

Either way, thanks for the support yo!

Friday 2 July 2010

Salute to the title designer(s) of the Cathay-Keris studio

Three major studios are represented in my book: Shaw Brothers (Malay Film Production) and Cathay-Keris Films in Singapore, and Merdeka Studio in Kuala Lumpur. Out of the three, Cathay-Keris consistently has the coolest title designs in its opening credits.

Most of the time, it would consist of a graphic element that relates to the title itself, such as:

Sometimes, things got more ambitious. This one, for example, is part of an animated clip in which the eye drops a tear, which them transforms into:

And this is one of my favourites; it starts off as just the title and a house, and then pulls back to have it repeated, until there are dozens in a grid. This is at about the half-way point:

Who was the unknown genius who came up with this concept? There is never a separate credit for Title Designer, so it's most likely an editor. These films don't always have the same editor, so someone must have started it. Then it became a convention that the studio felt the need to uphold; this is what people call branding, I suppose. Whoever it was, I salute thee!

UPDATE (8 July): The answer is Mat Sentul!