In fact I dare say I love P-Ramlee more most of you. I loved P-Ramlee so much that he was my Form 3 Sejarah Project. If you play some random song of his I there's a very-very good chance I can say what song is it and even sing it. When kids at school were singing KRU AWAS or IBU by Exist I sang Dengar ini Cerita.
Once Jonathan Kent of BBC (Malaysian Correspondent) wrote that he loves P-Ramlee as well and how Malays back then were more relaxed and less of an Ultra than today. He reminiscence at how back in those days Malays are quite open to the notion of party, joking and even make jokes about gin. Yes back then Malays or some might say "urban" Malays were more relaxed and are much more open compare to some rigid branding of Islam plastered to them like now. Jonathan Kent also once reminiscence in some other article on how he missed the quiet calm peaceful nature of the Malay fishermen compare to the suit clad marble floor government officer at Putrajaya.
It's normal I guess, we all do love P-Ramlee and that peaceful fishermen. And yeah I guess it would be nice if Malays nowdays were more like P-Ramlee, less "ultra", less rigid or islamic fundamentalist and chill out and take a joke.
But the thing as much as I love P-Ramlee,
There are several facts about P-Ramlee which can never will leave my head just as how his songs keep sticking in here.
P-Ramlee did not receive a single cent for his albums or songs in the form of royalty. P-Ramlee though a director, script writer, actor and even composed the music theme he never really owned his movies. P-Ramlee was poor before he died, Dirt poor, he died in debt. The house in Setapak which is now his museum originally was not even his own house, they had to buy the house. P-Ramlee write and sing songs but they are not his, his movies are not his, his studio is not his in fact nothing is his.
P-Ramlee is just a flamboyant talented Malay who like to party around and drink. Of course people around him loved him, he made them rich, he let them use him and when he is old and no longer popular they dumped him. Of course early on he led a prosperous glamorous life, but it is all artificial. He didn't own anything Shaw Brothers owned him.
Go to Singapore, Jalan Ampas, Visit that famous Studio Jalan Ampas and see for yourself what is left. Apart from a puny stone has words less than a paragraph you won't find it in any tourist attraction map.
Yes P-Ramlee was fun, talented and loved(only on certain times).
P-Ramlee is indeed the mascot of how the Malays were back then. Seriously, every time I go back to Perak and hear stories about my grandfathers and great grandfathers I couldn't help thinking "ahh so... more P-Ramlee's"
They lived a good life, people loved them, they party around at cabaret and socialise like Frank Sinatra. But the sold off their land, their businesses and their heritage.
They become slaves on their own land.
So No Thank you.
I do not wish the P-Ramlee kind of Malay.
Even though you might love me for that.
p/s - Some foreigner journalist may be romanticising about the peaceful malay fishermen living a simple life. But seriously, ask those fishermen whether they do it because they love it or they would rather have something better. It's always fun and romantic to write about peaceful fishermen, but try being one. Maybe after that you would wish you work in an air conditioned office with marble floors and wearing a suit.