The women who shaped P. Ramlee
The women who shaped P. Ramlee
(From left) The show’s producer Boudeng, Tiara, Farid and Atilia.
P. Ramlee the Musical… The Life, The Love and the Inspiration focuses on the legendary artiste’s muse and wives, and their impact on his work. FARIDUL ANWAR FARINORDIN speaks to the creative forces behind this big production.
|Adlin says P. Ramlee will forever be loved.|
THE most difficult part in making P. Ramlee the Musical… The Life, The Love and the Inspiration was putting the story together.
Playwright Adlin Aman Ramlie, who co-directs the much-anticipated musical with Zahim Albakri (their second collaborative work together after the success of Puteri Gunung Ledang: The Musical), said turning a biographical story into a play, just like Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Evita, is challenging.
“Tan Sri P. Ramlee’s life journey is so expansive. When we decided to focus on his love life, we had no idea that the story would have to have several parts — first with his muse Azizah and later his wives Junaidah, Norizan and Tan Sri Saloma,” Adlin said, during rehearsals in Ampang, Selangor recently.
“Each part can easily stand on its own. Our approach is to tell them episodically, focusing on the principal character as he meets and falls in love at four periods in his life. The women in his life affected the way he saw things and signalled the direction and development of his craft.
“The musical starts in Penang where he meets his first love Azizah, then goes to Singapore where he starts his career and marries Junaidah. The marriage fails. At his peak, he falls in love and ties the knot with Norizan, but that doesn’t work too. He finally finds wedded bliss with Saloma.”
P. Ramlee The Musical … The Love, The Life and The Inspiration is Enfiniti Productions’ second musical after PGL: The Musical. It will be staged at Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur from Oct 18 to Nov 3. Datin Seri Tiara Jacquelina is the show’s executive producer.
It stars Sean Ghazi (P.Ramlee), Liza Hanim (Saloma), Atilia (Junaidah), Melissa Saila (Norizan), Datuk Siti Nurhaliza (Azizah) and Ched Yusoff (Sukardi, P. Ramlee’s friend).
Told through flashbacks in a linear storytelling format, Adlin said it takes the audience back to the Golden Age of Malay cinema.
“The show opens in 1973, shortly before P. Ramlee’s death, after he finished writing his last song Airmata di Kuala Lumpur. He questions if people would still remember him when he’s gone, not as P. Ramlee but as Remy — a friend, a husband and a human being.”
Love is the theme of the story. “P. Ramlee doubts if anybody would remember him when the story opens. As it progresses, we will see Azizah telling him that she will never forget him as her first love. Before his death, Saloma tells him the same thing.
“It is also Saloma who convinces him that he will never be forgotten because he is everybody’s first love. To me the musical is about showing our love to this great man.”
The audience will see that Azizah will continue to inspire him throughout his career — from his first directorial work (Penarik Beca) to his last film (Laksamana Do, Re, Mi).
“We believe that it was Azizah who helped spark the creative interest in P. Ramlee (his first composition was titled Azizah) with her beauty and their love,” Adlin said, adding that he spoke to a lot of people who knew P. Ramlee while researching the story.
“Siti (as Azizah) will appear in three continuous scenes and will not just sing a song. She has dialogue and the audience will get to know the character this important muse in P. Ramlee’s life.”
There are many versions about P. Ramlee’s love life, but Adlin is confident that the story unfolded in the musical will strike a chord with his fans.
“Even at this stage, I still get feedback from a lot of people — from the cast members to P. Ramlee’s fans. But I am sure of what I want to tell in this story. It’s not easy to please everybody, but I hope I have done justice to the story.”
As for P. Ramlee’s songs, they will be featured in the play to help describe P. Ramlee’s emotions or mark an era in his career, and not merely as show tunes.
“We are telling a story, not giving a tribute concert,” Adlin said. The show will comprise 12 new compositions by Dick Lee with recognisable soundscapes from P. Ramlee’s popular tunes, under the musical direction of Erwin Gutawa.
“For example, during P. Ramlee’s conflict with Norizan, you will hear the song he wrote at that time, Jeritan Batinku (it appeared in the movie Ibu Mertuaku, about a musician and his sinister mother-in-law).”
Choreographer Pat Ibrahim said the scene was one of the most challenging.
“It is called Perjalanan Bintang and it tells the story of P. Ramlee’s train journey from Butterworth to Singapore on Hari Raya to work as a playback singer, after he was discovered by film director B.S Rahjans. It is depicted in a big production number of the same title.”
For Pat, the defining scene with Sean (P. Ramlee), Ched (Sukardi) and the ensemble required him to deeply tap into his creative freedom.
“I am still looking for the motives and dynamics to define the ensemble’s movements. It’s difficult because the scene, which will be seven minutes long, involves sets which will only arrive later next month. On top of that, we’re working with piano-accompanied music and limited space.”
When asked if the characters will have stylised movements just like in PGL, he said: “It will be my homage to bangsawan (Malay traditional theatre). You can expect exaggerated movements. And they will apply to everybody.”
Pat said he is not going to revisit 1960s dance movements such as the twist and cha-cha.
“The dance will be contemporary, with some elements from that era. This is important because we’re telling the story for today’s audiences. For example, we will have a modernised joget.”
source : the new straits times