Here Are 14 Iconic P. Ramlee Movies That Celebrate The Legendary Actor-Filmmaker

In what would have been his 94th birthday, we remember one of the most talented Malaysians to ever grace our presence.

Cover image via Wikipedia & The Leaders Online

Let's commemorate the quadruple threat that brought variety and complexity to Malaysian art

Teuku Zakaria bin Teuku Nyak Puteh, or more affectionately known to Malaysians everywhere as P. Ramlee, is arguably one of the most influential people to create a lifelong mark on Malaysian music, literature, and film.

Between the 1940s and 1960s, the icon has indexed over 60 movies and 400 songs under his belt. As one of the most notable faces to pop up across the screens in Malaysian cinema, this quadruple threat dipped his toes into the roles of actor, filmmaker, composer, and musician throughout his career. 

Today, 22 March, in what would have been his 94th birthday, we celebrate some of his best work of all time, and relive the prestige we have come to associate with P. Ramlee. 

1. Hang Tuah

Image via Mubi

Playing the titular role, Hang Tuah depicts the tale of Admiral Hang Tuah, and his four brothers - Hang Jebat, Hang Lekiu, Hang Lekir and Hang Kasturi - in their adventures as teenagers to adults. 

As one of his most reputable films to date, Hang Tuah garnered immense success, winning Best Musical Score at the Asian-Pacific Film Festival in 1956, and was nominated for the Golden Bear Award (equivalent to Best Film) at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1957.

2. Ibu Mertuaku

Image via BuzzKini

In Ibu Mertuaku, a struggling musician falls in love with a wealthy young woman. As they grapple to maintain their love affair, tragedy strikes along the way to remind the audience that the couple will see numerous challenges in the face of those who do not approve of such love.

Winning the Most Versatile Talent Special Award at the Asia Pacific Film Festival, P. Ramlee's performance in Ibu Mertuaku is one for the books.

3. Tiga Abdul

Image via Siakap Keli

This hilarious comedy tells the story of three brothers who were cheated out of their wealth by three women, under the orders of their father. Set in the fabricated land of Isketambola, this knee-slapping comedy will have you wincing and bursting out into laughter at every moment. 

As his last movie in Singapore before moving to Malaysia, this classic contains some of P. Ramlee's most notable songs to date, including Bunyi Guitar and Allah Selamatkan Kamu.

4. Penarek Becha

Image via KinoLounge

In his directorial debut, P. Ramlee sets his sights on another love story classic between two people of different social classes; a trishaw puller and a debutant. 

When families and organic situations threaten to tear them apart, the two lovers will stop at nothing to be with one another. 

In what would continue his string of directorial success, this movie kicks off one of P. Ramlee's many talents behind the camera.

5. Madu Tiga

Image via Mubi

In a series of hilarious unfortunate events, Madu Tiga sees P. Ramlee embark on a polygamous relationship once he discovers that his first wife is infertile.

After marrying a second wife, he takes a third soon after. It's not long until the three wives band together and conspire against him.

With The Straits Times naming Madu Tiga as one of the top five Malay movies made in Singapore, it is no surprise that the film took home Best Comedy at the 1964 Asian Film Festival. 

6. Antara Dua Darjat

Image via KinoLounge

Antara Dua Darjat is a love story not so familiar to the territory we know P. Ramlee to be amazing at. In a series of violent attacks, a young couple is torn apart mercilessly, and are forbidden to be in love with one another. It is not until a subsequent tragedy through the film that the couple reunite once more, in a rather odd manner.

Directing and starring in this classic, this film sees more of P. Ramlee's notable musical works, including Getaran Jiwa and Selamat Panjang Umur.

7. Labu Dan Labi

Image via KinoLounge

Posing as half of the duo in the titular role, Labu dan Labi sees two servants of a decrepit old man get hounded and insulted on a day-to-day basis for their incompetence and idiocy. Bearing the ill treatment, both servants whisk themselves away into stories that bring them satisfaction and happiness. 

With over-the-top comedic features and occasional gestures towards the audience by looking directly into the camera, this pantomime production written and directed by P. Ramlee has stood the test of time in the eyes of devoted fans.

8. The Do Re Mi Trilogy

Following the adventures of three comical men, the entire Do Re Mi series was composed and produced by P. Ramlee himself. Taking centre stage of the three men in Do Re Mi (1996), the success of the first movie garnered the production of two sequels, Nasib Do Re Mi (also in 1966) and Laksamana Do Re Mi (1972)

With the third movie of the trilogy being P. Ramlee's final appearance on the big screen before his death, Malaysians everywhere know this movie series to be one full of laughter and joy.

9. The entire Bujang Lapok series

Image via Mubi

Out of all of his creations, the Bujang Lapok movie series was one that cemented P. Ramlee as an immortal icon in cinema.

Beginning with Bujang Lapok (1957), and then moving to Pendeker Bujang Lapok (1959), Ali Baba Bujang Lapok (1960), and lastly Seniman Bujang Lapok (1961), this movie series follows the lives of three overaged bachelors on their quest to find love, wealth, and respect.

Forever known as the character of Ramli, it is undeniable that P. Ramlee's notoriety from actor to legend, occurred during this film series.

Happy Birthday P. Ramlee! You will always be an icon.

Meet the nine-year-old whose drawings of P. Ramlee's movies went viral:

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