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‘Showtime 1958’: The untold story about P. Ramlee is now on Netflix

The film offers a glimpse into the struggles and hardships undergone by legendary screen star, Tan Sri P. Ramlee and his fellow artistes, the elegance of 1950s era, as well as the moment of creation of the iconic song, Selamat Hari Raya.

By Raja Izz

Photo: Amai Kamarudin as P. Ramlee from 'Showtime 1958'

Many believe that the 1950s and 1960s were the ‘golden age' of male elegance, as well as Malaysian cinema (Frank Sinatra, Alain Delon, and most importantly our legendary P. Ramlee).

Speaking of which, Showtime 1958 is a musical drama that follows a variety show held by P. Ramlee in order to raise funds for the workers at Malay Film Productions in April 1958, leading up to the writing of the iconic song, Selamat Hari Raya, which was written by P. Ramlee and Jamil Sulong in April 1958 at the back of the Studio Jalan Ampas stage, as well as showing the critical moments of the fall of the Malay film empire in Singapore. The film also recounts the true story of how P. Ramlee and iconic singer Saloma met and fell in love.

Directed by Anwardi Jalil, Showtime 1958 takes audiences back to a time of not only rival film studios, underpaid talents, but also the fighting spirit and charm of the artists always striving to put on their best performance during show. The director has made sure to recapture the elegance of suits, kebayas, and dresses of the glamorous era. Even the cast working with the Director was eager to ensure the mannerisms, slang, and style of the people during that era were captured faithfully to the tiniest detail (smoking at the office and cinema among others).

For example, In order to play P. Ramlee the film’s star, actor Amai Kamaruddin had to undergo lots of research and a diet in order to embody the swag and spirit of P. Ramlee, who is regarded as one of the most elegant Malaysian actors ever.

This feature film directed by veteran director Anwardi Jamil has been recognized at the Asian Cinematography Award, which took place in Manila, where it won two awards, namely Best Asian Director (Anwardi Jamil) and Best Cinematography (Norazam Mohd Yusoff).

The film also successfully received an award for Best Music Score (Y.M. Raja Iskandar Raja Ibrahim) at the Singapore World Film Carnival awards, which also gave awards for Outstanding Achievement in the categories of Direction, Narrative Feature and Cinematography.

Showtime 1958 was also selected as one of the top three films in the Foreign Language Feature Films category at the Cardiff International Film Festival. In addition, Showtime's 1958 film was a finalist for one of the two best musical films at the Cannes World Film Festival, however it lost to the American film Black Live Matter - A Musical.

This Showtime 1958 film was also celebrated in Paris in conjunction with an event commemorating the work and music of the late P. Ramlee, which is called One Night With Malaysia. The event was organized by INALCO, the National Institute of Languages ​​and Oriental Civilisations, L'Ecole Des haute Etudes En Sciences Socials and Campus Condorcet.

Showtime 1958 is now available to stream on Netflix.

Showtime 1958 | Official Trailer | Netflix

The true story behind the iconic Selamat Hari Raya song (Eid Fitr song) written backstage at Jalan Ampas Studio in April 1958, by the legendary P. Ramlee and Jamil Sulong during a variety show which they had organised to collect funds for fellow performers and friends who had lost their jobs at the studio.

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