Individually, they were awesome. But together, P. Ramlee and Saloma were an outstanding talented couple who helped form the Malaysian entertainment industry into what it is today.
There really is no other. The late Tan Sri P. Ramlee set the bar so high that every other Malaysian in the entertainment industry has made it their benchmark to do as well as he did, although none have quite reached that same height even 41 years after his passing.
Born in Penang, P. Ramlee composed a total of 401 songs and was involved in 66 films throughout his career. The films he wrote, directed and starred in remain entertaining till today.
We still laugh hard whenever we catch his comedies on television, regardless of whether we have seen them once or countless times.
Likewise, the songs P. Ramlee composed have not lost any of their shine over the decades.
Hence, it was truly tragic when it was reported in a History Channel documentary in 2010 that when he died from a heart attack at the age of 44, he thought that he and his works were no longer relevant.
For his fans, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
His place in the entertainment world started when he participated in a song competition organised by Penang Radio in 1947 and won first place.
In 1953, he acted in two films directed by B. Narayan Rao – Siapa Salah and Hujan Panas – before venturing into directing himself with Penarik Becha.
He would follow this up with many beloved classics, the last of which was Laksamana Do Re Mi.
Many of his films have been screened at film festivals abroad. Over the years too, P. Ramlee was the recipient of various awards at the Asian Film Festival, including Best Male Actor (Anakku Sazali, 1957), Best Comedy (Madu Tiga, 1964; Nujum Pak Belalang, 1960; Pendekar Bujang Lapok, 1959) and Best Musical Score (Hang Tuah, 1956) just to name a few.
Hang Tuah was also screened at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1957.
Puan Sri Saloma
With her svelte figure framed by a classic baju kebaya, cat’s eye make-up and alluring voice, Puan Sri Saloma epitomised the glorious heyday of the swinging 1960s.
She was such an icon that she has been referred to as the “Marilyn Monroe of Malaya”.
The singer-actress was memorable for performing Bila Larut Malam in Tan Sri P. Ramlee’s Labu Dan Labi.
Till today, it’s almost impossible to imagine anyone else singing that evergreen song.
She also performed Gelora, a romantic duet with P. Ramlee in the comedy Seniman Bujang Lapuk.
Saloma went on to marry P. Ramlee in 1961 and the duo became the local entertainment industry’s first power couple.
Her dedication to the entertainment industry was duly recognised in 1979 when she was awarded the Biduanita Negara title.
She also made history by becoming the first person to be conferred the country’s highest honour for female entertainers.
Throughout her career, she recorded over 500 songs and released her last LP Anak Rantau in 1983.
Sadly, she passed away that same year at the age of 48.
Though she is long gone, Saloma continues to be remembered through classic songs such as Selamat Hari Raya, Bossanova and Tiru Macam Saya.