It was a very early morning on a Saturday in February. I arrived at the set late, after printing the storyboard for the commercial shoot for Astro we are going to do and getting the walkie-talkies from the office on set at Hulu Langat. The location for production lies hidden on the hillside, at a famous farm which the owner thankfully allowed us to do our work. Carrying the materials, I rushed to the village house in the farm, where the crew had already began their work amidst the noisy discussions by the surrounding sheep and lambs, as well as the chickens and other farm animals there.
We are fortunate that rain was not present that day to disrupt the shoot; however the weather compensated by an overflow of sunshine and intense heat, and everyone involved in the production tried to take cover under the leaves of the trees for as long as possible before shoot. At a wooden bench beside the lake, sat two legendary figures that perhaps some of our youngsters would know.
Ruminah Sidek and Hamid Gurka are two actors with a very long history between them, in a career that span almost half a century. During the glory days of Malaysian entertainment in the mid 1970s, Hamid Gurka (also known as Pak Hamid) along with Jamali Shadat were the premier comedians in our country, with the former landing many lead and supporting roles, until today, in films such as Panglima Badul, Aku Yang Berhormat, Gila-Gila, Main-Main Hantu, and more recently Salah Bapak and Alamak Toyol.
Ruminah Sidek, more affectionally known as Mak Mah, is arguably one of the queens of Malaysian cinema since the 60s, alongside Sarimah, and sisters Saloma and Mariani. Her career ran throughout the transitional period of Malaysian cinema, from acting in roles beside Tan Sri P Ramlee, and still going strong into today’s industry in recent films like Puteri Gunung Ledang, and Jangan Pandang Belakang, in which she won Best Supporting Actresses in the 24th Malaysian Film Festival, 2008, among countless awards she had achieved across a glorious career..
Perhaps the first thing that caught my attention to them was their attitude. They move about, chit chatting, still with plenty of energy masking their golden years, and awaiting instructions from our director. Pak Hamid can be seen most of the time just relaxing at the bench near the main set, awaiting the next scene to be shot, puffing away his Gudang Garam while chit-chatting with everyone. While many of the talents just move about and some just go missing in action when our director needed them, he was always around the set, and one of the first to get prepared, even though his is a minor role.
Mak Mah, as the main subject of the shoot, came to us and asked us for comments on the wardrobe, and wanting to ensure her make-up is well. During the take, she does not even mind retaking her scenes again, and again, and again, until she got it right, and never once looked like she was going to throw a fit. She was always alert to the requests of our director, and ready to portray her role. All this, while the other talents were looking annoyed with the repeated shots that needed to be taken.
What strikes me the most was something I cannot imagine; by afternoon, many of the talents, mostly young adults, were already complaining about the heat, asking when was lunch and generally said they were tired. Mak Mah and Pak Hamid not even once said anything about the scorching weather, and just progress on with the shoot, waiting for their turn, hardly tasted the lunch we provided, and did not utter a single word about tiredness. By evening, the talents were wondering when they can go back. At this time, Mak Mah’s had completed her part, but surprisingly stayed back in case we needed her. Some of the talents were already gone and the director had to do the shots without them. Yet Pak Hamid was still at the bench by the lake, waiting calmly for production completion.
Both Mak Mah and Pak Hamid, screen legends and with much seniority, were with us until nightfall with a handful of talents we had until we finished the job. At the end of the day I was jaded, but feel embarrassed to even express tiredness with the two dedicated professionals around. Their commitment to their work really puts most of the youngsters to shame. Perhaps that is why the popularity of today’s youth causes so much problems for themselves, and having the lack of tenacity at work made a lot of them to lose their place in the industry. On the contrary, other than family related matters, Mak Mah and Pak Hamid’s lives and careers have showered upon them respect. The value of discipline, with professionalism, is what drives them to their glorious lives, even today.
I really admire Mak Mah and Pak Hamid, and when you consider values are not something people hinge their personality on these days, there is a need for people to be reminded that the only thing you can carry to your grave, is your soul. I am glad to have met these two good souls in the course of my work. It is certainly something lost in youth today that they should learn, as it will benefit them in the long run. I personally hope to emulate their principles as a priceless addition to my value system.