Films as Social History - P. Ramlee's "Seniman Bujang Lapok" and Malays in Singapore (1950s-60s)

Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljunied


This paper provides a critical 'reading' and examination of P. Ramlee's film, Seniman Bujang Lapok. Central to its argument is the appropriation of such a film as historical sources for the study of Malay society in the 1950s-60s Singapore. By contextualising P. Ramlee's portrayal of Malay society within several key developments in his life and era, the article propounds some major themes that reflect the challenges and anxieties faced by Malays then. It is hoped that this article will induce scholars towards a rigorous interrogation of Malay films which are currently at the margins of Singapore's historiography.

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