Bangsawan Film Analysis

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Research at the Malaysian Production Policy Division (2009) reveals that the film industry in Malaysia began in Singapore. In 1933, the first commercial film produced in Singapore made use of Bangsawan (opera) personalities.Bangsawan was then the popular traditional form of entertainment. The Bangsawan players readily adapted themselves to film-making, and movies quickly became a new entertainment medium among the masses.The first Malay film to be produced was Laila Majnun (1938) a tragic love story in the vein of Romeo and Juliet. A number of business people associated with personalities of the aristocrats which in the Malay language known as the Bangsawan were responsible for the production of this movie. An Indian national, B.S. Rajhans, was the director of the film. According to some veteran actors, around 1937, a Western film company sent their film unit to Singapore to produce a Malay movie entitled Dooloo. This film, directed by an American, also made use of the Bangsawan personalities. The early movies were such big hits that the Shaw Brothers, who had just begun their involvement in the entertainment world, decided to venture into film-making. Using used film equipment imported from Shanghai, the brothers set up their own studio at Ampas Road, Singapore. Employing film technicians from Shanghai and personalities from Bangsawan and stage dramas, the brothers produced four Malay movies (Mutiara, IbuTiri, Bermadu and TigaKekasih) in the period of 1938 to 1939. All

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