Tuesday, January 10, 2017


By Mansor Puteh

The most important and interesting television dramas and feature films in the world are those that record time and place or space. They are the ones that record the fast-changing scenery and mostly thoughts and concerns of the day, as the country develops and grows.

They cannot be held in a suspended existence or they are nothing but crass entertainment cheap in artistic, cultural, political, economic and also religious values and not serving any cause other than to fill space in the schedules and cinema halls and gossip columns of some tabloids and social media channels.

Malaysia deserves better; and by now it should have a more vibrant film and television industry that reflect the fast-changing scene and increased level of the appreciation of the arts and intellect.   

This is certainly not what the government and respective ministries and other agencies had tried to do without getting anything in return.

And the viewers and people the thirty million citizens of this country of diverse and unified backgrounds certainly do not deserve to see the films and television dramas not reflecting these attributes that we are proud of that are often said and repeated by many political, social, cultural and religious elders over the many years especially since Independence or Merdeka and with the establishment of the agencies and also ministries and associations and groups to bear.

What seems to have gone wrong? Who is responsible for this to happen? Can the major problems faced by the industry be solved? Who can bring about the well-needed change to it?

It is therefore excruciatingly painful for me to watch the local television drama serials and telemovies or television features that are shown everyday on television, as it has been so for so long with no prospect of ever getting anything interesting to lull me by.

The local films in Melayu, Chinese and Tamil fare no better.

The television dramas must have words such as ‘Cinta’, ‘Kasih’ and ‘Sayang’ in it. Even if there are attempts to have them shot abroad, any of these words must be in the title.

Just what does the title of this drama serial mean? ‘Diaspora Cinta’? It is not easy to translate it into English.

The most glaring issue concerns how all of the television dramas and also films seem to be lost in space and time – the Malaysian space and time, that is!

Some smarter film directors wanted to exhibit some measure of intellectualism and his pride in having some sort of foreign influences attempted to pay tributes to genres that are not so well-known here.

I had written TV3’s first and second telemovies called ‘Basikal ku’ and ‘Kadir dan Kim’ where I tried to add elements which are hitherto missing in all the television dramas that have been produced since, the Malaysian space and time!

So no wonder all (ALL!) the television dramas are those that have so few scenes – and they are scenes in the living rooms, bedrooms, inside of cars (mostly expensive ones, even those characters driving them are those who could not afford to drive much less to own them), company board rooms, shopping malls and so forth.

And if there are attempts to take the dramas abroad, the actors do not seem to car what the weather is, as all of them wear layers of clothes and gloves and woolen hats, when those locals around them are wearing their summer or spring clothes and simply.

And the scenes show the Malaysian characters communicating with each other like they are in Malaysia. Their attitude and mentality are the same.

The Malaysia that we know of now and today is missing.

No one seems to take the LRT or monorel. And they do not eat in warungs or walk on the sidewalks.

And no one seems to be riding the small motorcycles.

Everybody wears formal clothes and there is no sense of time to show the different styles and ways Malaysians communicate with each other face to face or by phones.

Worse, all (ALL) the television dramas and many feature films are no more than visual radio dramas.

The scripts that were written all have the characteristics of radio plays or dramas where the dialogue element is used to the full.

And it is also why those ‘script experts’ and analysts at the television station could appreciate them because they often read the scripts for television dramas like they are reading radio plays or letters that do not have meanings other than what is written and expressed by the characters.

Most of the time the scenes are static with the characters sitting in groups. There is no attempt for the writers to break those scenes to create and introduce ‘stage business’ and ‘stage movement’.

The directors who are mostly not properly trained do not also make any attempt to write the scenes so that they have these elements.

Many feature films too have such errors that reflect the poor directing qualities that they have that reflect how poorly trained they are.

Malaysia of today is missing in television dramas and films; that for future generations to watch and for social anthropologists and psychologists and cultural and history experts of the future, they can never ever find anything in them that is worthwhile to study the state of the development of the country in many levels including economic and philosophical.

Malaysia is not well-recorded in the television dramas and films and they do not record the everyday scenes of the fast-changing Malaysia which is unlike the old Melayu films produced by the studios in Jalan Ampas and East Coast Road in Singapore that had those elements that can give a lot of ideas for many to remember the days that had gone by with many of them not having lived through the eras that the country had gone through before and after the Second World War or the Japanese Occupation of Malaya.  

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