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Permed hair, threaded brow 
- all to play P. Ramlee

Tony Eusof (above). BH FILE PHOTO

It is probably the most important role in Malaysian actor-host Tony Eusoff's career so far.

He was first cast as the legendary P. Ramlee in P. Ramlee The Musical before director Melissa Saila picked him to play the late veteran again in Saloma.

To prepare, Tony, 37, watched every single P. Ramlee movie, including Pendekar Bujang Lapok (1959) and Madu Tiga (1964). He watched at least two each day to pick up on little nuances in speech, behaviour and gestures.

His efforts paid off, as his performance earned him praise from Melissa's actress-mother Mariani, who is Saloma's older sister and had briefly dated P. Ramlee.

"She patted my back and told me 'Very good, you really remind me of P. Ramlee'.

"It was just that one comment but it means so much.

"If Mariani thinks so then I don't give a damn what anyone else thinks," Tony told The New Paper in a telephone interview from Kuala Lumpur.

SHARED TITBITS

Mariani also shared little-known titbits about Saloma and her husband P. Ramlee with Tony during her visit to the set.

"She would talk about domestic things, like when P. Ramlee married Saloma. He didn't want her to cook or do household chores.

"He would get Mariani to cook for them," he said.

Tony was surprised that he was chosen to star in the biopic, as he felt he shared little similarity to P. Ramlee.

For him to look like P. Ramlee, he had to grow a moustache, retain his permed hair for a month and even thread his eyebrows.

But he soon discovered they shared common traits.

"We are both very serious about our work. He is friendly with his co-stars on set, but he would also not hesitate to tell anyone off for not being fully committed. He also valued trust, loyalty and discipline," said Tony.