Funnyman had passion for film
Veteran Malay actor dies
Old actors don't die.
They just exit the stage for the next act.
That could be said for veteran Malay actor Datuk Abdul Aziz Sattar, known affectionately to his fans as Pak Ajis.
He was the last survivor of a comedic trio whose antics on screen as worn-out bachelors won them fans across different races.
Pak Ajis became best known for the Bujang Lapok (Raggedy Bachelors) quartet of films - Bujang Lapok (1957), Pendekar Bujang Lapok (1959), Ali Baba Bujang Lapok (1960) and Seniman Bujang Lapok (1961) - which all featured him, P. Ramlee and S. Shamsudin.
Pak Ajis died yesterday morning at KPJ Kajang Hospital in Selangor, Malaysia, reported Malaysian daily New Straits Times. He was 89.
Born in 1925 in Indonesia, Pak Ajis was part of the golden age of movie-making here and had appeared in more than 30 Malay movies since the 1950s.
Much of the filming was done at Malay Film Productions, located at Jalan Ampas, off Balestier Road.
Veteran writer/producer and Cultural Medallion winner Yusnor Ef, who had known Pak Ajis since the 1950s, first met him at the Jalan Ampas studio.
Mr Yusnor, 77, who is also the president of Perkamus, the Association of Malay Singers, Composers and Professional Musicians, said: "He wasn't always a comedian and had taken on some dramatic roles when I first got to know him in the 1950s.
"But as a comedian, he would ad-lib and make up his lines on the spot.
"He was always funny in real life, too, but as a director, he took his work seriously.
"We didn't always see eye to eye when he was working as a director, but he was also passionate about film-making. That was something I had a lot of respect for."
After studio owners Shaw Brothers closed down Malay Film Productions in 1967, Pak Ajis moved to Kuala Lumpur, where he continued to direct and act in Malay films.
His death is a loss for Malay cinema, said Singaporean artist and independent film-maker Adi Yadoni, 45.
But he also thinks that Pak Ajis' films will continue to inspire the new generation of Malay artists.
He said: "The Bujang Lapok films, for example, will continue to find newer fans because of the comic timing and funny dialogue."
Film-maker Sanif Olek, 44, was also saddened by the news.
He said: "He was the last link to the Bujang Lapok series, which, to me, was the golden era of Malay movies... It is without a doubt that his early movies - the Bujang Lapok series, in particular - touched the Malay community then, and many can still relate to them now."
The New Straits Times reported that Pak Ajis was rushed to the hospital on Sunday after suffering a heart attack.
He had complained of chest pains and collapsed in the home of one of his children.
He was treated at the hospital's coronary care unit and his condition had reportedly stabilised.
Pak Ajis' remains were taken to his residence in Bandar Tun Hussein Onn, Cheras in Kuala Lumpur, before burial at the Cheras Perdana Muslim cemetery yesterday afternoon, reported Malaysian daily The Star yesterday.
He was always funny in real life too, but as a director, he took his work seriously.
- Veteran writer/producer and Cultural Medallion winner Yusnor Ef, who has known Pak Ajis since the 1950s.
I'll never forget watching those movies
My social media feed was abuzz with activity when I woke up yesterday morning.
Datuk Abdul Aziz Sattarhad died.
It was sad news, especially for someone like me who grew up on endless re-runs of his classic movies.
I'll never forget watching those movies, as it was the perfect bonding tool for my brother and me (who grew up speaking English) and my grandmother (who spoke only Malay).
But the movies didn't just tickle the Malay funny bones. Indians, Eurasians and Chinese audiences laughed along.
The movies were not just a depiction of Malay life. It was life for all back then.
Pak Ajis' movies were of struggles in everyday kampung life and the need for cooperation to overcome them.
It was of class struggles and the need for humility among the rich. It was of finding humour in everyday life that people back then could all relate to.
Judging by the outpouring of grief on social networks like Twitter, it seems no one has forgotten Pak Ajis' movies.
It is also a reminder of the enduring appeal of movies from the heyday of Malay cinema and the messages within.
Let's not put gloss on it: Watching most of the Malay movies can be a painful experience, with overwrought action scenes or comedies marred by an embarrassing line of dialogue.
But most of the movies that came out of Shaw Brothers' Malay Film Productions were different. There was a mix of styles, weaving in drama, song and dance, absurd and sometimes surreal comedy.
There was also a racial mix in the production, with names like Lee Thiam Yiak, Wong Hong Peng and R Narayana featuring prominently in the credits.
Pajk Ajis' movies were not just entertaining. They remind me of the rich tapestry that make us whole as a society.