Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesdays With Bapak

Going To The Movies -- August 19 2008

I know I enjoyed going to the cinema when I was young. It was always with Bapak or my older siblings. In later years, I'd go to the cinema with my siblings or a couple of good friends.

It was always a great outing for us, kids.

If it was with Bapak, we'd go by car. If Kak Ton or Kak Piah wanted to take us, we'd take the bus from PJ to Foch Avenue in KL.

It would either be a long car or bus trip to KL, or short one to the PJ cinemas.
When we were in Section five (PJ), we'd walk to Majestic or State cinemas in Old and New PJ town respectively. After we moved to Section 16 (PJ), we'd take the Sri Jaya number 43 or 36 bus to PJ.

The earliest movie that I remember Bapak taking me to was a thriller about a man who had powers to go through a wall. I must have been about five or six years old. I'm not sure of the title but it could be "The Fourth Man". It was at Majestic cinema at Jalan Othman, Old PJ.

I don't have much memory of it, except that I was dozing off all the time. I remember Bapak was reluctant to take me because it was an evening show and he was going there with a friend. But I would not take "no" for an answer so Bapak had to relent. Poor Bapak.

Mak warned Bapak to watch out for me because of my habit of falling asleep in the cinema.

I also remember Mak's youngest sister, Latifah whom we call Mak Busu, taking the lot of us to see a Malay movie, "Tanggang" at Coliseum.

I could later connect the rationale behind mothers often telling their children "jangan jadi macam Si-Tanggang". In other words, "jangan derhaka kepada ibu". More or less like THIS.

Among the most memorable films I watched as a kid were "The Sound Of Music" and "How The West Was Won" and a little later, "James Bond - From Russia With Love" and "Dr Zhivago".

And how can I ever forget Hindi classics "Sangam" and "Bobby" at the Coliseum, on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, then known as Batu Road?

As a teenager, you'd catch me at the State cinema with Kak Eda, going for the latest Mandarin sword-fighting movie.

We used to be fluent in Mandarin and until today, Mandarin period movies remain my all-time favourite.

In my teens, Kak Ton never missed any of Christopher Lee's "Dracula" films. So, she'd drag us all along with her to where Count Dracula was -- which was either the Odeon or the Federal.

Every time after a Dracula movie, we'd get into this unexplained "takut" mode.

Once at home, we'd all be doing things together. Sleep together on a mattress at night, go together to the kitchen if we felt like that late-night glass of Milo, and we would have someone wait outside the bathroom for any one of us.

Yes, I'd get nightmares all the time. And I'd still want to go for the next Dracula film.

Reflecting, I can laugh about how tame they really were compared to the horror movies of today.

Kids today think nothing of going to the Cineplex, Golden Screen Cinema or Tanjong Golden Village theatres to watch any one of the 10 movies showing. In fact, they can choose to see one movie after another.

In those days, only one movie would usually be screened for the 1pm, 3pm, 6pm, 9pm and midnight shows. And then they'd have a Sunday matinee.

I stand corrected, but those days, normal seats would each cost between 80 cents and maybe $1.15 and the reserve seats upstairs would each cost between $1.80 and $2.

And there would always be a massive congestion at the parking areas because, once you got in, you'd have to wait for the show to be over to get out. So if you were going in for a show, you'd have difficulty entering the parking area.

But I suppose, that was how things were so people accepted it as a norm.

I remember that we would always be reminded to go to the toilet at home before going to the movies because the toilets at the cinemas were horrendous.

Aah... the downside of our movie outings.

As I got older, and the city began changing and got more congested, I didn't relish the thought of going to the movies because of a variety of reasons such as traffic jam and/or parking problem.

A couple of cinemas were built near Bapak's place (Sentosa cinema) and later my own home (Ria cinema). They were not too bad, a little more modern than the "archaic" cinemas. I'd catch shows there whenever good ones were screened.

I remember going to Ria to catch the evening show of "Gandhi" with my old friend, Zainah Anwar.

But, most of the time, I'd rent video tapes.

My first introduction to sack theatres and an upgraded and sophisticated kind of movie-going was as a student in Boston, Massachusetts in 1980.

It was a totally new and enjoyable experience. And I was born-again movie-goer.

I think sack theatres came to KL and were popularised in the late 80s. Awesome, I thought. Revolutionized movie-going for movie buffs.

One Sunday last year, I took Adel and Shaira for lunch at the old Coliseum Restaurant on Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman. Oh, just to relive some glorious past.

Indeed, it was nothing like the contemporary-styled restaurants that kids these days are so used to.

After lunch, on our way to the car park near the EPF building, we passed by the Coliseum cinema.

I gave my kids a running commentary of its history and reminisced my movie-going days.

I could see them trying to form pictures in their mind of their mother queuing up for tickets in a place so far removed from the kind of cinema with which they are so familiar.

They could not imagine the "hardship" I would have to go through just to watch a movie.

"Didn't they have the same shows being screened near where you lived?", Shaira asked.

Yes...indeed. How our lives and lifestyle so differ. And even in this era of cineplexes, Adel is thankful for DVDs.


Anonymous said...

Dear Raina,
The earliest show you that you said you saw, is actually "4D Man" starring Robert Lansing.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ena,
Reading this reminds me how much my siblings and I used to enjoy going to the movies with our late father(he passed on last wednesday. I miss him sooo much. Thank you for the post). Movies were a form of reward for doing well in school, birthdays or his gaji time. We'd be the first to watch P.Ramlee's movies as soon as they hit the JB cinemas and saw most of the good Hollywood classics like Guns of Navarone and The Longest Day. As he also liked Elvis or thought we did, he took us to to see Blue Hawaii, Kissing Cousins and Fun in Acapulco .I remember one movie where everyone was dancing the twist at the height of the twist craze. As soon as we left the cinema he bought the record (vinyl of course) Let's Twist Again and made us twist. I swear we were the first JB kids to be twisting and rolling! Ha ha ha. And we had to "perform" whenever relatives came to visit!
I thought you were going to relate the story of how your father, in his anxiety to rush you to see a show, did your homework for you! Do you remember telling me this and how I fell about laughing? You said you were doing your maths homework when he decided to take you all to the cinema. Since you hadn't finished he offered to help so that you wouldn't be late. The next day you kena marah from your teacher because they were all wrong! So typical of my Pak Samad! My funny, know-it-all, reckless Pak Samad. Enjoy him while you can, Ena.

Anonymous said...

Aina, you are fluent in mandarin too !? how about a debate VS omar shahrif ( in mandarin lah ), ok ?

me,a chinese, VS Lks ( in BM) !
ok ? please arrange, tq !

Rockybru said...


You remember the movie "Raja Bersiung"? It was shot at Pasir Panjang in Singapore in the late 60s. My late dad took me there to the location when I was thrilled to watch it later on the silver screen. When I was very small, I wondered why blood in the movies was black instead of red.

My early movies we watched at panggung wayang Keppel (I think). It was a building made mostly of wood (the seats were wooden benches, really) and zinc (the wall was made of zinc, also the canopy-like roof for the "more expensive" benches right at the back). 70 per cent of 80 per cent of the benches had no roof above -- it was open air! Some nights it would rain and everybody (except those in the reserved benches at the back) would take out their umbrellas!

I watched Raja Bersiong there. Also the first Bruce Lee movie (Big Boss?).

The Keppel cinema was located at Batu 8, West Coast Road. A few miles east, in Pasir Panjang, was a more proper cinema called Ciros. The building was still there the last time I passed it. I remember watching a war movie with my Abah but we preferred Keppel in those days.

Anonymous said...

my 1st 'proper' movie was ' the king & I ' in the 50s in Ipoh but the theatre cathy has turned into a minishop NOW ! lido = a restaurant, ruby = furniture shop.
another 4 or 5 = something else !

Anonymous said...

Aishah Ali said... of "your Bapak doing your Maths homework Since you hadn't finished he offered to help so that you wouldn't be late. The next day you kena marah from your teacher because they were all wrong!"

LOL! that is so funny. :D


here's my most unforgetable experience of movies in PJ.

i'll never forget the movie theatre in section 17 [bet it's no longer there, right ena?].

till today my skin still crawls at the memory. and no, it wasn't a horror flick. in fact i don't even remember what movie it was.

all i remember about the whole episode was something scurrying on my feet. i screamed (so did many others in the movie hall) and pulled my feet up on the seat and spent the rest of the show perched precariously that way.

the place was infested with vermins. they'd come scurrying out to feed on fallen tidbits as soon as the lights dimmned. shudder!

notice i can't even write the name of those bleeping things. that's how grossed out i am till today. hehehe!

Anonymous said...

chinese schools getting the miserable 200k each in PP just because of byelection to hook the
chinese votes, ok lah...let's have many more byelections lah !! tq anyway !

Raison D'etre said...

Kak Aina,

On Si Tanggang: It was one of the first Malay language book I read and very vivid in its potrayal of the Orang Asli's lifestyle.

Even the part before Si Tanggang turns to a stone statue boggles the mind.

Recently I came across a newer version (imagine that) and some sections was apparently re-written in what I could construe as moral policing.


I imagine that if the moral police could do the same to some of our old movies, they do that too.

Anonymous said...

During my primary and lower secondary school days in Kuantan and Pengkalan Chepa, I rarely went to the cinema. There’s no need for that. We had mobile cinema coming to the areas that we lived, ever so often. The PG rating is merely academic. Anyone is welcomed, from babies to grannies.

My favourite is the action-packed movies with the actors in full Roman regalia (ala the Gladiators), fighting all kinds of mythology monsters (not unlike Clash of the Titans). Cartoonist Lat captures the atmosphere so exuberantly in his many masterpieces.

In those days, they also sell movies in LP, to be listened to. My favourite is Akhir Sebuah Impian. And don’t you think the old Majalah Filem and such like magazines are like, er, blue literature, and I’ve seen a few lying around in those days? Some of the cerpens in Jawi (Malay writing script based on Arabic script) make Mangga seems so pale in comparison.


Oghé Baruh said...



maklumat lengkap:


Anonymous said...

Dracula .... it reminds me of one sexy actress, Veronica Carlson. It was not scarry,I got horny instead. Never fail to see those Hammer Film production, irrespective whether Dracula Has Risen From The Grave(Lee) or Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (Cushing) or the likes which she acted. It must be late 60's and I was in primary school then.

About Elvis movies, Odeon, Kota Bharu caught fire just after the late night show entitled Girls,Girls,Girls. My house was 2 blocks from the cinema and we were so worried as Shell filling station was just next to it.
My condolence to you and your other Alis siblings of SIGS. My wife was from there.

Anonymous said...

Talking about rating, when I was below 16, film like Helga or other 'adults' films were for those above 16. When I reached that age, King Ghaz?? elevate to 18. Sickening.

Anonymous said...

The good old days... still remember when Hari Keputeraan Sultan Johor all the school children will get a free tix to the movie...so all of us will make a bee line at Rex and Lido for that free movie...
recall any of that..?
Why cant the cineplexes these days give free tix....?


Anonymous said...

Hi Kak Ena,
Nice to recall old memories of PJ. Is it Sect 5 or Sect 3 (Kawasan Melayu) PJ Old Town when u mentioned about where u onced lived. I remember Sangam! I too used to watch the Cheap Matinee movies at the Majestic cinema @ old town those days.
Sometimes we'd go the State cinema @ the new town.
However, the place was made famous by the cinema that people would call the area State instead of new town.
I still remember the A&W drive-thru of those days where we would go for root beer with float of course. The A&W is still there but the feeling is very different from those days. Cheers!





thank you thank you thank you.

i used to remember the name of the film. but over the years, it has escaped me... old age, methinks.

i shall not forget the name. I knew it could not be "The Fourth Man" becos that is another film (which I have seen). I knew it had a 4..thanks again.


kudu (aishah ali),

again, my condolences to you, bee, ning, aman and the rest of your siblings.

those days, it was a big thing when our parents took us out for a movie, wasn't it?

oh...i forgot to mention that Bapak loved western, war, and espionage movies and also thrillers.

later, after his release from ISA (in 1981), he rented and bought lots of video tapes from Ban Lee at Jaya supermarket. I think Bapak was one of Ban Lee's earliest customers when it operated as a stall. Bapak was so regular that he was pretty special to them and got fantastic treatment.

Bapak has a whole collection of James Bond tapes.

alamak.... you know i wanted to write about that time when he helped with my arithmetic homework, ya-lah...i should've mentioned it, kaan?

I was in standard three and it was standard three arithmetic and i got all 10 answers wrong, thank you to Bapak.

Bapak did it so fast and I was so happy....but it turned out...alamak..i ahd to do corrections.
when i told him that i got all 10 wrong, he grinned and replied: "Yah, kah?"

many things i forget but some things i just cannot.

after that -- no way... i refused help from Bapak for arithmetic problems.

but he's cool. that;s why he'd never get on our case,if we didn't score in arithmetics or maths.

he understands, our, er....limitations.

yes...Kudu, Alhamdullillah, Bapak is ok...getting more and more frail by the day. slipping slowly away.
but Inshallah, he'll see through Ramadhan and Syawal and whenever Allah SWT wills it.


anon@11:06pm: these days, i'm no longer fluent. it needs practice. in school, the "remove" class girls were the ones with whom i'd practice my Mandarin..Kak Olin, Kak Eda and I learnt Mandarin at Bapak's insistence because Bapak himself was fluent in Mandarin during his SIngapore days, he was close to the Chinese middle school students. Bapak believed Mandarin to be a very important and useful language.

We used to watch Mandarin films on TV and used to translate them for Mak... sometimes we'd converse in Mandarin among ourselves at home.

When I started work at NST, I suggested that Mandarin classes be conducted for reporters. The editorial admin office initiated something but faced a setback. so we never got started. A pity.

Anonymous said...

Hope you didn't mind me 'exposing' this anecdote about your Dad cos it s things like these that endear him to us who look up to him.
Thank you Dannalli for your wishes about my Dad, I will tell my sister Saleha and Zainun (ex-SIGS). What's your wife's name? Our contemporary? (read: old)
And yes jajanjohorbahru, I remember the free tickets on Sultan's birthday and Merdeka day. We, students, always looked forward to those movie passes to either Rex, Cathay or Lido. Sigh! Those were the good ole days kan?

Anonymous said...

Nice read!

My office is now at Menara Mutiara Majestic,the former site of the Majestic cinema.

I have fond memories of watching movies in the 70s and 80s.

Having grown up at the NEB Quarters at Jalan Pantai Bahru/Jalan Bangsar, I used to take the bus to KL to catch movies at Federal,Rex, Pavillion, Cathay, Wisma Shaw and Central(for Hindi movies.

After getting down at Foch Avenue, I either walked or took the Tong Foong bus to cinemas like Rex, Cathay and Pavillion or took the Len Seng bus to Federal.

I caught Saturday Night Fever and Grease at Wisma Shaw.

In 1981, I watched Spielberg's 'Raiders of The Lost Ark' at Rex, three shows on the same day, 1pm, 3.15pm and 6.30pm.In fact, I watched ROLA seven times in the cinema.

I watched Scorcese's 'The Last Waltz' at Ria and Ashby's 'Let's Spend The Night Together' at Sentosa.

Woody Allen movies were hardly shown; went for a Woody Allen Film Festival at the Lincoln Cultural Center.

French and German films I caught at the respective cultural centres.

I have always loved movies.

Each time I holiday overseas, I end up bringing back tons of DVDs. In Sydney, I had to get a new Samsonite suitcase to fit in over 60 DVDs.

In the US last December, same case. I managed to get the five-hour plus 'Das Boot', the entire catalogue of the original 'Sherlock Holmes',the entire catalogue of pre 60s Hitchcock movies dating back to the early 20s, etc.

My wife insists that the Director's Commentary was thought of with me in mind!

By the way,after visiting the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, my second visit to the museum the first was in '94, I located and dropped in at Spielberg's mother's deli. Though aged 87, she looks like a schoolgirl, I swear. She simply could not beleive that my family and I took the trouble to look her up. It was one of the biggest thrills of my life, I can never possibly meet her son. She gave us a tour of the deli, the photographs on the wall were awesome. Back in 1980,when I was 17,I had written an article in the newspaper about Spielberg; I truly admire his abilities, his angles, lighting techniques,storytellin, etc.

My late mother, she passed away in 1995, was admirer of his talent, too.

Yes, memories.

Prabha Nayar

Mat Salo said...

Kak Ena,
I was intrigued by anon@jajanbaru's comments because it all came flooding back!

He (she?) must've been my contemporary. I spent part of my primary school years in JB and the Sultan's birthday was something we looked to because of the free cinema tickets to Rex or Lido. But the tickets were in limited supply as I shall explain in a minute...

I was glad my Std. 5 Assesment results came out great, else life would've taken a different turn for me. And why is that? Well, at Standard 4, me and two other blokes got so good at 'forging' the free tickets that we were able to sell the fakes... Then this transferable skill proved useful in boarding school later - I was able to forge the HM's signature for 'town leave' chits ... eh don't tell ACA arr?

Aah,we must've crossed paths either in that vermin-infested S17 (ya mek yam?) or Paramount in the 70's. Remember Paramount was billed as the largest cinema back then?

BaitiBadarudin said...

Oh ya, Paramount, State and way back to Central and Lido in Singapore. Those were the days, my friends!

Anonymous said...

She doesn't want to be precise ... just junior to D Zainun. He,he.

Anonymous said...

aina, ni hau ma ? wo ai ni, ke yi ma !?

Anonymous said...

Tumpang lalu Sis Ena...
Mat Salo and aishah ali..if u'r craving for jb food drop by at jajanjohorbahru.blogspot.com
Sis Ena..heard that one of your relative has a nice makan place near Jalan Tasek (near Jabatan Pendidikan Johor, STF) kat pokok besar, we call it Mr. Bean Corner :)


Kayelmiumiu said...

Great read. My father used to work for Shaw Brothers. We lived nearby his work place which is BB Park (now BB Plaza / Sungai Wang). Inside the amusement park there were three cinema. I remembered Rialto, Sun and Canton. All of them showed reruns. The Rialto showed English movies whereas the other two were for Chinese movies. I literally grew up in them because my mother will parked me in one of them while she went off to work. All in all it was a wonderful time. I cocooned myself in the cool darkness and totally get lost in the world of make belief. My heroes then were 'Long Ranger' and 'Zorro'. I think the greatest shame of KL is the demised of Odeon cinema, its one of those rare building that still sport the original art deco architectural elements


hi nuraina,




i remember "Raja Bersiong" altho I never got to watch the wayang. I remember looking at the pictures in "Majallah Filem" or was it "Mastika Filem".

You were quite a movie-goer, weren't you? :D

I have never been to an open air movie...


anon@6:46am: that's part of development, i supppose.

my raison d'etre: haha...nothingis sacred for the moral police.

aMiR: mobile cinema? even better :).
we had no ratings....and we turned out ok, ya?

dannalli: come to think of it...all the female vampires were sexy...

jajanjohorbahru: sigh....cineplexes competing with one another to make the big bucks.

budak kawasan: when we first arrived in malaya, we stayed at jalan sentosa (kawasan melayu)... it was the middle double-storey unit of three linked units. there were no fences around our compound. in fact, the three units shared a huge common compound and a main gate.
i remember that house. it used to feel so huge, but over time, when i passed by the area, and the house, it didn;t look all that huge, after all.

we stayed theref or a few years before we moved to jalan lembah in section 5 (PJ) near the foot of Gasing Hills. we stayed there until late 1968 or early 1969. we moved to section 16 (PJ), where my dad is now.

yes...A&W. What remains my all-time favourite is the root beer. i still love it. kalau minum root beer dulu, konon2 minum beer. gelas pun macam gelas beer.



bapak was no mathematician, that's for sure. it wasn't funny when my arithmetic teacher marked my work.
the ones that i got were all correct and the ones that bapak did for, were all marked with crosses.

you're referring to Sentosa. oooh...those creepy crawlies..eeeuw.


prabha: you;re a real KL boy!
and i remember taking a taxi from my home in section 16, with my nephews and nieces in tow, to go to "Grease" in Wisma Shaw. It was the 8pm show, i think.
I wouldn't do that today.
and i cannot even remember where wisma shaw is???

thanks for the trip down memory lane.

mat salo: you never cease to amaze me, mat salo!

baiti: yes....those were, indeed, the days!

prabha: and what an experience you had in LA!


hanjin: wow...you lived and grew up right smack in bukit bintang...a city boy!

you're right about Odeon.

cuppie cake: ooh...really.. my mistake then. thanks.
rasa macam in coliseum pulak...