Monday, 3 August 2015

Remembering Singapore's Golden Age of Film-making in Satay Club Game

In my game Satay club, I feature several films that were made in Singapore in the 1940s till the 60s.

It's worth noting that the Malay Film scene didn't really take off until 1948. that was when the film called Chempaka starring Kasma Booty was released. Kasma Booty was the main attraction of that film and the cinema halls were filled with eager viewers wanting to watch the beautiful bombshell on the silver screen. Long lines formed outside the theatres and people were clamoring for tickets. It broke every attendance record at the Alhambra Theatre's history at the time.

I have no doubt the satay men at Satay Club would have done a roaring business during that time. Imagine the huge number of people stopping by to eat satay or mee siam right after the show at the Alhambra Theatre.

This one film was a huge success for Shaw Brothers. A story about an Indonesian girl who refused to forsake her lover for a prince.  Quoting from the Singapore Free Press published on 12 May 1948:
"...the scenes were local, the language was Malay and shapely Kasma was a sensation."
And the copywriters for Shaw Brother's went on overdrive and wrote this in the Straits Times on 15 April 1948:
"...Comparable with any Hollywood Production!"


Maybe it was the marketing, maybe it was just the alluring beauty of Kasma Booty and her captivating eyes. But whatever it was, the then 16 years old Kasma Booty became an overnight sensation and marked the rise in Malay Films. People kept wanting more of that genre of films featuring native islanders clad in sarong with flowers in their hair singing and dancing under the tropical sun.


Kasma Booty in the 1948 film Chempaka


This film was her first time appearing on the silver screen. Kasma Booty was already married at age 14.

The photo I posted above is a screen capture of Kasma Booty in that film. This photo of her dancing reminded me of Silvana Mangano. If you don't know Silvana you should check out her dance in the 1951 film called Anna. Titillating!



Can you imagine how rowdy it was with all the hot blooded young men in the theatre wolf-whistling the moment when Kasma Booty appeared on screen?


"The house was packed... the audience was very audibly delighted with the beauty and charm of Kasma Booty.." 

Kasma Booty was 2 years younger than Silvana. Who knew about Italian cinema back then in this part of the world right? But almost everybody knows Hollywood films. So Kasma Booty was often regarded as the Elizabeth Taylor of Malaya back then. Elizabeth Taylor is the same age as Kasma Booty by the way.

Elizabeth Taylor

Fun fact: The comedian S. Shamsudin appeared in that film Chempaka as an extra. He was just beginning his acting career then.

There is another film(genre) that I casually mentioned in Satay Club Game. I will discuss more about that together with Zubir Said and Yusof Ishak in my next post.


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