Original film title in Malay: Kaseh Sayang
English title: Love and Devotion
Directed by Phani Majumdar
Written by Phani Majumdar
Starring: Saadiah, Neng Yatimah, Haji Mahadi, Jins Shamsuddin, Hashimah Yon
Produced by Malay Film Productions (Shaw Bros.)
Year of release: 1957
Seafront villa (presumably owned by Shaw Brothers; located at Loyang?)
Ocean liner anchored off Singapore Harbour
Kampong Glam Malay Girls’ School (Arab Street)
A wealthy Javanese couple decided to abandon their home in Singapore (a spacious seafront bungalow) to avoid the imminent Japanese Occupation. They managed to board the ship bound for Jakarta, but not their servant Halimah (Neng Yatimah), who had been entrusted to take care of their baby daughter Sukartini. Stranded in Singapore, the pair survived the painful ordeal of the occupation. They grew close to each other and Halimah became Sukartini’s foster mother, striving hard to educate her at Kampong Glam Malay Girl’s School. After the Japanese surrendered, Sukartini’s (Hashimah Yon) biological parents returned to Singapore to reclaim what they felt was originally theirs, and a tussle over Sukartini ensued.
Originally titled Antara Dua Kaseh (‘Between Two Loves’), Kaseh Sayang was written and directed by Phani Majumdar, who specialized in making social-realist-inspired melodrama films. It garnered positive reviews in the English press of the time, but it was hardly mentioned that the film’s narrative seemed to be inspired by a similar historical event seven years earlier, in 1950 – the Maria Hertogh Incident, which led to severe riots in Singapore, leaving 18 dead and 173 injured. Whereas the Maria Hertogh (Nadra bte Ma’arof) incident was driven by racial and religious tensions, the fictional film chose to concentrate on the class differences between the wealthy couple and the poor servant – the antagonisms that arose out of either side’s selfish claims over a girl they so adore.
1. ‘Tears flow in Malay film of occupation’. The Straits Times. 23 August 1957, p. 8.
2. ‘New Malay Production’. The Singapore Free Press. 24 August 1957, p. 4.
3. ‘Saringan dari gambar ‘KASEH SAYANG’’. Berita Harian. 16 August 1957, p. 6.
4. ‘Jadi Seniwati Terkemuka Chara Sukar’. Berita Harian. 30 August 1957, p. 6.
5. ‘Malay girls show their handiwork’ (Kampong Glam Malay Girls’ School). The Straits Times. 27 May 1950, p. 8.
6. Maria Hertogh riots. Singapore Infopedia. National Library Board, 2014.
7. Maria Hertogh (Nadra). Singapore Infopedia. National Library Board, 2004.
© 1957 Malay Film Productions
Digital Map Source:
Great Britain. Royal Air Force, Singapore photomap, National Library of Australia, MAP G8041.A4 s6 1950. [http://nla.gov.au/nla.map-vn502375]
© 2014 Toh Hun Ping