Original film title in Malay: Satay
Directed by K. M. Basker
Starring: Wahid Satay, Salmah Ahmad, Aiddie Ali
Produced by Cathay-Keris Films
Esplanade Park (Queen Elizabeth Walk)
Mountbatten Road and Geylang River
Dakota Crescent (Old Airport) Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) Flats
Beach Road & Alhambra Theatre
North Bridge Road & Odeon Cinema
New Bridge Road & Majestic Theatre
Orchard Road & Cathay Cinema/Building
King George V Jubilee Park, Van Kleef Aquarium, Fort Canning Hill
Private housing estate in the vicinity of Goodman Road, Mountbatten Estate
Junction of Goodman Road and Wilkinson Road
Outside a double-storey modern-style bungalow (110, Wilkinson Road)
SATAY IS A CHARMING COMEDY FILM about parental responsibility, familial love and the acceptance of social differences. ‘Satay’ is also the name of its lead actor Wahid Satay. Cathay boss Loke Wan Tho had advised him to adopt his screen name after he gained popularity performing the role of a singing satay-seller in the Pontianak films; his real name is Abdul Wahid bin Haji Ahmad.
But in this film, ‘Satay’ is the name of the lead child character (performed by the adorable 3-year old Aiddie Ali). He is an orphan who is under the care of Tok Ali, a carpenter who discovers that he may be dying from tuberculosis. Tok Ali decides to find Satay the orphan a new foster father and goes scouting for one at the Esplanade Park (Queen Elizabeth Walk). Meanwhile, Kamil (Wahid Satay) has just broken up with his girlfriend (at MacRitchie Reservoir), because his rich parents found her to be of an inferior class and unsuitable for their son. A distraught Kamil drives about in his convertible and wanders to the Esplanade Park. Tok Ali singles Kamil out immediately as the potential foster father and points him out to Satay, telling him that Kamil is his biological father. Satay marches up to Kamil: “I want to go with you, Daddy!”
However reluctant, Kamil can’t bear to reject the “advances” of an innocent-looking kid, especially under the accusing eyes of the crowd at the seafront park (the Ocean Park Hotel standing in for Esplanade Park in some parts). Kamil takes Satay for a spin around the Singapore city. They stopped momentarily along Mountbatten Road, at the bridge over Geylang River, with newly-completed Dakota Crescent Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) flats forming the backdrop of the scene. Kamil wonders how he may get rid of this unwelcome burden and has a brief glance over the bridge parapet. Should he just push the kid over into the river?
Fortunately, a smile from Satay warms Kamil’s heart and removes his adverse thoughts. They continu with their city ride in his convertible, late into the night, passing a number of streets with iconic cinemas run by the Cathay Organization – Beach Road and Alhambra Theatre; North Bridge Road and Odeon Cinema; New Bridge Road and Majestic Theatre; Orchard Road and Cathay Cinema. The ride gets almost dizzying; Kamil desires to lose himself. To lose the kid.
Kamil resorts to leaving Satay in the care of his former girlfriend Fatimah (Salmah Ahmad), but even she can’t accommodate him, after disapproval from her mum. So, one night, Kamil drives Satay to the King George V Jubilee Park at the foot of Fort Canning Hill and abandons him there.
At the film’s end, as all the involved parties argue over who Satay really is and who should have a claim over him, Satay escapes from custody and runs into the neighbourhood around Goodman Road, Mountbatten Estate. After an anxious chase – through streets lined with modern upper-class bungalows, with SIT flats for the plebeians in the distance as backdrop – Kamil, Fatimah, Tok Ali and the rest eventually found him at the junction of Goodman Road and Wilkinson Road (opposite today’s Katong Swimming Complex). Everyone rekindles his or her bond with the boy. It is a happy ending, as Satay draws everyone into a familial relationship with one another, and they head off together as one big family.
1. ‘Adek Aiddie mengatasi yang lain2’. Berita Harian. 28 November 1958, p. 7.
2. ‘Interview with Wahid Satay’, Cinematheque Quarterly Jul-Sep 2013 (pp. 42-53). National Museum of Singapore, 2013.
3. ‘$7.5 million ‘suburb’ at Kallang’. The Straits Times. 27 December 1955, p. 2.
4. ‘Kallang Town to go up soon’. The Straits Times. 10 April 1956, p. 7.
5. ‘Kallang will be vital industrial suburb’. The Singapore Free Press. 23 July 1958, p. 5.
6. ‘Foundations for Van Kleef Aquarium being laid’. The Straits Times. 29 April 1940, p. 11.
7. ‘Aquarium project must wait 2 years’. The Straits Times. 10 November 1946, p. 5.
8. ‘City folk flock to new Singapore park’. The Straits Times. 18 April 1948, p. 3.
9. ‘Another fine landmark for Singapore’. The Singapore Free Press. 8 September 1955, p. 1.
10. ‘Privileges to continue’. The Straits Times. 14 March 1963, p. 7.
11. MacRitchie Reservoir. Singapore Infopedia. National Library Board, 2004.
12. The Esplanade. Singapore Infopedia. National Library Board, 2004.
13. Odeon Cinema. Singapore Infopedia. National Library Board, 2006.
14. Cathay Building. Singapore Infopedia. National Library Board, 2004.
15. Majestic Theatre. Singapore Infopedia. National Library Board, 2004.
16. Van Kleef Aquarium. Singapore Infopedia. National Library Board, 2013.
17. Mountbatten Estate. Singapore Infopedia. National Library Board, 2005.
© 1958 Cathay-Keris
© 2003 Comstar Home Entertainment
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