Singapore Film Locations Archive

Penghidupan / Life (1951)

Original film title in Malay: Penghidupan
English title: Life
Chinese title: 粉蝶猖狂

Directed and written by L. Krishnan
Dialogue by Haji Mahadi
Songs and gurindam by Ahmad Jaafar
Produced by Malay Film Productions (Shaw Brothers)
In Malay
Cast: P. Ramlee, Rokiah Jaafar, Maria Menado, Daeng Harris

Released May 1951 (in Singapore)

Film Locations (in Singapore):
Connaught Drive
Tanjong Pagar Railway Station
Victoria Theatre and Memorial Hall
Gemmill Fountain
Supreme Court

“In the Katong area, in eastern Singapore, lives Jaafar, a rich man, together with his wife Rubiah and her brother, the charming but badly-behaved Salim (P. Ramlee). One day, Salim visits his grandfather in Johor, where he meets a young and attractive girl, Salbiah (Rokiah). Salbiah’s family is deeply in debt to a man, and would marry Salbiah to the man if they couldn’t repay the debt. Sympathising with Salbiah, Salim promises to her help raise the money. Ecstatic and thankful, Salbiah gives her chastity to Salim. Back in Singapore, Salim writes to her after a long silence that he in fact cannot help her and that he will not see her again. Heartbroken, Salbiah leaves her family and starts wandering through Singapore in search of the treacherous Salim.” (Raphael Millet, ‘Singapore Cinema’, 2006)

_01-Penghidupan-Connaught Drive


_03-Penghidupan-Victoria TheatreGemmillFountain_04-Penghidupan-GemmillFountain


James Harding and Ahmad Sarji’s ‘P. Ramlee: The Bright Star’, 2002, pages 37-38:

“Having seduced the heroine Salbiah with promises to pay the family’s debts, he then plans to marry a wealthy woman Halimah (Maria Menado). By a trick, however, he is lured into marriage with the heroine who has since given birth to his baby. This ‘pathetic story of a woman who is sacrificed at the alter of chastity’, as the posters phrased it, enabled P. Ramlee to develop his talent still further, this time as a hero with more than a hint of danger, a lovable but unscrupulous Casanova. (…)

“The film also gave rise to controversy. The Malay Welfare Association of Singapore criticised it as harmful to the Malay character, religion and customs. Among the objectionable points it listed was the scene where a Sikh demands payment of a debt from Salbiah’s mother and subsequently praises Salbiah’s beauty [16:07]. Another insulted Malays, the Association argued, when it showed the Sikh’s Malay servant pressurising Salbiah’s mother to surrender her daughter to the Sikh. The Association further claimed that Islam and Malay honour were outraged by the episode in which Salbiah was invited by Salim (P. Ramlee) into an empty house, the implication being that the purpose was sexual [26:30].

“The sequence where Salbiah gave birth in a baby in hospital and breastfed [him/her] was claimed to be disgraceful behaviour for a Malay woman. When Salbiah was released from hospital, the nurse should have told her about the government’s social welfare body; the Association declared, thus giving useful publicity to that organisation and its work. The scene where Salbiah and her baby were harassed by two young Malays reflected badly on Malay youth, as did several unrelated scenes of merrymaking. Finally, the deceit of exchanging brides was against Islamic religious practice and Malay custom. All these points were summarised in an official letter sent to the Singapore Film Censor and to Dato’ Onn Jafaar. It did little to harm the success of the film.”

Filming locations of Penghidupan:
Connaught Drive [0:01]
Tanjong Pagar Railway Station [58:37]
Victoria Theatre and Memorial Hall [59:11]
Gemmill Fountain [59:27]
Supreme Court [59:34]

Film Images:
© 1951 Malay Film Productions




19510519 Penghidupan Newspaper Ads


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