Thursday, January 15, 2009

thoughts of the day


This would be my first entry for the year 1430H and 2009.

I was reunited with my sifu Normah Nordin today. How I admire her strength and energy and standing up for what she believes in. I know that this iron lady works from her heart and has a passion in sharing knowledge with others. She is currently running an art studio in Muar, which is called Artnest Gallery, she partnered up with Hamid @ Midah and she teaches visual arts, performing arts and english to the local kids. Those kids are sure very lucky to have great teachers like Kak Normah and Midah.

Looking at the children's drawings and art work, I could sense the sincerity, naiveness and purity in their works. Things that I don't see with my own students. I guess, when one teaches with passion and sincerity, the individual who receives it would deliver the same.

It was Kak Normah, who roped Dida in in this job that she is doing for the finals of a pageant looking for the perfect role model for Malay girls. I am borrowing my costumes for the opening gambit. Anything for Kak Normah and Kak Dida who had been great teachers. They not only taught me the proper way things should be done in a production, but to work passionately and sincerely. They really inspire me.

At one point, later on this evening, as I sat watching the full dress rehearsals for the tv program that is going to be aired LIVE tomorrow night on a local telly station, I asked myself, where is the sincerity and purity in doing one's task. The rehearsals, mind me, was not a good one. Nobody seemed to know his or her function in that production. It started late, finished late, some guest artistes did not bother to attend, wardrobe malfunction and, to add salt to the injury, the contestants themselves did not looked prepared or giving a 100%.

I know it is not fair for me to judge something that has nothing to do with me, but the issue of portraying a Malay girl should take 200 gazillion more effort rather than just filling the telly with 'nice' but non functional and tacky dresses, which in return, does not portray a proper image of a Malay girl.

Being Malay, I was brought up with values of Islam and of Malay ancestry. I was taught to behave properly and how to treat other according to customs which relied a lot on religion it self. But, that was not what I saw. Especially when it comes to the issue of clothing and dressing up.

The proper way of a Malay girl dressing up should be descent and in compliance with the religion. I guess, the objective of the tv program is to find the perfect role model of a Malay girl who knows her roots, religion and culture - BY HARD. But, this was not being portrayed as I thought it should have been. I know, Puan Azah Aziz and Kak Zubaidah Sual would be restless the moment they see the finalists in their opening costumes.

The root of the problem.

I personally think that the production team did not bother to go in deeper when it comes to the main objective (which is made clear by the title of the program). Everything is just a matter of glitz, glam and money. Nothing much on revealing the beauty of the Malay Heritage namely in terms of clothing. Malay by name, but almost all contestants wore super modern clothes- and with horrendous cuttings such as the mermaid tail and long tail trailing the skirt. Where has gone the beauty of Kurung Pesak? Kebaya Pesak Depan? Baju Belah? Kurung Cekak Musang? - just to name a few. Fabric wise, why Lace? and not just simple woven cottons or raw silk? I did overhear somebody saying that they did not want the CLASSIC look because it would look KAMPUNG and out-dated. Er? Did Malays in history, lived in the city? Did your great grandparents lived in big towns? The fact is, majority of the Malays use to live by the river and sea, and water being their main mean of communication to the outside world. So, does that mean, the image of a Malay Girl should be introduced in complicated outfits compared to the simple Baju Kurung Pesak? And I always thought, Malays are supposed to be very simple people.

'A Clothes maketh a person ' - I read this somewhere. And it is SO true.

In costume design, a costume has an important function to relate certain signals to the audience such as gender and the period of time. And I guess, the production did not realize this. They had known from the start ( i am taking a wild guess at this) what the finalists are doing for the talent segment. Thus, the costumes they put on should compliment and accomodate the dramatics, movement and character. Is it appropriate for a Malay girl, in a pastel green mermaid tail skirt and Indonesian beaded kebaya to do the silat and reading poetry on being Malay? and a Mak Inang dressed up in a hot pink Pakistani Brocade Wedding Kebaya? It was heart breaking seeing the girls struggle with what they are wearing. The production should be aware of all these detailings.

The program is about searching for the perfect Malay Girl Role Model, but in the end, nothing looked Malay about the program. Sad but true. Young Malays should be aware of their roots. Hang Tuah once said, Takkan Melayu Hilang Di Dunia, but, i think, it is on the verge of extinction. Especially when we ourselves as Malays do not have place in our hearts, sincerely, appreciating what God has given to us. I hope the children at Artnest Gallery would grow up and appreciate what being Malay is all about.

My 2 cents for the day.

Jazakallahu Khair

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