Thursday, September 3, 2009

Actor Ahmad Mahmud

Datuk Ahmad Mahmud is A Role Model to All

He is best remembered as Dr Ismadi, the soft-spoken “pedantic” antagonist in Tan Sri P.Ramlee’s classic film, Ibu Mertuaku. He was also unforgettable in his portrayal of the handsome, righteous and dignified Malay hero Hang Jebat back in the 1960s.

Fans of actor-director-producer Datuk Ahmad Mahmud would recall his definitive interpretations of these two roles in the films directed by P. Ramlee in 1957 and 1962 respectively.

Ahmad died of kidney failure on Wednesday at 10pm at his residence in Kampung Tunku, Petaling Jaya. He proved he was a fighter and a hero till the end. He was 82.

Ahmad is survived by his wife Datin Khadijah Mohamad, three children and nine grandchildren.

His screen life remains evergreen, and the good natured and dedicated actor will be fondly remembered by Malaysians.

It was not just Ramlee who loved working with him; other film directors were equally awed by his professionalism. He was serious about his work and humble to fans and friends.

Born Ahmad B. Mahmud in Rembau, Negri Sembilan, he began his acting career in 1951.

He was regarded one of the pioneers in Jalan Ampas studio in Singapore and successfully collaborated with the heavyweights in the industry including Ramlee, Siput Sarawak, Nordin Ahmad, late Normadiah and Datuk Sarimah Ahmad.

Before he ventured into acting, Mahmud had done various odd jobs and worked as a rubber tapper, painter, bus conductor, and timekeeper.

When he joined film studio Cathy Keris Film, he was summoned by the late director Ho Ah Loke to act in Perwira di Lautan (alongside Mimi Nordin).

In 1951, Ahmad was featured in the lead role in Matahari, a black-and-white film directed by Datuk Maria Menado, Omar Rojik and Aziz Jaafar.

A year later, Ahmad signed up with Shaw Brothers to make Istana Impian, which starred Saadiah, and also for Gadis Buta, with Rosini Merican.

He was a darling among moviegoers. When he played good roles, he was exceptionally good, and when he portrayed bad guys, he was even better!

He played the villain in Raja Bersiong about a ruthless king who consumes human blood. The movie, a Merdeka Filem Productions and directed by Datuk Jamil Sulong, was screened in 1967, the same year he left Merdeka Filem.

During an interview with the New Straits Times in 1987, Ahmad was quoted as saying that Raja Bersiong was one of his favourites.

He was brilliant in the role of Lahuma in the heart-wrenching Ranjau Sepanjang Jalan directed by Jamil (Sulong) in 1983. The film, about the struggles of a poor family and adapted from Shahnon Ahmad’s novel, also starred Sarimah, Puteri Salbiah and Melissa Saila.

Ahmad had always dreamt of becoming a film director. Money, it seemed, had been the setback.

When the local film industry faced uncertainties and businesses slumped, the actor forked out RM164,000 to buy film equipment for his newly established production company, Ahmad Mahmood Film Company.

Ahmad’s maiden directorial, Mama oh Mama, in 1967 was a self-produced tearjerker starring Dharma Harun Al-Rashid and Azean Irdawaty.

One of his outstanding directorial achievements was for Dendam Dari Pusara in 1982, the chilling thriller in which he also starred, and earned him the Best Actor trophy at the Malaysian Film Festival in 1983.

Later, Ahmad produced and directed many films including May 13 and Komplot.

Perhaps not many knew that Ahmad also song. He sang in his own movies such as Pertarungan, Isi Neraka, Sri Andalas and Gerhana.

Ahmad was awarded the Ahli Mangku Negara in 1987 and bestowed the Pingat Datuk Setia DiRaja, which carries the title Datuk, in 2005.

Source: New Straits Times, September 1, 2009
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