Shahnon.com
Home | About | Blog | Bahasa Melayu | Archives | Academic | Pictures | Store | Links | Contact

. books, movies, musics, social, politics, travel, photography, art, et cetera .

Saturday, August 05, 2006

 

Tuah & Jebat, Wangi jadi saksi II

Setiap Sabtu pasti saya tak terlepas daripada membaca kolum mingguan Dato' Johan Jaafar di NST. Kali ini, beliau menulis tentang pementasan Wangi Jadi Saksi oleh U-Wei Shaari.

Who really was responsible for slaying Jebat?
by Johan Jaafar

IN the play Wangi Jadi Saksi written and directed by U-Wei Haji Shaari, Hang Tuah does not kill Hang Jebat.

I am not going to reveal the secret just yet (you can check my previous entry. no harm revealing it here i guess :p), the play is still being staged at the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) Auditorium. But let me assure you the culprit is not one of the usual suspects. Certainly, there are many ways of looking at the Tuah-Jebat saga.

After all, the warrior who actually committed the act of derhaka (treason) differs in two major Malay sources. In Hikayat Hang Tuah, Jebat was the one, in Sejarah Melayu, one of the most reliable Malay historiographies, it was Hang Kasturi.

Within the Malay political construct, Tuah had always been the good guy, the panglima (warrior) whose loyalty to the sultan (king) was unbelievable. He was even willing to jump into a cesspool to save the king’s horse. Back in the early ’60s, Kassim Ahmad came out with a new "reading" of the saga. Jebat was the hero. He was the common man, the indefatigable fighter for justice and fairness and more importantly he died for "the cause". Imagine him going against his own king for he could not accept the fact that Tuah, his "brother" and close friend, was killed because of court politics. According to legend, Tuah was banished to Ulu Melaka by the wise Bendahara who believed in his innocence. Tuah was brought back to kill the rampaging Jebat. Like a good soldier Tuah did just that, without remorse.

Kassim’s interpretation of Jebat created quite a commotion. In an era when leftist literature was the in thing and leftist thinking trendy, Tuah posited a different concept of a hero in a new Malay society.

Jebat became the symbol of revolutionary thinking and critical readjustment. Suddenly, everyone wanted to be Jebat. Tuah lost his lustre and relevance. Jebat, who was for so long condemned as the traitor, suddenly attained cult status.

He was celebrated in Usman Awang’s Matinya Seorang Pahlawan, Dinsman’s Jebat and my very own Kotaku Oh Kotaku.

Some would argue U-Wei’s stage play is a "re-reading" of the Tuah-Jebat epic(again?). No, it is not revisionist history, just an epistemic shift in telling the legend. It is not one of those interpretations that will endear the loyalists and purists.

The play, staged in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of DBP, assembled talents from the Republic of Ireland, Australia, United Kingdom, Singapore and Malaysia. Produced by LeBrocquy Fraser, it is U-Wei’s much needed break from movie-making. He is better known as director of such films as Perempuan, Isteri dan..., Kaki Bakar and Joghro.

I have no problem with U-Wei’s retelling of the story, though. And how he placed Dang Wangi at the epicentre of the conflict. Remember, no one actually knew what happened when Tuah was allowed into the istana to confront Jebat. Whether Wangi was the witness when the two close friends fought to their last breath is an issue worth the attention. Or did they fight at all? Or did they engage in a discourse on righteousness or political correctness?

To begin with, Wangi Jadi Saksi is a hard sell. It is wordy, tough and demanding. It is at times moody, even vague. It is one of those Ibsenian constructs where you need to peel the onion to get to the core. Perhaps the central thesis in U-Wei’s interpretation is estrangement. It is about a man’s helplessness before the overpowering forces of circumstance.

Jebat is doomed from the start. He was fighting against the system. As he was reminded by Tuah, if the system fails, all hell will break loose. And the Malays will cease to exist (thus the famous phrase attributed to Tuah, "Tidak Melayu hilang di dunia."

Theatre is full of surprises. Theatre as it is does not reflect reality in the sense of fidelity to common everyday experience. Theatre is supposed to challenge the mind. In a way, like literature, theatre allows the "abstruseness" of the art to prevail. So, please bear with U-Wei for trying to play with words, to confront us with the abyss of our curiosity and ignorance and to remind us of his character’s impotent degradation. U-Wei did not have to get into Jacques Derrida’s idea of "notorious word- drunkenness" to achieve his aim. The story is self-telling, the words merely a vehicle. But words are powerful in Wangi Jadi Saksi — one needs a fine comb to meander through its meaning, nuances and innuendoes.

Just take a look at Pateh. Listening to him giving lessons on commerce, politics and politicking makes us sit up and listen. This guy is clever. He’s sly and mean, but he is the man of the day. The truth is I have never seen a more astute, dazzling and oily Pateh in my life. And Khalid Salleh, who plays him, elevates the character to a point where every scene becomes a feverish spectacle of style and emotion.

I have no complaint about Vanidah Imran, one of the most talented actresses today. Perhaps the stage is too big for her. She is a rookie trying to position her talent in a role too demanding for her. She is good, no doubt. At times she’s the tortured soul unbearably burdened by guilt and pleasure. The stage’s leisurely, sensuously voluptuous atmosphere keeps her busy moving around, but rarely with the conviction expected of the character. In this play, her flaws should not be exaggerated. Not many living actresses would be able to handle the challenge. She should not be faulted for trying hard.

U-Wei experiments with two actors playing Jebat — Sobry Anuar and Mohammad Shoffti Jikan — and alternates between them. While Sobry is intense, Shoffti is playful. Where Shoffti lacks in charisma, he compensates with agility. While Sobry’s reading of the character is too literal, he is able to complement that with his conviction.

Khir Rahman’s Tuah is predictable though adequate to posit a character shrouded in guilt and enigma. Sabri Yunus as Masa as usual needs only to appear for less then 10 minutes to mark his presence. But the biggest upset was the under-utilised Rahim Razali (as Bendahara). In this play, one of the finest actors on stage is relegated to a supporting part. But Rahim being Rahim, even his non-presence is severely felt. That alone is a good reason to catch up with the play.

I am not going to reveal the secret just yet, the play is still being staged at the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) Auditorium. But let me assure you the culprit is not one of the usual suspects. Certainly, there are many ways of looking at the Tuah-Jebat saga.

After all, the warrior who actually committed the act of derhaka (treason) differs in two major Malay sources. In Hikayat Hang Tuah, Jebat was the one, in Sejarah Melayu, one of the most reliable Malay historiographies, it was Hang Kasturi.

Within the Malay political construct, Tuah had always been the good guy, the panglima (warrior) whose loyalty to the sultan (king) was unbelievable. He was even willing to jump into a cesspool to save the king’s horse. Back in the early ’60s, Kassim Ahmad came out with a new "reading" of the saga. Jebat was the hero. He was the common man, the indefatigable fighter for justice and fairness and more importantly he died for "the cause". Imagine him going against his own king for he could not accept the fact that Tuah, his "brother" and close friend, was killed because of court politics. According to legend, Tuah was banished to Ulu Melaka by the wise Bendahara who believed in his innocence. Tuah was brought back to kill the rampaging Jebat. Like a good soldier Tuah did just that, without remorse.

Kassim’s interpretation of Jebat created quite a commotion. In an era when leftist literature was the in thing and leftist thinking trendy, Tuah posited a different concept of a hero in a new Malay society.

Jebat became the symbol of revolutionary thinking and critical readjustment. Suddenly, everyone wanted to be Jebat. Tuah lost his lustre and relevance. Jebat, who was for so long condemned as the traitor, suddenly attained cult status.

He was celebrated in Usman Awang’s Matinya Seorang Pahlawan, Dinsman’s Jebat and my very own Kotaku Oh Kotaku.

Some would argue U-Wei’s stage play is a "re-reading" of the Tuah-Jebat epic (again?). No, it is not revisionist history, just an epistemic shift in telling the legend. It is not one of those interpretations that will endear the loyalists and purists.

The play, staged in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of DBP, assembled talents from the Republic of Ireland, Australia, United Kingdom, Singapore and Malaysia. Produced by LeBrocquy Fraser, it is U-Wei’s much needed break from movie-making. He is better known as director of such films as Perempuan, Isteri dan..., Kaki Bakar and Joghro.

I have no problem with U-Wei’s retelling of the story, though. And how he placed Dang Wangi at the epicentre of the conflict. Remember, no one actually knew what happened when Tuah was allowed into the istana to confront Jebat. Whether Wangi was the witness when the two close friends fought to their last breath is an issue worth the attention. Or did they fight at all? Or did they engage in a discourse on righteousness or political correctness?

To begin with, Wangi Jadi Saksi is a hard sell. It is wordy, tough and demanding. It is at times moody, even vague. It is one of those Ibsenian constructs where you need to peel the onion to get to the core. Perhaps the central thesis in U-Wei’s interpretation is estrangement. It is about a man’s helplessness before the overpowering forces of circumstance.

Jebat is doomed from the start. He was fighting against the system. As he was reminded by Tuah, if the system fails, all hell will break loose. And the Malays will cease to exist (thus the famous phrase attributed to Tuah, "Tidak Melayu hilang di dunia."

Theatre is full of surprises. Theatre as it is does not reflect reality in the sense of fidelity to common everyday experience. Theatre is supposed to challenge the mind. In a way, like literature, theatre allows the "abstruseness" of the art to prevail. So, please bear with U-Wei for trying to play with words, to confront us with the abyss of our curiosity and ignorance and to remind us of his character’s impotent degradation. U-Wei did not have to get into Jacques Derrida’s idea of "notorious word- drunkenness" to achieve his aim. The story is self-telling, the words merely a vehicle. But words are powerful in Wangi Jadi Saksi — one needs a fine comb to meander through its meaning, nuances and innuendoes.

Just take a look at Pateh. Listening to him giving lessons on commerce, politics and politicking makes us sit up and listen. This guy is clever. He’s sly and mean, but he is the man of the day. The truth is I have never seen a more astute, dazzling and oily Pateh in my life. And Khalid Salleh, who plays him, elevates the character to a point where every scene becomes a feverish spectacle of style and emotion.

I have no complaint about Vanidah Imran, one of the most talented actresses today. Perhaps the stage is too big for her. She is a rookie trying to position her talent in a role too demanding for her. She is good, no doubt. At times she’s the tortured soul unbearably burdened by guilt and pleasure. The stage’s leisurely, sensuously voluptuous atmosphere keeps her busy moving around, but rarely with the conviction expected of the character. In this play, her flaws should not be exaggerated. Not many living actresses would be able to handle the challenge. She should not be faulted for trying hard.

U-Wei experiments with two actors playing Jebat — Sobry Anuar and Mohammad Shoffti Jikan — and alternates between them. While Sobry is intense, Shoffti is playful. Where Shoffti lacks in charisma, he compensates with agility. While Sobry’s reading of the character is too literal, he is able to complement that with his conviction.

Khir Rahman’s Tuah is predictable though adequate to posit a character shrouded in guilt and enigma. Sabri Yunus as Masa as usual needs only to appear for less then 10 minutes to mark his presence. But the biggest upset was the under-utilised Rahim Razali (as Bendahara).

In this play, one of the finest actors on stage is relegated to a supporting part. But Rahim being Rahim, even his non-presence is severely felt. That alone is a good reason to catch up with the play.


Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]



Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home

Archives

November 2004   February 2005   March 2005   April 2005   May 2005   June 2005   July 2005   August 2005   September 2005   October 2005   November 2005   December 2005   January 2006   February 2006   March 2006   April 2006   May 2006   June 2006   July 2006   August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   November 2006   December 2006   January 2007   February 2007   March 2007   April 2007   May 2007   July 2007   November 2007   January 2008  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]

 

 

 

 
shahnon.com © 2002 - 2009