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Film InformationEdit

Original Title

Seruan Merdeka

Romanized Title

Call of Freedom

Director

BS Rajhans

Producer

Malayan Arts Production

Cast List

Salleh Ghani, Bachtiar Effendi, Rokiah Hanaffi, Johar, Siti Tanjung Perak

Crew Credits

Year of Release

1946

Country of Production

Singapore/Malaysia

Language

Malay

Colour

B&W

Runtime

Synopsis

Keywords

World War II, underground movement, independence

Screening History

Queens Theatre

HistoryEdit

Seruan Merdeka was the first film to be made after the end of World War II in Singapore and Malaysia. It was independently made by Indian filmmaking veteran BS Rajhans, who also directed the first Malay film Leila Majnun and the last local film made before the war, Menantu Derhaka. It was the only film produced by Malayan Art Productions, a company floated by a local Indian businessman after the war to counter the deep-seated Japanese propagation of the Malay culture.

The film was commercially unsuccessful because it was only screened on a closed-door policy by entertainment giants Shaw and Cathay, as was the practice then for films that were not made by their own studios. Thus, few people knew of Seruan Merdeka's existence and the film soon faded into obscurity like many other independent film endeavours of the period.

SignificanceEdit

The first political film to come out of Singapore, Seruan Merdeka captured the sense of post-war idealism abounding even as the British returned to Singapore rule. It was also the first film of Sino-Malay characteristic, showing Malay and Chinese youths fighting side by side in an underground movement to overthrow the invading Japanese. Up till then, Malay films had emphasized wholly Malay content, only using characters of other races for comic relief purposes. However, with a growing call for racial unity in the aftermath of the war and a shared struggle for indepedence, Seruan Merdeka showcased Malay and Chinese leads, thus setting a standard for other multicultural films of this nature to come into production.

ReferencesEdit

  1. A Cultural History of Malay Films
  2. McKay, Benjamin. (2007). Malaysian cinema at 50
  3. Muthalib, Hassan Abdullah. (2005, 27 June). Voices of Malaysian Cinema. Posted on malaysian-cinema@yahoogroups[1].
  4. Image taken from Media Representation and Records of Singapore Film

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