Sitora Harimau Jadian Novelisation Comes Back from the Dead
Monday, 7th May, 2012 Comments Off
When I discovered that Amir Muhammad was going to republish the novelisation of P. Ramlee’s ‘lost’ film, I squealed like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert. I have absolutely no idea what Sitora Harimau Jadian (Sitora the Weretiger) was about. Oh, the title made it obvious enough what it was about but I didn’t know how the story played out. You see, no one today has come out and say, “Hey, I remember watching that!” and you can’t watch it on DVD or YouTube because no one can get their hands on a copy of the film. Perhaps it was due to neglect or maybe the studio ordered every copy destroyed (it was said that when the studio bosses sat for a screening, they stood up and walked out after only watching a few minutes of it) but Sitora is the proverbial Holy Grail of Malay cinema (yes, I realise the irony of pairing ‘Holy Grail’ and ‘Malay’ in a sentence. Shut up).
Therefore it is understandable why Sitora‘s novelisation, which itself had fallen into obscurity, was able to elicit such excitement from me. If the film itself is gone for good then reading about it would be the next best thing. And indeed it was. Without the reportedly cheap visual effects to prejudice one’s feelings about it, the prose version of Sitora proved to be a not-so-bad stab by P. Ramlee at the horror genre. And as stated by the blog, Mamuvies, the lack of audiovisuals would also help the reader appreciate the social commentary of Sitora and it’s not a P. Ramlee movie if it didn’t have any social commentaries, right? Also that particular style of language that was common in the films of the era and which I personally find amusing because I’m weird appears in the book verbatim. That’s not a complain. On the contrary, after reading the other FIXI novels it is refreshing to be reading flowery-theatrical-who-speaks-like-that-in-real-life Malay once again.
I bought this book online from FIXI’s website but it should be available at book-stores soon if it’s not there already.
The story of how Amir Muhammad came across an old copy of Sitora Harimau Jadian which prompted him to make it available for a new generation of readers is interesting in itself (which can be read in his blog here).