Malaysian cinema can be said pretty young, even after a span of over 75 years. Or in exact terms, entertainment in the form of cinema has never attained real heights in Malaysia. Dating back to the 1930's, it's just about a small film industry that turns out around 15 feature films and 300-400 television dramas every year. Across the country, there are approximately 250 movie theatres and multiplexes that show local films and foreign films as well. Over and above, National Film Festival observed by the country marks a highlight.
The screening of Laila Majnun, a conventional Persian love story,
initiated the Malay cinema in 1933. Produced by Singapore-based Motilal
Chemical Company and directed by B.S. Rajhans, the film was appreciated
by the Malaysians and enthused by its success, Run Run and Run Me Shaw -
two brothers, established a film company at Ampas Road in Singapore.
Together, they brought into being 5-6 Malay films prior to the Japanese
invasion in 1941. Subsequent to the Second World War, film-making
started once again in Malaysia with Singapura Di Waktu Malam, produced
by Shaw Brothers.
After its instant success, Shaw Brothers were stirred to make many new
films. Following their success, Malay Film Productions encouraged other
people to come up and enter the industry. In 1951, Hsu Chiu started
Nusantara Film Company while Rimau Film Productions was established by
Ho Ah Loke in the next year. Later in the year 1956, Rimau Film
Productions combined with Cathay Organization and was called Keris Film
Productions. Soon after, Keris Film Productions turned out numerous
films and emerged as a tough competitor to Shaw Brothers.
In the early years, films were generally black and white, and were
processed in studios outfitted with recording and editing facilities in
Malaysia. Usually, the films' scripts were based on stage plays, folk
tales, historical events and stories of fictional or real heroes.
Afterwards, Malaysia cinema welcomed the color films when Hang Tuah
appeared in Eastman Color, directed by Indian director Phani Majumder.
Then, Shaw Brothers and Keris Film Productions also produced color films
such as, Ribut, Berisong, Buluh Perindu and several others.
Notwithstanding advancement, Malay Film Industry experienced a fall with
film companies wrapping up owing to the huge production costs and steep
decline in audience. In 1981, the National Film Development Corporation
of Malaysia was established which improved the Malaysian cinema. The
main intention of the corporation was to enhance the quality of films by
supporting them, both technically and financially. Its aim was also to
encourage young capable directors for film-making.
Since the corporation's establishment, Malay cinema has got improved to
an extent and over 300 film companies are now working for the industry.
Initiation of television shows marked another noteworthy expansion that
further enhanced the morale and self-confidence of the local film makers