Nadiputra



Almahdi Al-Haj Ibrahim (b. 1946, Singapore–), better known as Nadiputra, is a playwright, director, producer and actor. He is considered by many in the Malay community as the reigning patriarch of Malay theatre.1 Nadiputra has been involved in drama for more than three decades, having written more than 200 plays for stage, radio and television, including Puncak, Malaikat, Selimut Putih and Vanda Miss Joaquim.2 He has received numerous awards for his plays, including the Cultural Medallion in 1986 for his contributions to theatre.3

Early life
Nadiputra was given away at birth to a ship’s captain and his wife. He had never met his biological father although they were living in the same neighbourhood in Geylang when Nadiputra was growing up. He resisted the temptation to visit his father. Neither bitter about being fostered out nor seeking the reasons, he came to accept his adopted status as it made no difference to his childhood. He had a happy childhood, and was always buoyant when he could watch films and Malay operas – his favourite past-time.4


Nadiputra was educated at Telok Kurau Primary School and Bartley Secondary School. These became the two significant grounds for cultivating his early talent in drama. He had his first taste of stage acting as early as 1958 in primary school, when he acted in a situation comedy called Professor Nincompoop. In 1962, when he was a 16-year-old student in secondary three, he had his first attempt at scriptwriting. He had been chosen to write and produce a play for the school’s drama competition. However, he forgot to write the script, and when asked to present it by his teacher two weeks later, Nadiputra suggested acting out an impromptu play instead. With the help of three friends, he put up a play based on the P. Ramlee film, Seniman Bujang Lapok. Eventually, he went on to write, produce and direct his first play, Tercecer (The Dropout), for the school drama competition. The play was voted as the school’s best production. In the same year, he also won an award for his play, Malisa, named after one of the characters.5

Scriptwriting career
Since the 1960s, Nadiputra has been a success in the creative writing field. Described as a warm, jovial, humorous yet philosophical individual, he is a prolific writer with hundreds of stage, television and radio drama scripts to his name.6 He has also used several other names such as Esje Sahar, Tun Temasik, Kelana Jingga, Mega Putih, Muhammad Zahir and Wira. All these names were a reflection of him at a given point in time. However, the name “Nadiputra”, which is based on Adiputra (mentor of Malay folk hero Hang Tuah and a symbol of wisdom), has been his permanent stage name.7

Nadiputra is no stranger to awards. His crowning moment was when he received the Cultural Medallion in 1986 for his contributions to drama. Turning to scriptwriting as a fulltime career was a move he made only in 1983 after he resigned from his job as a customs service officer to join the former Singapore Broadcasting Corporation.8 He has had an active portfolio – as president of the established Malay cultural group, Sriwana; a member of the Committee on Drama under the Advisory Council of Culture and the Arts; and a judge in school drama competitions.9

In 1993, he acted for the first time after 20 years, as Pak Seman in Singkap (Unveil), directed by Lut Ali. The play was staged in conjunction with the Festival of Asian Performing Arts.10 He acted again in 1999, in Laluan (Passage), produced by Sriwana, which was staged during the Singapore Arts Festival. It was the first Malay play to have a half-hour pre-performance tour that took the audience in batches for a behind-the-scenes look at the staging of a play.11

Nadiputra is also a firm believer and supporter of drama for the young. He formed and became the president of the first Malay children’s drama group, Teater Nadi (Children’s Drama Workshop), in 1985. In the same year, the group performed Cermin Ajaib (The Magic Mirror) in conjunction with the Young People’s Theatre Festival organised by the Ministry of Community Development.12

Nadiputra’s forte lies in scripting serious and thought-provoking dramas. He is best known for the social criticism and religious issues in his work.13 Two examples of his works that delve into religious and moral issues are Masjid Bersalib (The Mosque with a Cross) and Jembalang Tanah (Spirits of the Earth).14 Ideas for his dramas are drawn from his personal life and the happenings around him. Nadiputra believes that “reading generates new ideas while interacting with as many people as possible makes a person come to terms with realities – and this is essential in scripting”. He reads a range of books, from religious books to those on the idiosyncrasies of society. Married and divorced more than once, he has also dedicated his art to portraying matters of the heart and human relationships.15

Awards
1986:
Cultural Medallion16

2013: Anugerah Tun Seri Lanang, Majlis Bahasa Melayu Singapura17

Works
1989: Jefri and Maria, the first local Malay musical that he scripted and directed. Presented by Sriwana, it is based on a true story set in Geylang during the 1960s. The musical featured a cast of 120 actors.18
1992: Tali (Ropes), which examines topics such as the link between humanity and spiritualism.19
1995: Anak Bawean (Bawean Children), a comedy of opposed love, which he wrote and directed.20
1998: Bos, a play about a group of workers “bossing” their colleagues to go along with their ideas on how to run a company. The National Trades Union Congress had commissioned a play by Teater Kami in conjunction with the Labour Day celebrations. Teater Kami then roped in Nadiputra to write the script, and the latter was told to write a play about upgrading oneself.21
1998: Dendam Berahi (A Revenge of Passion), the first full-fledged Malay dance opera, which saw a collaboration of talents from Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Nadiputra wrote the script and composed the syair (quatrain).22
1999: Co-producer of series Watan, a first historical drama for Prime Productions, which tells the lives of the Malays during the 1920s when the majority were immigrants from various parts of Indonesia.23
2000: The Coffin, his biggest coup in stage production as he managed to persuade famous Malaysian film actor, Jins Shamsudin, to act in it. Jins was a leading man in the golden era of Malay film in the 1950s up to the ’70s.24
2004: Directed and scripted Gentarasa 2004, a two-hour semi-musical drama extravaganza presented by the People’s Association and its Malay Activity Co-ordinating Council.25



Author

Nureza Ahmad



References
1. Tuminah Sapawi. (1988, August 2). The humorous, jovial, but serious Nadi. The Straits Times, p. 5; Mutunya lebih tinggi. (1983, December 25). Berita Harian, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Kaiden, E. A. (1998, April 29). See, they’re praising the Bos once again. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Tuminah Sapawi. (1988, August 2). The humorous, jovial, but serious Nadi. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Tuminah Sapawi. (1988, August 2). The humorous, jovial, but serious Nadi. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Tuminah Sapawi. (1988, August 2). The humorous, jovial, but serious Nadi. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG
6. Tuminah Sapawi. (1988, August 2). The humorous, jovial, but serious Nadi. The Straits Times, p. 5; Kaiden, E. A. (1998, April 29). See, they’re praising the Bos once again. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Tuminah Sapawi. (1988, August 2). The humorous, jovial, but serious Nadi. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Tuminah Sapawi. (1988, August 2). The humorous, jovial, but serious Nadi. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. School plays’ standard down. (1985, May 8). The Straits Times, p. 24. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. Tuminah Sapawi. (1993, November 2). Nadiputra to act for first time in 20 years. The Straits Times, p. 20. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Tuminah Sapawi. (1999, May 22). Brother, I want to run away from home. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Tuminah Sapawi. (1988, August 2). The humorous, jovial, but serious Nadi. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Kaiden, E. A. (1998, April 29). See, they’re praising the Bos once again. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Yaakub Rashid. (1992, June 25). Roping new faces into drama. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. Tuminah Sapawi. (1988, August 2). The humorous, jovial, but serious Nadi. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Kaiden, E. A. (1998, April 29). See, they’re praising the Bos once again. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17. Selagi ada Nadi. (2013, October 14). Berita Harian. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
18. Goh, G. (1989, May 9). Scenes of 60s in first Malay musical. The New paper, p. 14. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
19. Yaakub Rashid. (1992, June 25). Roping new faces into drama. The Straits Times, p. 12. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20. Hanim Mohd Saleh. (1995, June 5). Drama penuh lelucon. Berita Harian, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
21. Kaiden, E. A. (1998, April 29). See, they’re praising the Bos once again. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
22. Tuminah Sapawi. (1998, June 9). Fighting scenes? Call silat dancer. The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
23. Tuminah Sapawi. (1999, March 26). Rasol did not live to see it. The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
24. Getting Jins Shamsudin. (2000, May 17). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
25. Tay, S. C. (2004, May 20). Raw talent, rare ability. The Straits Times, p. 15. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2013 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Language and literature>>Drama
Almahdi Al-Haj Ibrahim, 1946-
Arts>>Theatre>>Theatre direction and production
Personalities>>Biographies>>Artists>>Cultural Medallion Recipients
Dramatists, Malay--Singapore--Biography
Theatrical producers and directors--Singapore--Biography
Award winners

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