A Tribute To Yasmin

A Tribute To Yasmin

YASMIN AHMAD (1958-2009)

The first time I met her, she was dressed in a modest cream coloured baju kurung, a bright smile on her face and an absolute glow of happiness surrounding her. It didn't matter that the critics in the main stream film fraternity were tearing her film apart or that the censorship board had wanted to snip her film to pieces – none of that stopped that glowing smile which was so Yasmin. She had agreed to give us (Cinema Online writers) a private screening of her movie "Sepet" that day, along with an interview which was to be featured in the February 2005 issue of Cinema Online magazine. I came away from that meeting with the sure knowledge that this woman is my new hero.

If there was one thing about Yasmin which I have always been impressed about it was her enthusiasm and her passion for life. You don't need to be part of her inner circle or even a close friend to be able to see and recognise this quality in her. She grins, she hugs people, kisses them on the cheeks, greets everyone with the same kind of joyful tune and most importantly she smiled, that glorious, glorious heart warming smile which lights up her entire face and simply demands a response from you. I felt that it was almost as though she wanted to paint the entire world with rainbows and sunshine.

That didn't mean she lived her life in the clouds. Rather she was one of the most firmly grounded person I have ever met in the entertainment industry. She recognised the difficulties that life presents but never used it as an excuse to defeat her in her work. She defines what it means to be a fiercely proud and loyal Malaysian. She saw the country for what it is – a wonderful melting pot of people, where different races and different beliefs could co-exist in mutual respect. Where love for the humanity in all of us as the people of one nation could transcend the differences in our skin colour and our traditions. On the other hand she also saw the problems that existed as well yet what made her work so memorable, so beautiful, was the fact that she always chose to show us that love can and DOES break barriers and overcome problems.

Yasmin Ahmad at the premiere for her last movie "Talentime"
I left the country three years ago to continue my studies in South Korea, yet even there I continued to read news of Yasmin's work. I watched "Mukhsin" when it was screened in South Korea and talked to eager fans who said they were simply blown away by the honesty and simplicity of the movie. When I returned to the country last March due to the break between my degree and my master's program, I was asked if I could do a freelance assignment to cover the media screening and press conference of her last movie "Talentime". It was an assignment that I took up eagerly.

"Sepet" in 2005 brought Yasmin's moviemaking prowess to the forefront of the nation's attention
I had thought that she would not remember me; after all, we had not met for well over three years by then. Imagine my surprise when not only did she recognise me, she also called me by name – hugging me and asking how I was and what was I doing now. I remember asking her a lot of questions during the press conference just because I love the way she handles them – answering the questions with the type of conviction that only a person who completely believes in her work could have. And throughout it all, she smiled.

It made me proud to have been able to know her. Cherished are those short moments I have spent talking to her every time we met at an event or a screening. She was an inspiration for the simple fact that in this cold cynical world she worked so hard to bring just that little more love for everyone through her films and through her advertisements.

She has been taken from us far too soon and like so many others I feel the lost not only for the amazing individual that she is but for the love she chose to give so unselfishly to the world. Her works are a testimony to that love and the fact that we will have no more of them is a loss of considerable proportion. I will miss her and I will miss her smile.

Kak Min – you are, and forever will be, my hero. May Allah bless your soul.


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