Tan Sri Datuk Amar Teuku Zakaria bin Teuku Nyak Puteh (later Ramlee bin Puteh) (22 March 1929 – 29 May 1973), better known by his stage name P. Ramlee (Puteh Ramlee),[1] was a Malaysian actor, filmmaker, musician, and composer famous in both modern-day Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Southern Thailand.[2] Due to his contributions to the film and music industry and his literary work, which began with his acting debut in Singapore in 1948, to the height of his career and then later in Malaysia in 1964 to his decline and death, he is regarded as a prominent icon of Malay entertainment. His popularity has reached as far as Brunei, Indonesia, as well as in Hong Kong and Japan.

P. Ramlee

ڤي رملي
Tan Sri P. Ramlee.jpeg
P. Ramlee at the 19th Asia-Pacific Film Festival, 1973
Teuku Zakaria bin Teuku Nyak Puteh

(1929-03-22)22 March 1929
Died29 May 1973(1973-05-29) (aged 44)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Resting placeJalan Ampang Muslim Cemetery, Kuala Lumpur
MonumentsP. Ramlee Memorial
Other namesRamlee Puteh
  • Sekolah Melayu Kampung Jawa
  • Francis Light English School (1939–1941)
  • Japanese Navy School (Kaigun Gakko)
  • Penang Free School (1945–1947)
  • Actor
  • singer
  • musician
  • filmmaker
  • composer
Years active1945–1973
Notable work
Junaidah Daeng Harris
(m. 1950; div. 1955)
Noorizan Mohd. Noor
(m. 1955; div. 1961)
(m. 1961)
Children7 (including Nasir)
Musical career
  • singer
  • actor
  • percussion
  • saxophone
  • accordion
  • trumpet
  • piano
  • guitar
  • viola
  • ukulele
P. Ramlee's Autograph.jpg

Early lifeEdit

Ramlee was born on 22 March 1929 to Teuku Nyak Puteh Bin Teuku Karim (1902–1955) and Che Mah Binti Hussein (1904–1967). His father, Teuku Nyak Puteh, who was a descendant of a wealthy family in Aceh, migrated from Lhokseumawe in Aceh, (present day Indonesia) to settle in Penang, where he married Ramlee’s mother, who hailed from Kubang Buaya, Butterworth.

Ramlee received his education from the Sekolah Melayu Kampung Jawa (Kampung Jawa Malay School), Francis Light English School and then to Penang Free School; in all he was registered as "Ramlee" by his father, because his name Teuku Zakaria was not suitable with other children at that time. Reportedly a reluctant and naughty student, Ramlee was nevertheless talented and interested in music and football. His studies at the Penang Free School were interrupted by the Japanese occupation from 1942 to 1945, during which he enrolled in the Japanese navy school (Kaigun Gakko). He also learnt the basics of music and to sing Japanese songs during this period with his teacher, Hirahe-san. When the war ended, he took music lessons that enabled him to read musical notations.[3]


He abbreviated his name to P. Ramlee (Puteh Ramlee), taking inspiration from the Tamil patronymic naming conventions, where the initial stood for his father's name (Puteh) and was followed by his given name (Ramlee).[4]


P. Ramlee and Kasma Booty, 1955

By 1948, the 19 year-old Ramlee had already won a number of singing competitions, and was writing his own songs and playing the violin in a kroncong band.[5] That year, B. S. Rajhans, a film director for the Malay Film Productions (MFP) came across P. Ramlee at a singing competition hosted by Radio Malaya in Bukit Mertajam, Penang. Rajhans placed Ramlee in a supporting role in his film Chinta ("Love"), in which he played a villain, and he also performed five songs as a playback singer providing vocals for the lead actor Roomai Noor [ms].[6][7]

In 1950, Ramlee played his first major role in the film directed by L. Krishnan [ms], Bakti ("Devotion").[8] In Bakti, he was the first actor to sing in his own voice instead of relying on playback singer.[7] In the following films, such as Juwita in 1951 and Ibu ("Mother") in 1953, he became established as a major star of the Malay film industry.[9] Between 1948 and 1955, he starred in a total of 27 films.

Aside from acting, Ramlee was a prolific songwriter, and around 500 of his songs have been recorded, either by himself or by other artists.[10] Ramlee himself recorded 359 songs for his films and records.[5] Among his best known songs are "Getaran Jiwa [ms]", "Dendang Perantau [ms]", "Engkau Laksana Bulan", "Joget Pahang [ms]", "Tudung Periok", "Di Mana Kan Ku Cari Ganti [ms]" and "Azizah".[10] The songs Ramlee wrote were featured in his films, performed by Ramlee himself or by other artists. In Hang Tuah which was directed by B.N. Rao [ms], Ramlee won best musical score at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival.[11]

P. Ramlee started directing feature films in 1955, the first of which was Penarek Becha [ms] ("Trishaw Man"), which was praised as the best Malay film of the year. Ramlee wrote the screenplay for the film based on a story by Lu Xun. He also directed and starred in the Bujang Lapok comedy series.[12] One of these, Pendekar Bujang Lapok, won the Best Comedy award at the Asia-Pacific Film Festival.[11] He also won the Best Actor award for Anak-ku Sazali at the festival.[13] Other significant films he directed for MFP include Antara Dua Darjat, Ibu Mertua-ku and Tiga Abdul.

Portrait of P. Ramlee

Ramlee's career at the Malay Film Productions between 1955 and 1964 was considered his "golden age" when he made his most critically acclaimed films and wrote his best-remembered songs. In 1964, he left Singapore for Kuala Lumpur to make films with Merdeka Film Productions, however, he was less successful there.[14] He made 18 films with Merdeka, and his last film was Laksamana Do Re Mi. His last song was "Ayer Mata di Kuala Lumpur" ("Tears in Kuala Lumpur") intended for a film of the same name before he died in 1973. In all, Ramlee starred in 62 films and directed 33.[5]

Death and legacyEdit

P. Ramlee's gravesite at Jalan Ampang Muslim Cemetery, Kuala Lumpur.

Before dawn of 29 May 1973, P. Ramlee died at the age of 44 from a heart attack and was buried at Jalan Ampang Muslim Cemetery, in Kuala Lumpur.[15]

In 1986, 13 years after his death, in honour of his contributions to the Malaysian entertainment industry, the P. Ramlee Memorial or Pustaka Peringatan P. Ramlee was built in his home in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur. In 1982, the street Jalan Parry, in the center of Kuala Lumpur, was renamed Jalan P. Ramlee in his honour. In 1990, he was posthumously awarded the Malaysian honorific title Tan Sri, and then in 2009, the honorific title of "Datuk Amar" by Sarawak State Government. Then Chief Minister of Sarawak, Abdul Taib Mahmud, an avid fan of Ramlee, presented the award to his adopted daughter, Dian P. Ramlee, in a ceremony honouring veteran artists in Kuching.[16]

The P. Ramlee House is a museum situated along Jalan P. Ramlee (formerly Caunter Hall road) in Penang, Malaysia. The building is a restored wooden house that was originally built in 1926 by his father and uncle. The house had previously undergone multiple repairs before being taken over by the National Archives as an extension of its P. Ramlee Memorial project in Kuala Lumpur. Items on display at the house include personal memorabilia related to his life in Penang and items belonging to his family.[citation needed]

On 22 March 2017; his 88th birthday, Google honored P. Ramlee with a Doodle on the Malaysian Google homepage.[17][18]

In 2021, Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) honoured him with their limited-time menu, the Burger P. Ramlee — a combination between KFC Zinger and P. Ramlee's favourite dish, the Nasi Kandar where it is available in four combos — À'la Carte, Kombo, Set Legenda and Kombo Ikon.[19][20]


P. Ramlee was involved in many aspects of his films: as scriptwriter, director, actor as well as music composer and singer. He was involved in 62 films throughout his career as an actor, as well as a number of other films in other capacities.


Entities named after P. RamleeEdit

P. Ramlee Street in Kuala Lumpur

Various places are named after Ramlee

  • Jalan P. Ramlee, Penang[24] (formerly known as Caunter Hall; renamed on 30 August 1983)[24][25]
  • Jalan P. Ramlee, Kuala Lumpur[26] (formerly known as Jalan Parry; renamed in 1982)
  • Bangunan P. Ramlee and Bilik Mesyuarat Tan Sri P. Ramlee at Sekolah Kebangsaan Hulu Klang, Selangor (used as background in Masam Masam Manis)
  • Jalan P. Ramlee, Kuching, Sarawak[27] (formerly known as Jalan Jawa)
  • Taman P. Ramlee (formerly Taman Furlong)[28] a townships at Setapak, Kuala Lumpur and George Town, Penang
  • Pawagam Mini P. Ramlee at Studio Merdeka, FINAS, Ulu Klang, Selangor
  • Makmal P.Ramlee at Filem Negara Malaysia, Petaling Jaya, Selangor
  • P. Ramlee Auditorium[29] (formerly known as RTM Auditorium), Angkasapuri
  • SK Tan Sri P. Ramlee, Georgetown, Penang[30] (formerly SK Kampung Jawa, his alma mater; renamed on 13 November 2011)
  • Ramlee Mall at Suria KLCC shopping centre, Kuala Lumpur
  • Bukit Nanas Monorail station, Kuala Lumpur, formerly known as P. Ramlee Monorail station
  • Auditorium P. Ramlee, RTM Kuching, Sarawak[31]


  1. ^ Murtado, Ali (22 March 2019). "P. Ramlee: Seniman Jenius Keturunan Indonesia yang Terpinggirkan". kumparan (in Indonesian). Retrieved 30 March 2021. Mungkin sedikit yang tahu, jika huruf P di depan nama P. Ramlee adalah singkatan dari 'Puteh'. [Maybe only a few people know that the letter P in front of the name P. Ramlee stands for 'Puteh'.]{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ Alyssa Lee (21 August 2018). "Icon for the ages, P. Ramlee". Buro247. Retrieved 1 June 2020.
  3. ^ Zaedi Zolkafli (2011). Koleksi P. Ramlee. Felix Entertainment. p. 14. ISBN 978-967-10012-0-2.
  4. ^ Fuller, Thomas; Tribune, International Herald (17 July 1998). "Creating a Hero:Malaysia's Unlikely Icon". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 3 June 2022.
  5. ^ a b c Adil Johan (2018). Cosmopolitan Intimacies. NUS Press. pp. 20–21. ISBN 9789814722636 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Poshek Fu, ed. (2019). China Forever: The Shaw Brothers and Diasporic Cinema. University of Illinois Press. p. 158. ISBN 9780252075001 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ a b "Malay Film Productions". Shaw Organisation.
  8. ^ Van der Heide, William (2014). Malaysian Cinema, Asian Film. Amsterdam University Press. p. 133–134. ISBN 9781783203611 – via Google Books.
  9. ^ Poshek Fu, ed. (2019). China Forever: The Shaw Brothers and Diasporic Cinema. University of Illinois Press. p. 159. ISBN 9780252075001 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ a b Craig A. Lockard (1998). Dance of Life: Popular Music and Politics in Southeast Asia. University of Hawai'i Press. pp. 218–220. ISBN 978-0824819187.
  11. ^ a b Gaik Cheng, Khoo (2011). Reclaiming Adat: Contemporary Malaysian Film and Literature. UBC Press. p. 91. ISBN 9780774841443 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ Kwa Chong Guan, Kua Bak Lim, ed. (2019). A General History Of The Chinese In Singapore. World Scientific Publishing Company. p. 621. ISBN 9789813277656 – via Google Books.
  13. ^ Tan, K.H. (9 December 1988). "Screen legend lives on". The Straits Times. Singapore. Retrieved 6 April 2022.
  14. ^ Lockard, Craig (1998). Dance of Life: Popular Music and Politics in Southeast Asia. University of Hawaii Press. p. 220. ISBN 9780824862114 – via Google Books.
  15. ^ "Malay movie idol Ramlee dies after heart attack". The Straits Times. 30 May 2010. p. 17. Retrieved 17 August 2018.
  16. ^ "Taib receives prestigious Perdana Seniman Agung P Ramlee Award | my Sarawak - News coverage around Sarawak, Sabah and Malaysia". Archived from the original on 15 April 2013. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  17. ^ "P. Ramlee's 88th birthday". Google Doodle. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  18. ^ "Google Doodle honours arts legend P. Ramlee on 88th birthday". Today Online. 22 March 2017. Retrieved 17 August 2017.
  19. ^ Mohd Zaky Zainudin (27 October 2021). "KFC perkenal Burger P. Ramlee". Berita Harian. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  20. ^ "KFC perkenalkan Burger P. Ramlee". Bisnes HM. Harian Metro. 26 October 2021. Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  21. ^ a b "SEMAKAN PENERIMA DARJAH KEBESARAN, BINTANG DAN PINGAT". Prime Minister's Department (Malaysia). Archived from the original on 29 September 2018. Retrieved 22 March 2022.
  22. ^ "P. Ramlee | Infopedia". Eresources.nlb.gov.sg. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  23. ^ "PressReader.com – Connecting People Through News". Pressreader.com. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  24. ^ a b "P. Ramlee | Infopedia". eresources.nlb.gov.sg. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  25. ^ IBRAHIM, NIK KHUSAIRI. "Humble house where a star was born". The Star. Retrieved 3 November 2021.
  26. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  27. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  28. ^ "Taman P Ramlee, Setapak – Propwall". Propwall.my. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  29. ^ "Google Maps". Google Maps. Retrieved 11 June 2017.
  30. ^ "SK TAN SRI P.RAMLEE PULAU PINANG | TEL: 042268841". Sktansripramlee.edu.my. Archived from the original on 4 October 2016. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
  31. ^ "Auditorium P. Ramlee". Retrieved 17 August 2018.

External linksEdit