From ‘reel’ cop to real lawman, all thanks to P. Ramlee

Gratitude in reflection: Retired police corporal Arifin Taib showing old pictures of himself at the set of movies with the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee at his house in Johor Baru.

JOHOR BARU: He was once a movie extra in a P. Ramlee film, playing a cop, when the renowned actor and director suggested that the extra become a real policeman.

Arifin Taib said he was an extra in the movie Anak Bapak when the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee remarked that he would make a good policeman.

“I was acting as a policeman. I will never forget his words that I would make a really good real policeman.

“That had never crossed my mind as I was still young then and wanted to make acting a career,” recalled Arifin, 75.

“But P. Ramlee’s words came true when I became a policeman at the age of 23.”

Joining the police force where he served for 33 years, was not a deterrent for Arifin who had caught the acting bug by then.

His venture into acting started in 1967 when he was just 21 years old.

“I had found out that P. Ramlee wanted to use many extras for his upcoming movie but I did not know what kind of movie he was planning to shoot.

“So I went to Merdeka Studio in Ulu Klang with my brother and four friends from Setapak where we boarded a bus and paid 15 sen for the bus fare,” he said.

When they reached the studio, they met a man who brought them to meet the great P. Ramlee.

He said that all of them were very excited and nervous to see P. Ramlee appearing right before their eyes. Prior to this, they had only seen the man on the silver screen.

“P. Ramlee immediately brought us under his wings and taught us to act naturally as we did not have any dialogue in our parts.

“Our role was to play mahjong in one of the scenes for Keluarga 69. Each of us got paid RM7 just for a few minutes, which was good money at the time,” he added.

Arifin’s debut in Keluarga 69, which also starred many great actors like A.R. Tompel, led to multiple roles in other movies.

Among them were Anak Bapak, Enam Jahanam, Panglima Harimau Berantai, Kanchan Tirana, Laksamana Do Re Mi, Tunggal, Lain Jalan Ka-Shorga and Pendekar Empat.

Arifin said that he would never forget the experience he had while shooting a scene for Enam Jahanam, which took place inside a cave in Batu Caves.

“We were in the midst of preparing to shoot the scene when the May 13 riots took place. To ensure the safety of his crew and actors, P. Ramlee decided to stop shooting and told everyone to go back home, accompanied by security,” he recounted.

Arifin said that the last movie he acted in was Laksamana Do Re Mi where he got paid RM15 – the highest payment he ever received.

At the time, he had just become a police personnel. So he had to apply for two weeks’ leave from his superiors.

“They approved my leave and I worked at the set with P. Ramlee for the last time. I will always cherish these good memories,” said the father of five, who retired from the police force in 2002 as a corporal.

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