This Malay ‘macha’ is a unity icon

KLANG: As a child, Zubir Khan, a boy of Pakistani-Malay parentage, had many Indian and Chinese friends in the oil palm estate in Sepang where he grew up.

Everyone in the estate spoke Tamil and mingled without any racial barriers, says Zubir, who stays in Semenyih with his family.

 His mastery of Tamil is taking Zubir places now – and turning him into an icon for national unity.

The 24-year-old singer is taking social media by storm with his original Tamil songs which are a big hit with the Malays and Indians.

Last year, he released his single Macha Macha Nee Ennoda Macha which has become a huge hit, garnering 3.5 million views on YouTube in just over five months.

Zubir, who writes the lyrics for all his songs, has released several numbers on social media since 2019 but this is his biggest hit, with Malays and Indians singing along and gyrating to the song.

Why Tamil songs?

“I have an interest in Tamil music and I am a big fan of Indian composer Anirudh and I thought, since I am fluent in Tamil, why not?

(Multi-award winner Anirudh’s maiden composition Why This Kolaveri Di? written and sung by South Indian movie star Danush, was a global sensation upon release in 2012.)

“I wrote the Macha Macha song as a dedication to my friends. Initially there were only Indian fans, but when the video of me performing the number was posted on TikTok, it gathered Malay fans as well,’’ said Zubir.

The catchy music for Macha Macha Nee Ennoda Macha was composed by a multi-instrumentalist duo that calls itself Music Kitchen.

‘Macha’ is Tamil for brother-in-law, but is used as an term of affection among friends.

Another factor that catches viewers’ attention is Zubir’s right hand, which is missing slightly below the elbow.

“I was not born disabled but when I was four, I put my hands into an industrial dough mixer in my father’s bakery and it was severed,’’ said Zubir who is the youngest among five siblings.

Zubir added that when he first started performing, he used to have a sling bag over his right shoulder and would slip his handinto it.

“But I eventually became confident and realised that the missing part of my hand did not in any way affect my career as a singer and musician,’’ said Zubir who has since discarded the sling bag.

Zubir has just released another single, Oh My Kadhale (Oh My Love), a Tamil-Malay mash-up which he co-wrote and sang with another local talent Ezra Kairo.

Oh My Kadhale, also known as OMK, is reflective of Malaysia’s true identity as it comprises Zubir and Ezra, a Indian-Muslim, while the music is composed by Mingaling, who is a Chinese.

“Ezra starts the song with Malay lyrics and I come in with the Tamil lyrics and later into the song, he sings a little in Tamil and I do a little in Malay,’’ said Zubir.

The OMK video has garnered almost 300,000 hits less than a week after its debut.

Asked if he would seek out a recording deal with any of the major recording labels, Zubir said:

“I will continue singing and coming up with more songs and if there is a number that I think requires representation by a recording company, then maybe I will look into it.’’

> Heartwarming tales such as this are promoted and encouraged by the “Maaf Zahir Batin Hari-Hari” campaign (#MZB365), which was launched on April 6. The campaign stands strong with support from major media organisations and civil society organisations.

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zubir khan , national unity , tamil songs


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