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The Beginning of Neo-Realist Imaginings in Malaysian Cinema: A Critical Appraisal of Malay Modernity and Representation of Malayness in Rahim Razali's Films

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The following article is an attempt to position Rahim Razali's films in the context of the evolution of the new Malaysian cinema since the heydays of P. Ramlee. It is argued that his works usher into Malaysian cinema a new phase — the beginning of neo-realist imaginings on the question of Malay identity in post-colonial Malaysia. Rahim's films remain the earliest critical commentaries on the culture and values of the new Malay corporate class, whose emergence followed closely the Mahathir-led 'Malay modernization' project of the New Economic Policy. By way of utilizing Rahim Razali's films as an 'ethnography' on the 'New Malay' (and combined with narratives based on the author's interview with the film maker), the essay critically examines Rahim's portrayal of Malay modernity and his representation of Malayness in both the urban and rural culturalscape of a transforming nation-state.

Affiliations: 1: Institute of Malay World and Civilization (ATMA), University Kebangsaan Malaysia


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