Runme Shaw and Run Run Shaw (born Shio) originated from Shanghai, China.
The Shaw brothers started exhibiting foreign films around Southeast Asia in 1937 before building the Singapore studio facilities in 1940.
They first hired film directors Hou Yao and Miss Wan Hoi-ling from China to make seven Malay films - 'Mutiara' (1940), 'Bermadu' (1940), 'Toping Saitan' (1941), 'Hanchor Hati' (1941), 'Ibu Tiri' (1941), 'Terang Bulan Di Malaya' (1941) and 'Tiga Kekaseh' (1947).
Production of 'Toping Hitam' and 'Mata Hantu' were interrupted because of World War II.
The early studio was confiscated during Japanese occupation.
After the end of World War II in 1945,
the Shaw brothers spent $1,000,000 to rebuild the studio facilities.
The new film studio was named Malay Film Productions.
It was located at No. 8 Jalan Ampas, Off Balestier Road, Singapore.
Malay Film Productions made its first post war film called
'Singapura Di Waktu Malam' / 'Singapore By Night' (1947).
A comedy drama directed by B S Rajhans and featured Siput Sarawak.
The film premiered at Alhambra cinema in Singapore on 15 November 1947.
Alhambra cinema, Singapore
Following the success of B S Rajhans, the Shaw Brothers hired oher Indian film
directors namely L Krishnan, S Ramanathan, K M Basker, B N Rao, V Girimaji,
K R S Shastry, Phani Majumdar, Kidar Sharma and Dhiresh Ghosh.
Jalan Ampas studio personnel comprised of Chinese, Malays and Indians
such as Shaw Vee Ngok (studio manager), Kwek Chip Jian (production manager),
R C Purushotam and Abu Bakar Ali (cameramen), Chou Cheng Kok (laboratory manager),
A V Bapat (make-up artist and art director), Mustafa Yassin (art director), H R Narayana
and Hayat Harris (film editor), Kam Sim Boon (sound engineer), Yap Poh Kai
and Kamal Mustafa (audiography), Yusof B and Osman Ahmad (music directors).
The Shaw Organisation had established a chain of cinemas and film distributorships.
By 1959, there was over 150 cinemas in Singapore, Malaya, Indonesia, Borneo and Bangkok.
It had entertainment parks, dancing halls, printing facilities and production studio.
Shaw Organisation added a new film studio in Ulu Klang outside Kuala Lumpur.
The Merdeka Film Productions' facilities were opened in 1961.
Malay Film Productions' most valuable artist was P Ramlee.
B S Rajhans spotted the young man during a song performance in Penang, Malaya.
In August 1948 P Ramlee was recruited as playback singer.
He later acted in 42 films and directed 16 films produced by Malay Film Productions.
Last film he made at Jalan Ampas studio was 'Tiga Abdul' / 'Three Abduls' (1964).
P Ramlee returned to Malaysia in April 1964 to join Merdeka Film Productions.
Malay Film Productions Ltd lasted for twenty years after its first film in 1947.
Main factors that led to the failure of Malay film industry beginning late 60s:
1. Coming of black and white television as an alternative entertainment.
2. Influx of foreign color films from Indonesia, Hong Kong and Hollywood.
3. P Ramlee's departure from Jalan Ampas to join Merdeka Film Productions
reduced Singapore's role as a film center.
The Jalan Ampas studio stopped production in 1967.
During its glory days the Malay Film Productions produced a total of 159 films.
Last film released was 'Raja Bersiong' (1968) directed by Jamil Sulong.
On 29 May 1973 P Ramlee died from heart attack at the age of 44.
Merdeka Film Productions became inactive after it released 'Locheng Maut' / 'Death Bell' (1977).
The Ulu Klang studio was eventually closed a few years later.
Last film made was 'Adik Manja' (1980).
The studio was bought over by Perbadanan Filem Nasional (Finas) in 1985.