Isnin, 24 Oktober 2011

The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

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The Star Online: Entertainment: TV & Radio

Commercial laden with meaning

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 02:42 AM PDT

A simple story that revolves around cooking is this year's Deepavali commercial by Petronas.

Somewhere in a bustling market, a mother finds herself amid a colourful spread and splash of bright red tomatoes, delicate onions, meat and spices in every variety. Meanwhile, a young boy drops a coconut from atop a tree, to be grated for coconut milk with his father. It is used later by the womenfolk of the household to whip up a hearty feast that will be enjoyed by the entire family.

It is a simple enough scenario, but the spirit of togetherness it showcases is what embodies the true significance of Deepavali, says Datuk Mohammad Medan Abdullah, the man behind this year's Deepavali commercial by Petronas.

Medan, the senior general manager of Petronas' Group Corporate Affairs Division, says the ad, aptly titled the Pursuit Of Perfection, juxtaposes individual effort with familial support.

"We picked a simple story that revolves around cooking. The commercial shows that everyone in the family has a role to play in preparing the perfect Deepavali meal. It takes a lot of effort to make a good, simple meal and everybody has to work together in order to achieve that," he says at an interview at the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

True to the Deepavali celebrations, popularly known as the festival of lights, the commercial is founded on the concept of bringing out one's light from within. "It's also a celebration of good over evil, and of light over darkness," he elaborates.

Surely it is a conscious decision to incorporate food, the favourite pastime of Malaysians, into the minute-long clip as well?

"We used cooking as a metaphor to convey that there's a light in all of us and we have to try to get that out and let it manifest into something good. It's a universal message," he explains.

"We decided from the start we didn't want to do a straightforward story. Instead, we wanted to try and take storytelling to the next level."

The absence of oil lamps quintessential in most local Deepavali commercials is testament to his willingness to break with the norm.

"It was an attempt for us to try something new," he says.

"Perhaps some might struggle to understand what we're trying to convey in our ad when they see it for the first time but, ultimately, I think the messages we're trying to communicate are clear enough."

Among them, he explains, are traditional values innate in Malaysian society, such as hard work and unity. "It's also about loyalty, cohesiveness and coming together to achieve a certain goal. In this case, it's cooking a perfect meal."

Medan adds that commercials are the company's way of participating in local celebrations.

"Since 1996, Petronas has been engaging Malaysians to discuss local issues through our commercials. We're lucky we have so many festivals over here and we take advantage of these celebrations to communicate messages that reflect our values, as well as what we think are relevant to society at large. It's a mutually beneficial exercise that contributes to national awareness."

He also speaks of pushing the envelope for story-telling in commercials.

"We stretch the limit a bit for the thinking-man in this commercial. But if you've noticed, we also went for a more abstract approach for our Merdeka-Raya ad this year. All we featured was a set of hands throughout the commercial, as a metaphor for unity.

"We've sort of moved on from the more conventionally direct approach, and I believe that Malaysians are sophisticated enough to comprehend and appreciate it.

"Plus, some of the best stories were told using symbolism. Sometimes, it's not so much what the story is about, at face value, but the message behind it. We believe the Deepavali celebration brings out the light within every individual and that's what the celebration really is about."

Speaking of story-telling, who could forget the simple but compelling Petronas ads by the late film director and scriptwriter Yasmin Ahmad?

"What we're doing now is in fact an extension of what Yasmin used to do," he admits. "If she were still alive, being the creative person that she was, I believe she would explore all the possibilities to experiment and try out different things as well.

"Our previous approach sent powerful messages that people connected with, but we can't stay at the same stage forever. We have to keep trying and experimenting with new formulas that we can adopt to tell stories to the nation."

Pursuit Of Perfection airs on TV2, TV3, 8TV, and Astro's Sun TV, Vaanavil and Velli Thirai.

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Telemovie with Danial Balaji goes on air today

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 04:37 PM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: A special telemovie, 12 Mani Neram (12 hours) featuring an up-and-coming South Indian actor Danial Balaji will be aired over RTM2 at midnight today.

"This is the first time a South Indian actor would be making a guest appearance in a locally-produced movie," director Francis Silvan said.

Danial Balaji is known for his roles in films such as Kaaka Kaaka, Vettaiyadu Vilaiyaadu, Pollathavan and Muthirai.

12 Mani Neram revolves around scientist Rajappa who discovers a vaccine with global appeal, but could be disastrous if misused.

An international syndicate which gets wind of the vaccine attempts to steal the formula but Rajappa is killed. A thief enters the picture and disrupts their plans.

Francis Silvan said there were no female characters in the movie, which also featured locals K. S. Maniam, Prem Aananth, Agonthiran, Thangamani, Gunasekaran, Chandran and others. The movie is produced by Sabtham Vision.

"It took about 15 days to complete the movie with shooting in Putrajaya, Pullman Hotel, Palace of Golden Horses and Kuala Lumpur," he said.

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The Star Online: Sports

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The Star Online: Sports

Cuba's Moreno wins third Pan-Am hammer title with record

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 04:48 PM PDT

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (Reuters) - Cuban hammer thrower Yipsi Moreno was the first gold medal winner in athletics at the Pan-American Games, breaking her Games record with the last throw of the competition on Monday.

An elated Moreno, who took her third consecutive gold at the Games with a throw of 75.62 metres, was in tears as she told reporters she could not imagine a better way to bid farewell to the quadrennial event.

"I feel radiant, proud, thrilled to help my country. These are my last Pan-American Games and to have finished like this, I leave happy," the 30-year-old said.

Moreno had already clinched victory with 73.67 metres from her first effort, followed by four no-throws, before she found a near-perfect turn to hurl the hammer 42 centimetres further than when she won in Rio de Janeiro in 2007.

As she went up for the last throw of her career as an elite athlete, she said that all the effort which that has involved, along with the support from her family, flashed across her mind.

"I send greetings to my son, my mother, the Cuban people, the whole world... (President) Fidel (Castro)," she said as she walked away choking back tears. Canadian Sultana Frizell, the only other competitor to surpass 70 metres, won the silver medal with 70.11 and Amber Campbell of the United States was third with 69.93.

Mexico's Marisol Romero, coming in to a huge roar from the home crowd on the new state-of-the-art track, won the women's 10,000 metres in 34 minutes 7.24 seconds.

She finished half a lap ahead of second-placed Brazilian Cruz da Silva with Yolanda Caballero of Colombia third, almost a whole lap adrift.

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Wozniacki, Sharapova lead field in Istanbul

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 04:47 PM PDT

LONDON (Reuters) - Three of the year's grand slam champions and world number one Caroline Wozniacki, whose CV still has a conspicuous blank in the majors column, line up in Istanbul this week as the WTA Tour finals make their debut in Turkey.

The eight-player event will bring the curtain down on a topsy-turvy year for the women's game in which Serena Williams, the best player of her generation, returned and three first-timers won majors.

Denmark's Wozniacki was handed a tough assignment in Red Group which also includes Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova from the Czech Republic, Russia's Vera Zvonareva and Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, the last player to book her place at the season-ender.

Three-times grand slam champion and former world number one Maria Sharapova, who rekindled her career this year after battling back from injury, is joined in White Group by Victoria Azarenka, French Open winner Li Na and Australian Samantha Stosur who beat Serena Williams to win the U.S. Open.

Sharapova is making her first appearance at the prestigious finale since 2007 and is aiming to win it for a second time, having triumphed in 2004.

It would go some way to making up for the disappointment of failing to add to her grand-slam haul this year despite rediscovering her powerful best.

"I think we all know what to expect going into the groups. It's the top eight girls of the year," the 24-year-old Russian said after the draw.

"You're going to get a tough group either way and a tough opponent. I think it's just a matter of being ready from the first round on."

Consistency is the watchword of Wozniacki with six titles to her name this year, although failing to reach a grand slam final gave more ammunition to the critics who question her ability to rise to the really big occasions.

She reached the final in Doha last year and would love to go one better in what is a high-quality field that resembles the last eight of a slam.

"It's a tough group, obviously, but both groups are tough. It's great players. I'm going in there just hoping to play my best tennis and we'll see what happens," she said.

Li Na is the first Chinese player to qualify for the WTA finals, although since becoming a national hero at Roland Garros, she has suffered a worrying loss of form.

A meeting with Sharapova may prove inspirational, however, as it was the Russian she beat in the semi-finals at the French Open.

Round-robin action begins on Tuesday at the Sinan Erdem Arena.

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Hafizh has come a long way since his pocket bike racing days

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 03:52 PM PDT

PETALING JAYA: Hafizh Syahrin Abdullah was just nine years old when he began mucking about in his father's motorcycle workshop in Kampung Pandan after school every day.

Hafizh was so keen to learn about motorbikes that he did not mind getting his hands dirty – even though he was of no help to his father, Shafie Harun.

And from there, his interest in motorbikes blossomed into a real passion for motor-racing.

"I learnt to get to know the motorbikes first before I took an interest in motor-racing," said the 17-year-old Hafizh, who is currenly racing in the SuperSports 600cc class with Team Petronas Syntium Moto Yamaha Raceline in the Asia Road Racing Championships.

"My dad, seeing my keen interest in motorbikes, introduced me to pocket bike races. My interest grew stronger after taking part in the races.

"I feel that if I hadn't been introduced to pocket bike races back then, I would not have been able to compete at a higher level now," added Hafizh, who idolises Spanish ace Jorge Lorenzo.

* Full story in The Star today.

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The Star Online: Business

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The Star Online: Business

Zynga's IPO due week before Thanksgiving

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 06:06 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Zynga Inc is currently planning to price its initial public offering and have its shares begin trading the week before the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday on November 24, two sources briefed on the offering said on Monday.

The sources cautioned that the social gaming company's plan has not been finalized and could change. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the plans are not public.

Zynga's debut is among a clutch of highly anticipated dotcom IPOs. Groupon launched its own roadshow this week and hopes to price its shares in early November.

If it goes ahead, Groupon will become the first major IPO since the market slump that began in the summer, serving as a litmus test for future offerings.

Roadshows typically take two weeks. That means Zynga is looking to start its IPO marketing effort close on the heels of Groupon's market debut.

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Fed could target housing to help economy: Dudley

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 06:03 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The weak housing sector continues to pose a strong headwind to the economic recovery, and the Federal Reserve could potentially do more to drive down mortgage rates to support the sector, an influential Federal Reserve official said on Monday.

William Dudley, president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, said another round of quantitative easing, or QE3, is one possible option the U.S. central bank has to boost the slow recovery. "I don't think the Fed has run out of bullets," he said.

Dudley also warned about "spillover" effects from Europe's debt crisis, which he predicted would be solved. But his comments on housing in particular could raise the stakes in the debate over what, if anything, the U.S. central bank should do next.

It was the third time in a week that a Fed policymaker highlighted the possibility that the central bank could do more to support the housing market, a persistent drag on the recovery. A glut of foreclosed homes on the market and tight credit have contributed to a sector virtually stuck in the mud and unable to gain traction.

"Breaking this vicious cycle is one of the most pressing issues facing policymakers," Dudley said in a speech at Fordham University's Gabelli School of Business.

"Clearly we've indicated our interest in supporting the housing market in keeping mortgage rate spreads, and spreads between mortgage rates and Treasury yields, from getting too elevated," he said. "Depending on how the world evolves, we potentially could move to do more in that direction."

The government on Monday, in a move to help homeowners whose homes are worth less than they owe, eased the terms of a refinancing program that helps so-called underwater borrowers who have been on time with payments but are unable to refinance.

The overhaul, however, would help only a fraction of the 11 million underwater borrowers.

Dudley, who as head of the New York Fed has a permanent voting seat on the Fed's policy-setting committee, said the central bank will continue to do everything in its power to help the economic recovery.

Dudley's comments come on the heels of remarks by Fed Governor Daniel Tarullo last week that there was "ample room" for policymakers to do more to spur growth and that more mortgage-related securities purchases should be on the table.


Faced with the worst recession in decades, the Fed in late 2008 cut rates to near zero. It followed with the purchase of $2.3 trillion in debt in two consecutive rounds of extraordinary measures known as quantitative easing -- more familiarly dubbed QE1 and QE2 -- to spur a recovery.

The purchase of mortgage securities was a controversial part of QE1 in 2009; some officials criticized it for propping up a specific sector of the economy.

Dudley, who gave back-to-back speeches in the New York City borough of the Bronx, called the housing market "a serious impediment" to a stronger recovery, which this year has been plagued by "quite disappointing" growth in gross domestic product.

The rebound has been weak and is now threatened by Europe's debt crisis, casting doubt on the central bank's strategy and effectiveness but also raising some expectations for more asset purchases.

"The Fed is doing -- and will continue to do -- everything within its power to promote jobs and price stability," said Dudley. Later, addressing the Bronx Chamber of Commerce, he said "quantitative easing round three" was a possible option.

"Without robust growth, the economy is more vulnerable to negative shocks, which unfortunately seem to keep coming," Dudley said. "It is like riding a bicycle -- at a slow speed, the bicycle wobbles and the risk of falling rises."

Another Fed regional president, Richard Fisher of the Dallas Fed, said he would be reluctant to endorse more aid to the housing sector.

"There are other initiatives that the fiscal and other authorities can take that would possibly pick housing up off the floor, but I think it is going to be a very long-term process," said Fisher, who spoke in Toronto. "I think we have to be careful not to get into fiscal initiatives at the central bank."


Europe, meanwhile, threatens to drag the world into another recession as policymakers there wrangle over a possible Greek default and its impact on the European banking system.

Dudley, citing the effect on stock markets and on bank lending, said: "To date, these effects have been much more acute in Europe than in the United States, but there are spillovers to our nation, and we need to monitor them carefully."

However, Dudley said he sees the inflation rate, which has been higher than the Fed's preferred level of 2 percent, falling, barring more energy price jumps. "I believe that underlying fundamentals will help to subdue inflation over the next few quarters," he said.

Fisher, whose dissenting votes on recent Fed easing put him on the opposite end of the policy spectrum from Dudley, agreed. "Inflation is not the problem in the United States right now," he said, adding that high unemployment is the biggest problem facing the U.S. economy.

But Fisher did not advocate more action by the Fed. He said adding any more heft to the Fed's $2.8 trillion balance sheet would be of "questionable efficacy."

Last month, the Fed announced a plan, known as Operation Twist, to replace $400 billion of short-term securities in its portfolio with longer-term debt in order to lower longer-term rates and stimulate the economy.

Brian Sack, head of the New York Fed's markets group, told primary dealers in New York that the effect of Operation Twist is about equal in size to that of the Fed's second round of asset purchases.

To date, he said, mortgage-backed securities purchases have gone smoothly with market liquidity "quite good."

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Texas Instruments sees further demand decline in Q4

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 06:01 PM PDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Texas Instruments said revenue will come under further pressure this quarter due to a drop in demand for its chips in almost every market because of macroeconomic weakness.

Shares in the maker of chips for products ranging from cellphones to industrial equipment fell 1 percent in late trade as it could not say when growth would resume, reinforcing fears about the European financial crisis and high U.S. unemployment.

Chief Financial Officer Kevin March said the decline in demand appeared to be slowing but that it was too soon to say when orders would hit a bottom and resume growth.

"Orders had a sharp drop in July and fell at a slower rate in August and September ... It suggests to us that demand is beginning to hit a bottom. You'll typically see some growth after that." March told Reuters.

March said that while "it's tough to guess when we'll achieve a bottom" history would suggest that it could happen sooner rather than later. "Having been through cycles in the past the revenue and order pattern does suggest the decline is coming to an end," he said.

Also on Monday, European semiconductor maker STMicroelectronics warned of much weaker demand and forecast an 8 percent drop in revenue in the current quarter.

Charter Equity Research analyst Edward Snyder said he did not take too much comfort from March's comments.

"Investors should take the comments regarding bottoming with a big grain of salt. Like all semiconductor companies they have very little visibility," Snyder said.

Including revenue from National Semiconductor, which TI bought for $6.5 billion in September, TI fourth quarter revenue in a range of $3.26 billion to $3.54 billion, implying a midpoint about 2 percent lower than third quarter revenue.

But without National, TI's fourth-quarter revenue would decline 10 percent, according to March.

He cited weaker than expected demand for its chips in markets such as automobiles, computers and consumer electronics, which are often boosted by the end of year holiday shopping season. One bright spot was sales of chips for smartphones, which continued to be "solid," but March did not give details.

TI forecast a decline in fourth quarter earnings per share from the third quarter to a range of 28 cents to 36 cents, including 15 cents per share of acquisition related costs.

"The future doesn't look that great," said Charter's Snyder. "These guys are the canary in the coal mine."

The chip maker said third quarter revenue and earnings were slightly ahead of its targets, but those target was already low. In September TI cut its expectations for the third quarter due to a broad-based slowdown in demand due to economic concerns.

For the third quarter, TI said net income fell to $601 million or 51 cents per share from $859 million or 71 cents per share in the year-ago quarter.

Third quarter revenue fell seven percent to $3.47 billion from $3.74 billion a year ago but was ahead of its forecast range of $3.23 billion to $3.27 billion. TI closed its purchase of chip maker National Semiconductor on September 23, just before the quarter ended.

TI shares fell 1.3 percent to $31.29 in late trade after closing up 4 percent at $31.69.

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The Star Online: Nation

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Pahang PAS Youth against 'gay' Elton John concert on Nov 22

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 05:33 AM PDT

TEMERLOH: Pahang PAS Youth has protested against Elton John's Greatest Hits Tour concert, scheduled for Nov 22 in Genting Highlands, saying the performance by the "gay singer" was considered "incompatible" with Malaysian culture.

Its chairman Shahril Azman Abdul Halim said in Harakah Daily on Monday that "even though it is meant to entertain his fans, the international singing icon would have a negative influence on the younger generation.

"The authorities are aware that the culture of hedonism or excessive and extreme entertainment is spreading swiftly, like poison, among young Muslims.

"It is this culture such as free intermingling, drinking, adultery and illegitimate children - that often damages a society and causes people to neglect their responsibilities to their religion.

"This is made worse by the practise of homosexuality. We cannot imagine how the youth will receive it, especially when the authorities failed to restrict it from the start," he said.

John, famous for songs like Candle in the Wind and Rocket Man, married his partner David Furnish in 2005 after same-sex marriage became legal in Britain.

They have a son, Zachary Jackson Levon John, who was born in 2010 through a surrogate mother.

This is the first time that John will be performing in Malaysia.

Shahril urged the authorities to put a stop to the concert and stem moral decay in society.

MCA central committee member Loh Seng Kok , however, described PAS' proposal as extreme.

"We are only interested in his music," he said. "But, PAS is making Malaysia a laughing stock in the eyes of the world."

Loh said such concerts helped earn tourism revenue and also enabled Malaysians to watch world-class acts.

He urged the promoters to ignore PAS as the party was not reflective of the Malaysian majority.

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Elton John set for Malaysian debut

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AG's Report: RM5bil cash reserves used to meet revenue shortfall

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 04:40 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: The Federal Government's source of funds for last year totalled RM519.99bil but its expenditure was at RM525.93bil, according to the Auditor-General's Report 2010.

Cash was used to overcome the RM5.95bil shortfall, it said.

As a result, cash reserves last year dropped from RM27.5bil in January to RM21.57 in December.

The report also said that the ratio of the Federal Government's debt to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at the end of last year was at 53.1%, which was more than 50% for two consecutive years.

The country's national debt last year stood at RM407.1bil, an increase from RM362.39bil in 2009.

However, tax collections increased last year by RM1.01bil to RM159.65bil compared to 2009.

More in The Star Tuesday

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AG's Report: Firms claim RM2.3bil in compensation since 2006

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 04:40 AM PDT

PETALING JAYA: A whopping RM2.38bil worth of compensation claims have been filed against 12 ministries and the Prime Minister's Department over the last five years, the Auditor-General's Report said.

They comprised 42 claims made from 2006.

Of these claims, RM666.98mil involving nine ministries had been approved, of which 91.5% have been paid to the affected contractors.

The claims involved the building of a school at a Felda settlement in Negri Sembilan and for a road construction project Durian Tunggal-Paya Rumput- Sungai Udang Melaka worth RM4.56mil,

On advance payment to contractors, the report stated that the total figure had reduced from RM1.75bil in 2009 to RM1.28bil at the end of last year.

However, an audit analysis on the balance of advance payment to contractors for last year, showed that a total of RM62.2mil had yet to be collected from 23 companies although the project had either been completed, abandoned or was 75% completed.

More in The Star Tuesday

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Wonder of wordless picture books

Posted: 22 Oct 2011 11:32 PM PDT

THE most recent e-mail I received from a reader asking for book recommendations was from a young man who'd just discovered Shaun Tan:

"Hi, I like reading but I prefer stuff with pictures, like graphic novels. Last weekend I found a book called The Arrival in the graphic novels section of a bookshop. It's awesome, and I was surprised to find out that the artist, Shaun Tan, actually writes children's books.

"Are his other books like The Arrival? Which one would you recommend? And are there other children's books like it, with cool drawings and an interesting story that isn't too childish?" – From Visually Stimulated

I agree! Shaun Tan's The Arrival is awesome (check out the reproduced page on the right). If you haven't had the pleasure, it's a wordless picture book that tells the story of a man who has to leave his family and travel to a new land to make his living.

A few years ago, just months before this book was published, I had the pleasure of hearing Tan speak about how The Arrival grew from 32 pages (the average length of a picture book) to 40 pages, to 48 and so on until it reached its final length of 128 pages. I guess this is why it is often shelved with the graphic novels: Booksellers aren't quite sure what category it belongs to, and not just because it has more pages than is usual for a picture book, but also because of its sepia-toned illustrations, which depict the loneliness and alienation felt by its protagonist as he navigates the strange country he has come to.

Rather than portray a real country in his book, Tan creates a make-believe world whose foreign alphabet, and weird and wonderful flora and fauna allow readers to feel something of the character's bewilderment.

Tan has often said that he writes and illustrates what interests him and does not create specifically with children in mind, but I think that the disorientation, isolation and depression that crop up again and again in his books are what all of us (children included) have experienced (and will continue to experience) in one way or other, and at some point or other in our lives. This makes the work relevant on so many levels.

Here's my reply to Visually Stimulated:

I love all of Shaun Tan's books. He has illustrated for other writers, but books like The Red Tree and The Lost Thing are wholly his creations. The Arrival is Tan's only wordless picture book – it's also the longest. The Red Tree and The Lost Thing have 32 pages each. Then there is Tales From Outer Suburbia, a collection of illustrated stories, each more startling than the one before.

There are lots of picture books with really stunning illustrations and many tell stories that people of all ages can relate to. Check out David Weisner's books, especially his wordless picture books, which often present everyday situations and objects with a fantastical twist.

You may also like The Mysteries Of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. This book is actually a collection of pictures depicting strange and even eerie events. They are not connected ... unless you want them to be. Indeed, the pictures absolutely cry out to be interpreted and expanded on in a variety of ways. Therefore, while this book might seem not to tell a story, it actually contains infinite numbers of stories, all just waiting to be released by the imagination.

Finally, if you're interested in picture books with serious themes and striking illustrations, try The Island by Armin Greder. A stranger is washed ashore on an island and is treated with shocking cruelty by its inhabitants. The harsh, dark strokes of the charcoal illustrations reflect the pain of the stranger, and also the islanders' hatred and rage. Greder's work raises questions about the racism and paranoia inherent in most of us, and although a short work, presents food for thought worth many hours of discussion.

Good luck with exploring the world of picture books!

Daphne Lee reads to wonder and wander, be amazed and amused, horrified and heartened and inspired and comforted. She wishes more people will try it too. Send e-mails to the above address and check out her blog at

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Sad selection

Posted: 22 Oct 2011 11:29 PM PDT

HAVE you ever walked into a bookstore hoping to buy a good book ... only to walk out, despondent? A recent trip to a major bookstore in downtown Sydney, Australia, was more than just disheartening for me – it was fretful. Because amidst hundreds of books, we simply could not find any that we wanted – and I blame the bookstore for this.

In the juvenile section, books were arranged immaculately by authors' last names. You'd expect Roald Dahl to rest close to Patrick Carman, author of the Skeleton Creek series, Book 1 of which had been recommended by my son's school librarian. Sadly, Carman was not there; instead, Dahl shared the row with young adult fiction writer Jenny Downham. My eight-year-old son pulled out her steamy You Against Me, only to fret over it, then return it. Off he scurried to look for reliable Rick Riordan. But The Lightning Thief, the first book of Riordan's amazing Percy Jackson And The Olympians series, was nowhere to be seen either.

Having spoken to a few staff members, some of whom were friendly and some indignant, my son returned and said, "I told them to have more copies because all my friends are reading it." A child knew of the extent of Riordon's popularity. The bookstore, sadly, did not.

I kept trawling the store desperately to find my son a book. The one I finally found, which he approved with a nod after perusing the first paragraph, was a hidden gem sitting alone on a trolley and looking as despondent as my boy. It was Eva Ibbotson's One Dog And His Boy.

Apparently, the bookstore did not have young children in mind when shelving and categorising its books. Of all market segments, it is kids that book retailers should target so as to secure a future generation of customers. Not this store, which did not even have recommendations for children.

Nor did it have any for adults. Among the bestsellers, the closest alternative it had to recommendations, was Greogory David Roberts' Shataram. Popular though it may be, the book could not have been a bestseller. It was there in the months leading up to Christmas last year, it was there again during this recent visit, and I suppose it will remain there until this Christmas....

I tried to focus on finding just one interesting book to while away an upcoming long weekend. I remembered reading about Urs Widmer's My Mother's Lover recently in the newspapers. When asked about it, the staff shrugged sheepishly. They had not heard of it.

In the vaguely defined non-fiction new arrival shelves, Thomas Friedman did not take centre stage. He hadn't arrived yet, though I had already spotted in online pictures the cover of his latest book, That Used To Be Us, prominently displayed in a bookstore in Singapore. I did not bother to ask the Sydney store's staff about this one. I was too tired. As we left, largely still disappointed, I worried about this store's future. When placed in the hands of book-loving booksellers, books flourish and their future is indestructible even if slightly menaced by technology. If treated as just another product, though, they will surely succumb to that menace.

The Lightning Thief soon arrived on my doorstep from Book Depository (, cheaper and bearing the faint scent of London. I am awaiting Haruki Murakami's 1084 from my favourite KL bookstore. And I was, indeed, mesmerised by My Mother's Lover, which I eventually found, ironically, in the local library. The tables have turned and librarians, previously dismissed as conservatively unimaginative, now have finer taste.

Even as I slurped up the book, though, fretfulness lingered over the future of books – and the decreasing likelihood of visiting that architecturally majestic bookstore in Sydney again.

Abby Wong thanks the much smaller bookstore in her neighbourhood shopping mall for highlighting John Ajvide Lindgvist's Harbour, a book that terrified her from beginning to end.

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Soulmate’s cry

Posted: 22 Oct 2011 11:28 PM PDT

This memoir about living with the late Stieg Larsson is almost as thrilling as the bestselling crime novels he wrote.

Stieg & Me: Memories Of A Life With Stieg Larsson
Author: Eva Gabrielsson
Publisher: Orion Books

THE Girl With The Dragon Tattoo phenomenon has sturdier legs that anyone ever expected, even at the height of Millennium Trilogy fever two years ago. With genuine excitement replacing cynicism over the December release of the Hollywood film adaptation – thanks in large part to a highly promising-looking trailer – interest has been reignited in the life and times of the best-selling novelist Sweden has ever produced. Because Stieg Larsson died before his three novels were published, let alone became global bestsellers, he has remained something of an enigma.

The picture of the man is partly filled in here by his girlfriend of 32 years, Eva Gabrielsson, whose memoir, Stieg & Me is both a fascinating and a frustrating read. And, one feels, it could have been longer.

Hers is a yarn that itself would make for a natural sub-plot in one of her late partner's novels. When Larsson was felled suddenly by a heart attack in 2004 at the age of 50, his death destroyed the couple's dreams of a financially secure future – one cruel blow upon another for the surviving lover, as the pair had lived on the slenderest of means for the duration of their relationship.

When the trilogy turned into a cash cow – further fattened by Swedish film adaptations, and translations into dozens of languages – a bitter struggle began between Garbrielsson and Stieg's father and brother, Erland and Joakim Larsson. Ignoring the bereaved Gabrielsson and her needs, Erland and Joakim seized total control of Stieg's estate, despite – in Garbrielsson's version of this thrilling narrative – having not been in any way close to Stieg during his lifetime.

Nevertheless, under Swedish law, Gabrielsson has no legal grounds to inherit as she never married Stieg. Erland and Joakim were also able to seize ownership of Stieg's three novels and – in Gabrielsson view – exploit them greedily and inappropriately, preventing her from seeing a single krona from her late partner's work. One really senses the agony of her rage and sense of injustice in these pages.

There are insights here too, such as some background to Larsson's trip to an International Communist convention in Ethiopia in 1977, and exposition on Sweden's class system. But much of Stieg & Me is unsurprising.

Gabrielsson maintains that all the action in the Millenium Trilogy novels are based on true events; not greatly revealing – after all, Stieg spent most of his working life as a journalist. We already knew that the Mellqvist Kaffebar and other locations frequented by protagonist Mikael Blomkvist were ones the couple too patronised, that many of the characters in the novels are based on real-life friends, and so on. Many Stockholmers claim to know or have known someone depicted in the novel – indeed countless denizens of the Swedish capital have played this guessing game in recent years. But one must surmise that Gabrielson's word is the definitive one in this regard.

She also states it was she who encouraged that Larsson's novels keep issues such as feminism, corruption and Sweden's faintly palpable undercurrent of fascism at the forefront of readers' minds, especially as they are causes Larsson fought for so valiantly and for so long.

Penned in a terse and unadorned style, Stieg & Me is as much Gabrielsson's case against the surviving Larssons as it is a memoir, which of course makes it all the more gripping. While Gabrielsson can't write anywhere as engagingly as her late boyfriend, her words do flow with passion and conviction.

Disappointingly, the book fails to provide useful information, much less closure, on the rumoured "fourth novel", said to be partly completed on Larsson's laptop at the time of his death. Last year, Gabrielsson told reporters that that she didn't want the "fourth novel" to ever be published. In this memoir, she appears to have changed her mind, suggesting she's open to the possibility of finishing it herself.

"I cannot tell exactly what part of the Millennium Trilogy comes from Stieg and what comes from me," she says, supporting the contention (truthful or otherwise, or somewhere in between) that the books were co-written to a large extent. "I can only say that just as Stieg and I shared a common language, we often wrote together," she writes.

The book's most gratifying surprise is of Gabrielsson's own making. After giving the reader a history lesson on Scandinavian lore, she describes how she sought supernatural vengeance against the enemies of herself and Larsson. And here the book really catches fire. Gabrielsson performs an ancient Nordic ceremony to curse her foes and all those who had brought pain and suffering to Larsson. The accursed includes his father and brother, of course.

Understandably perhaps, Gabrielsson's dialogue with the surviving Larssons over the estate has broken down irrevocably. Nevertheless, she says she'll continue her fight for the deceased Larsson – and for a segment of the estate pie – because "he wouldn't have expected anything less".

Gabrielsson clearly is a woman with an axe to grind, and then, when sufficiently sharp, to – metaphorically – bury it in the skull of Stieg's father, before setting upon the brother with the same bloodied weapon, Salander-style.

One thing that emerges from both the Millenium Trilogy books and this brief memoir is that Swedish familial revenge is nurtured for decades and through the generations; the Swedes are the blood-feuding Albanians of Northern Europe.

In Stieg & Me, Gabrielsson comes across as being something of an avenging angel – not unlike Larsson's goth-punk heroine, Salander – and one can almost see the paunchy, middle-aged anti-fascism activist and novelist smiling that uncertain smile of his in some Nordic Valhalla before taking another drag on his ever-present cigarette.

Nobody can speak for him now of course, not even his soulmate – and there is no doubt that this is who Gabrielsson was – but he probably would have liked this memoir, which describes him with such tenderness, and his enemies, with such venom.

Meanwhile, the legal thriller behind the Millennum Trilogy is set to keep running. It's a story that forces you to take sides, and this book successfully persuades the reader to take Gabrielsson's.

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

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The Star Online: Entertainment: Movies

Malaysian masala

Posted: 24 Oct 2011 12:00 AM PDT

Although locally-made Indian movies are not a dime a dozen, there have been inroads made into the scene.

TO trace the colourful trail of Malaysian made Indian movies, we must go back to the 1960s. One could consider Rathapei (Bloody Lust) as the first Indian film made by a local production as it had been done by a dance troupe who recorded their performance on stage while touring India.

Two more projects would follow suit in the 1970s. One was by Felix Anthony, a producer from Ipoh with Thun Bangal Urangu Vathillai (Worries Don't Stop) and Anbe En Anbe (My Love).

One was a disaster. The other two never saw light of day due to lack of funding.

So, credit for the first locally-made Indian movie to become a success has to go to Panchacharam Nalliah, better known as Pansha, who directed Naan Oru Malaysian (I Am Malaysian) in 1991.

Pansha, an established film distributor who then shot to fame in Adutha Veedu, a TV3 Tamil drama about hostile neighbours in 1984, recalls what spurred him on.

"During the 80s, many production houses from India did their filming in Malaysia. Every time they came, there was a lot of talk about collaborations with Malaysian artistes to encourage the film industry. But as soon as they finished production, these people went back and nothing more was heard. So, I decided to do something about it by making my own film," says Pansha who wrote, directed and played the hero in the movie.

Naan Oru Malaysian made its run in three locations and raked in RM150,000. Pansha recollects that it played to full house in Kuala Lumpur's Federal Cinema during its week-long run and even reckoned that it would have done better if not for the turmoil between two bickering political parties who had forced the authorities to cordon off the town area which affected attendance at the Coliseum Theatre in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, KL. But in all, the man has no regrets.

In 2005, Deepak Menon made Chemman Chaalai (The Gravel Road), a Tamil film with English subtitles. The film was shown at a number of film festivals across the world including the International Film Festival Rotterdam, San Francisco International Film Festival, Pusan International Film Festival, Korea, Nantes Festival 3 Continents, France and the Fukuoka International Film Festival in Japan. A few years later, he released another film, Chalanggai (Dancing Bells). These were not your average Tamil movies, but rather stories portraying the daily life of people as humanly and realistically as possible, and met with a promising reception. However because they were made in digital format (which is not yet a recognised medium), the movies were not classified as locally made films.

What made Naan Oru Malaysian different for Deepak's films was that it was shot on 35mm film. According to Pansha, the director and producer of Naan Oru Malaysian from Berjaya Film Production, shooting on film is a giant step for the industry in terms of cost as it requires a huge budget. A can of film which has a screening time of five minutes can cost RM500. So, a full length movie spanning two and half hours can take up to 100 cans. In truth, this means that last year's production of Appalam was indeed only the second Malaysian-made Indian movie after Naan Oru Malaysian to be shot on 35mm film.

Malay director Afdlin Shauki's Appalam was produced by Tayangan Unggul, a sister company of Astro, and released with much hype from the media.

Interestingly, Gana Pragasam, the actor who played the hero in this movie was also the first producer to come up with the Tamil VCD.

Hello, Yaare Peserathe (Who Is There?), a comedy about prank calls, was first released as an audio cassette in 1999, before it was adapted into a two-hour VCD movie.

"There was no Indian movie VCDs back then except for the Kollywood imports. I wanted to create a new market," recalls Gana.

The start was not encouraging. When he bandied the idea to local producers, one told him point blank that no one would want to see his face.

Unperturbed, Gana went ahead. A stall at Batu Caves, Selangor, set up during the Thaipusam festival, became his first sales outlet. Eleven VCDs and RM2.5mil later, this prolific producer, director, script writer and actor is best known among Tamil movie fans as the local comedy king. His latest project, Budak Estet, an animation is due for release in 2012 as a 26-episode TV serial.  

Having forged his own path into showbiz, the former Toshiba copier technician is also the industry's most fiery advocate.

In a letter to Astro in August this year, Gana who is also president of Malaysian Indian Art Activist Association, voiced that the current practice of the broadcasting station in producing local Indian content on an in-house basis was no help in encouraging the industry to progress.

"Allocations to produce documentaries and 26-episode dramas should be given to private production companies to help the industry expand. Local stations should have at least one Tamil channel airing 100% locally produced content," he says.

The National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas), he added, should also play its part by allocating grants to deserving companies.

So is the Indian movie scene in danger of extinction? A personal observation at a DVD store in Brickfields, KL, shows that it is still progressing at a healthy rate. This year alone sees two film releases.

One is Garuuda, directed by M. Subash. Released in August. It features actor M. Suurya in his first starring role. In this action-packed movie, the fight choreographer is none other than national taekwando champ, Selvamuthu Ramasamy, who made headlines in the 1989 and 1991 SEA Games with his gold medals.

Another is Anusthanaa a thriller starring Anaantha the THR Raaga DJ, and Haani Shivraj. Shot in Kampar (Perak), Fraser's Hill (Pahang) and Kuala Lumpur, it promises plenty of suspense and drama and should be released at the end of the year.

Another new movie, anticipated for the Deepavali season according to Pancha, is Vilaiyaatu Pasanga (The Tuff Nuts) directed by Vimala Perumal

Being Malaysian-made, the local Indian movie naturally has a muhibbah feel.

For example, in Singakottai, a GV Media VCD production of a comedy about a royal court that has isolated itself from the modern world, the king receives a letter from the Kuala Lumpur City Hall! Audiences are quick to recognise the palace as the Sultan Abdul Samad building in front of Dataran Merdeka.

In Undercover Rascals, starring C. Kumaresan of Gerak Khas fame and Jasmine Micheal, the hero's best friend falls for a Chinese girl, lending a unique touch to the song-and-dance routine.

So, since we are brewing our own productions would it be possible for an Indian movie to go without the song and dance for once?

Subash, who directed Pensil, a story of a disabled boy's unconditional love for his drunkard father which was shown over Vaanavil in 2005, gives a ready nod.

However, he points out that one of the trials of making Pensil was a rejection slip by a station because there was no song and dance. But after sinking more than RM25,000 of his and his partner's hard earned savings into the making of the film, they were not going to let go.

The perseverance paid off because when it finally made it on Vaanavil, the response from the media was huge.

"I got people calling to ask how they could help the boy in the movie and I had to tell them that it was a fictional character," says Subash, who played the lead role. (In 2008, Pensil was made into a Malay film and screened at cinemas, with Subash reprising his role as the lead character.)

But one thing that no Indian movie can miss is the love story and one of my favourite love scenes is in Undercover Rascals.

This is where the hero enters into the line of fire with his Mitsubishi Evolution IV to rescue the damsel in distress. Seeing the baddie go for his gun, hero swings heroine to safety and in that split second, their eyes meet and they fall in love. How dramatic!

Meanwhile, plots continue to simmer and boil, enveloping everything in an aroma of drama and suspense.

Only this time, the cooking is happening right in our own backyard. 

As for what's in store for the future, trends show that the dream of "making it big in India" remains popular. But there are those who prefer to break away from the pack.

Currently, Gana is collaborating with partners from Bangladesh for Foreigner, a movie chronicling the life of a migrant worker abroad.

"Compare the Malaysian population of 28 million, Bangladesh has 180 million. You can do the math from here, I guess," concludes Gana.

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Win In Time Goodies

Posted: 23 Oct 2011 08:06 PM PDT

Welcome to a world where time has become the ultimate currency. You stop aging at 25, but there's a catch: you're genetically-engineered to live only one more year, unless you can buy your way out of it. The rich "earn" decades at a time (remaining at age 25), becoming essentially immortal, while the rest beg, borrow or steal enough hours to make it through the day. When a man from the wrong side of the tracks is falsely accused of murder, he is forced to go on the run with a beautiful hostage. Living minute to minute, the duo's love becomes a powerful tool in their war against the system.

Catch Justin Timberlake in In Time, in cinemas 27 October. We have In Time goodies to give away thanks to the good people in 20th Century Fox. To take part, answer the questions below.

1. He used to sing in the boy band *NSync. He now stars in In Time. What is his name?

2.In this movie, at what age do you stop aging?

Email your answers with your details (name, address, IC number and contact number) to by 26 October 2011. Title the subject IN TIME.

We have a laptop bag, iPhone 4 cases, playing cards and double movie passes to give away.

Rules & Regulations

1. The contest is open to all Malaysian residents residing in Malaysia only.

2. To qualify for a prize, contestants must include relevant personal details (full name, address, new IC number , contact number).

3. Contestants may only submit one entry each. Multiple entries will be disqualified.

4. One prize is allowed per contestant only.

5. Prizes are not exchangeable for cash and the organizer reserves the right to exchange the prize with that of a similar value without prior notice.

6. Staff of The Star Publications (Malaysia) Berhad, sponsors and their immediate families are not allowed to participate.

7. Judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entertained.

8. Judges will be from The Star Online.

9. For enquiries, please e-mail

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

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The Star Online: Lifestyle: Arts & Fashion

Consummate soul-catcher

Posted: 22 Oct 2011 11:39 PM PDT

The grand old man of Indonesian modern art is finally appearing on our shores.

THE eyes, pitch black and scratchy, stare out of the portrait even as they are stared at, and delves at the same time into the innermost soul of the person portrayed. It's as if the eyes have been gouged out. They have no eyeballs.

Uncannily psychological, these paintings bear the signature style of Jeihan Sukmantoro, Indonesia's super-meister artist.

"We are all walking and working in darkness and mystery. We don't know where we are going, what will happen tomorrow," Jeihan explains his trademark black eyes.

"Its use is also related to Futurism. There will come a time when everyone will have to wear black soft lenses to defuse the bright sunlight coming through a dangerously thin ozone layer."

Those eyes give the subject an enigmatic aura, even a sense of foreboding. They also create mystique and diminish the physical and the mass. Jeihan's figures are disarmingly flat and often "suspended" like modern-day wayang kulit characters but with unseen prop sticks. As with wayang kulit, the background colours reflect the positive-negative play basking in the light. Everything is kept minimalist, as if to re-emphasise the basics – there is a sheer purity of colours and lines.

The background, in monochrome, duo-tone or tricolour, makes the subject seem to float in an ambiguous space, what Jeihan aptly describes as "out of time and out of place".

As windows to the soul, Jeihan's painted eyes are a black hole of emotional DNA. Shaded and concealed, they reveal the inner psyche from which the subject looks out at the world – prescient moments somehow shared with the artist.

The blackened eyes, which started with a 1965 work, Gadis, also extend to animals, mostly cats. Girls or boys, all get the same "Marilyn Monroe" lipstick.

At his vast studio-gallery complex at Pasirlujang in Bandung – which encompasses an open basement studio with a billiards table and another indoor studio in a nearby bungalow – Jeihan cuts a strangely solitary figure. He moves around in the space almost like he's sliding in slow-mo, sometimes exiting and suddenly appearing again.

For a 73-year-old, he's agile, making his way confidently up the stairs of the three-and-a-half storey main building to the first floor where we are to talk.

He talks excitedly and quickly (just like he paints, daughter Ivy points out) but never unthoughtfully; he comes across as a deep thinker, with a clarity that overcomes fossilised old ways.

A rebel known for his skirmishes with conservative authorities during his Institute of Technology, Bandung days from 1960-66, Jeihan has beaten the odds to prove that one doesn't need a piece of paper to be hugely successful as an artist and to achieve greatness.

He lives with his family in a palatial home some 10 minutes away from the studio. With his wife, Sri Sunarsih, he has six children – Ata, Adi, Aga, Aryo, Ivy, Dr Iya (Ila, the youngest, died when she was 10 months old).

For the blessings in his life, Jeihan gives back to the community. His studio complex has a community mosque (he has built another in nearby Cicadas) and a public library, performance pavilion, studio galleries and quarters for young artists.

Versatile creativity

He paints mostly in oil, and since the 1990s, a little bit with acrylic too. He is also adept at pottery, woodcuts, sculptures (copper and wooden), watercolours, pastels and drawings.

Jeihan is also a published poet (MATA mBeling Jeihan, publisher: PT Grasindo, 2000), founding mBeling in 1970. It's known for ignoring the straitjacket of iambic pentameters to create light onomatopoeia and loose text-play pictorialism, or "thoughts Lego". For instance:

Mukadimah Puisi mBeling (1971)

"Sajak ya sajak

Jejak ya jejak

Sajak cari jejak

Jejak cari sajak


Yang jejak, jejak

Yang sajak, sajak."

Jeihan's "hollowed eyes" signature also extends to his life-sized copper sculptures of standing or reclining figures. They have titles like Abortion, Meditation, Hermaphrodite, Masturbation.

He had also carved figurative outlines in wood, including one in 1968 which became an art statement of two pieces when he "decapitated" the figure.

In the 1970s, he also fired clay ceramics, imaginatively playing with shapes as functional vessels or merely as whimsical showpieces.

During that period, he combined the cut and thrust of the palette knife with the elegance of brush strokes in works like his Boat Series, while the earlier Aku, from 1955, brims with raw, intense and aggressive cuts.

His Boat Series and also his Sunflower Series (2000) and a few of his Balinese Dancer Series are noted for their subtle use of drips.

While his paintings are centred on the eyes, they are not his main quest in his portraits. "It's the aura. I want to catch the aura of a person," he confides. "Everyone has an aura."

To demonstrate his painting style (which is very unlike the romantic, naturalistic "Mooi Indie" tradition of say, Basuki Abdullah), he hurries his workers to gather his materials. Squatting on the floor like a bird, he does a quick portrait of me with only daubs of yellow, white and black on a plywood board while his worker holds up the canvas. In five minutes, he completes the portrait – and what a searching portrait it is!

Jeihan has painted dignitaries such as Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudho-yono but it's the ordinary folk in the streets and marketplaces and the solitary portraits of nubile young women that he is most famous for.

"Women have a very unique resonance, a mystique," he says.

His works are the story of that feminine mystique, young women caught in their private moments and in their safe space; vulnerable and innocent and with a rustic charm, yet modern in outlook. His Mother & Child theme perhaps best reflects the Asian Woman known for her high threshold of pain and rock-like stability.

His portraits are all of real people – family members, friends, neighbours, strangers, street kids and musicians. Because of the pallor of their faces, the elegant strokes and the slightly elongated body, a tension is created while the effect is often haunting and mysterious.

The gestures of the spade-like hands, very like his, also decide the mood. His women have hands crossed over bodies, hands on laps, legs crossed, knees raised up to the body, reclining in full abandon, or they are in an awkward pose.

His female forms have been compared to those of Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) because of the elegiac, stretched lines and flat colours.

But Jeihan remarks: "When I held a solo exhibition in Rome (at the Centro D'Alte Culture) in 1975, there was not even a squeak about this, Modigliani being Italian!"

Breaking the rules

Jeihan has also had solo exhibitions in Rotterdam (Holland, 1981), New Jersey (United States, 1982), Zurich (Switzerland, 1983) and Paris (1999).

But his biggest early break came in 1985 when he had an Expressionist "duet" in Jakarta with S. Sudjojono (1913-1986), dubbed the Father of Indonesian Modernism. It jump-started Jeihan's career and indirectly anointed him as Sudjojono's successor.

His exhibition with Srihardi Sudarsono and Nyoman Gunarsa in 1995 in Jakarta was followed by another for the charitable Padmanaba cause in 1997.

Born with silver spoon firmly in mouth on Sept 26, 1938, in Ngampel, Boyolali, near Solo (Central Java), Jeihan picked up painting basics at the Himpunan Badaya Surakarta under his first mentor, Sumitro Hendronoto, from 1953 to 1955; he also had his first solo showing there in 1958.

At six, he suffered a head injury from a fall which kept him out of school for eight years. Although he still has occasional headaches, Jeihan believes that this misadventure triggered the restless creative genie in him.

When he enrolled in the art faculty of the Institute of Technology, Bandung (ITB) in 1960, he quickly rebelled against its policies and curriculum, which he found conservative, archaic, inhibitive and prohibitive.

He had financial problems too by then – his family, once rich (father Widiatmo was a tobacco wholesaler), had lost status, property and fortune during Indonesia's class revolution of 1945.

While struggling with finances, Jeihan also grappled with rules, rules, rules: He couldn't hold exhibitions outside campus, as students were not allowed to; he was doing figurative work while the ITB style stressed Cubism and abstracts; the school was orientated towards producing teachers, not professional artists.

Jeihan's academic years were stretched by the communist purge, the turbulent events of 1965 and President Sukarno's year of vivere pericolosamente ("living dangerously") that finally ended in his downfall and Suharto's ascendency.

Finally, in 1985, one of Jeihan's paintings sold for 50 million rupiahs at an auction.

"The portraits of ordinary people are a celebration of life's infinite little moments and the equilibrium of emotional states between the personal and the immediate environment," says Jeihan, still the art world's consummate soul-catcher after all these years.

And he keeps going: Jeihan will be holding his first Kuala Lumpur exhibition this week at the KL Lifestyle Art Space and his works will also be available at the gallery's booth at upcoming the 5th International Art Expo Malaysia.

Jeihan Sukmantoro's solo exhibition, Our Being, is currently on at the KL Lifestyle Art Space (No. 150, Jalan Maarof, Bangsar) and will continue until Nov 30. Opening hours are noon to 9pm; for more information, % 03-2093 2668 or go to

The gallery will have a booth (No.17) at the 5th International Art Expo Malaysia, which will be launched on Friday by Tourism Minister Datuk Sri Dr Ng Yen Yen.

The expo is on from Oct 28 to Nov 1 at the Matrade Exhibition & Convention Centre (Menara Matrade, Jalan Khidmat Usaha, Off Jalan Duta, KL).

For more information, 03-7728 3677, e-mail or go to

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