Do you remember? There was a time that all of us in Malaysia would be expecting for the Petronas TV Commercials during big festivals. Each time a commercial was released, everyone would be sobbing while watching it. I called it as “Yasmin’s Effect”.

Yasmin Ahmad (7 January 1958 – 25 July 2009) was one of the greatest film directors in Malaysia. Her television commercials and films are well known for their humor and love that crosses cross-cultural barriers. In all her films, she portrayed the deepest common feelings in a human’s soul despite the differences in status, age, gender, and race. That is why her films can make us smile and cry at the same time.

Today, as Merdeka Day is nearly approaching, TopNotch would like to present you a retrospective of Yasmin Ahmad’s films. Please ready your tissue box on your lap, and please skip this if you’re wearing non-waterproof mascara today.

Tan Hong Ming in Love – Petronas TV Commercials for Merdeka Day 2007

Let’s start with a mild one.

This is one of her best-known Petronas Ads. The film features the cute little boy Tan Hong Ming who was secretly in love with his buddy in school, Ummi Khazriena, while the beautiful little girl was actually in love with him as well. Although the short film is very cute, warm and funny, it brings a very powerful aftershock to the audience. At the end of it, there’s a quote picturing “Our children are colour blind. Shouldn’t we keep them that way?”.

Of course, we knew that Tan and Ummi are both actors but it is also very true that children are very naïve. They wouldn’t judge their friends by skin colours. Adults are those who spoilt the harmony. Imagine one day your son is coming back from school telling you he is in love with a little girl from a different race, what would you do? Will you say, “She is a sweet girl!” or “You shouldn’t be friend with her, she is not like us!”

Our society is exciting, interesting and beautiful because of the variety of races and cultures. Whether your children will grow up to be adults who cherish the multiculturalism in our country or those who discriminate people from different culture, it all depends on how you foster them.

Sepet (2004)

Like Tan Hong Ming in Love, Sepet is also a love story between a Malay girl and a Chinese boy. Unlike the refreshing and sweet short film, Sepet is a painful story about love that ends in uncompromising tragedy. The friendship between the two teenagers, Orked and Jason blossomed quickly because the two shared a lot of common interest. Jason was fond of Orked because she is a free spirited and cheerful girl while Orked was attracted to Jason because of his romantic personalities. However, they faced a lot of social pressures because of the distinct socioeconomic background.

The barriers between the young lovers are not only the difference of skin colour, but they also came from different social classes. Orked came from an affluent family while Jason was from a dysfunctional working-class background.

It is very common in every society that parents always want their children to find their life partners from the similar socioeconomic background. However, love is a natural feeling that is uncontrollable. When they tried to forcefully separate the two lovers, there would be a tragic outcome.

Rich Son Poor Son – Petronas TV Commercials for Chinese New Year

This is one of my favourite TV Commercials produced by Yasmin Ahmad. It is very short and simple, but it shows the cruel truth.

Human beings have the tendency to compare between one another. When you were in primary school, you compared who had the fanciest pencil box. When you started working, you compared who drove a better car. There is no ending to these comparisons.

These practices will lead to a lot of envy, jealousy and even hatred among people. For instance, you scolded your son because his mathematics test result is slightly worse than your friend’s daughter’s, your son then started to dislike your friend’s daughter.

Sometimes we compared too much until we forgot what is the most important thing in our life. We forgot what are the reasons that bring happiness to life. “Love of the family is life’s greatest blessing.” All the productions of Yasmin Ahmad are trying to send this message to everyone.

Yasmin Ahmad’s works are very precious because they make people realized that love is the greatest thing in life.

PS/ TopNotch is running a contest to giveaway Cold Storage Vouchers! Join it now at https://goo.gl/pafxXL

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