The clip is from the 1955 movie Hang Tuah, which if memory serves me right was the first Malay film to be produced (or reproduced) in colour. Hang Tuah is the legendary Malay warrior renowned for his bravery and loyalty, and who to this day serves as the most potent icon of Malay culture. Perhaps the most famous chapter of his life, as illustrated in the Hikayat Hang Tuah (Chronicles of Hang Tuah) is the duel between Hang Tuah and his best friend and fellow warrior, Hang Jebat. Hang Tuah was falsely accused of having an illicit affair with one of the Sultan’s court maids. Sultan Mahmud Shah, the despot king whose impotent rule led to the eventual destruction of the illustrious Malaccan Empire by invading Portuguese forces, hastily sentenced Hang Tuah to death without trial. However, the death sentence was never carried out, because the executioner, who happens to be the Bendahara (Prime Minister) went against the Sultan’s orders and hid Hang Tuah in a remote area away from the threat of capture.
Hang Jebat, unaware of Hang Tuah’s lucky escape, went on a rampage in revolt at the unjust tyranny of Sultan Mahmud, to avenge the death of his best friend. Such was Hang Jebat’s warrior prowess that none could prevent his one-man rebellion, except for Hang Tuah himself. Scared and defenceless, the Sultan regretted his stupidity in ordering Hang Tuah’s execution. At this point, the Bendahara revealed to the Sultan that Hang Tuah was indeed still alive and he was ordered to return to Melaka to quell Hang Jebat’s raging amuk (one of the few Malay words to get into the English lexicon). After a fierce battle, purportedly lasting for 7 days, Hang Tuah fatally wounded Hang Jebat with his legendary kris Tamingsari. Til this day, the question of loyalty at the expense of justice continues to be the subject of heated debate among Malays (for my part, although I do not fault Hang Tuah, I go for justice before loyalty, especially if the authority in question is someone as tyrannical as Sultan Mahmud Shah).
Anyway, I’ve diverted completely off-topic. This just goes to show how deeply we Malays feel about this tragic duel between two best friends, 500 years or so after the event. In this clip – which is what this post is about, by the way – P. Ramlee as Hang Tuah has come from Melaka to Pahang, to ask for the Pahang princess Tun Teja’s hand to marry the Sultan of Melaka, even though she was already bethrothed to someone else. Hang Tuah is singing and dancing at his welcome feast, and Tun Teja, watching him from afar, falls in love with Hang Tuah at first sight. However, Hang Tuah’s undivided loyalty to the Sultan meant that he could not marry Tun Teja, and she would eventually marry the Sultan. In recent times this joget has been synonymous with Siti Nurhaliza, Malaysia’s most popular singer, who also happens to be a native of Pahang.
Melenggang hai melenggang Sway oh sway
Dengan tari lenggang With the swaying dance
Kalau baik hati If the heart is pure
Nanti orang pun sayang (x2) Then people will be fond of you (x2)
Dari Melaka ke negeri Pahang From Melaka to the state of Pahang
Singgah di Johor beli berangan (x2) Stopover at Johor to buy chestnuts (x2)
Kami mengucap selamatlah datang We wish you a-welcome
Harap yang kurang dicaci jangan (x2) Hope what is lacking is spared rebuke
Pukullah gendang kulit kerbau Beat the buffalo-skin drum
Dalam majlis tari menari (x2) Amidst the dance festivities (x2)
Saya seorang daganglah merantau For I am a wandering trader
Mengharap belas orang di sini (x2) Seeking kindness from the people here
Negeri Pahang aman sentosa The state of Pahang peaceful
Kaya dengan tumbuh-tumbuhan (x2) Abundant in greenery (x2)
Niatlah datang nak buatlah jasa ; The purpose of coming is to do good
Mudah-mudahan Tuhan kabulkan (x2) May it be granted by God