Dayang Sofia: Adding glamour to the silver screen

Rokiah Mahmud

With her debut role as Dayang Sapiah in the 1957 film Bujang Lapok, directed by the legendary Tan Sri P Ramlee, actress Dayang Chik binti Awang Rambli gained a lot of admiration from the public.

Popularly known as Dayang Sofia, her father Awang Rambli was born in Brunei, while her mother was from Sarawak.

Dayang Sofia was born in Miri, where her father, who worked as a customs officer, was transferred to. When her parents divorced, Dayang Sofia followed her mother to Sarawak, who later re-married and moved to Singapore.

Dayang Sofia worked as a secretary after completing her education. Her journey to stardom began when her friends offered her to meet then art director Mustafa Yassin for a screen test for an upcoming P Ramlee movie.

Passionate about acting, she took the opportunity. Her audition was a success and she acted alongside Aziz Satar.

This was her first step into the Malay film arena. Currently, Dayang Sofia has been in Brunei Darussalam for 40 years after marrying Pengiran Jamaluddin bin Pengiran Haji Yaakub.

Dayang Sofia during her teenage years. PHOTOS: BAHYIAH BAKIR
Dayang Sofia sharing her memories with the Bulletin

Living in Kampong Mata-Mata, during an interview with the Bulletin, Dayang Sofia said since her husband passed away due to cancer, she spends most of her time at home or going out with her niece. Recalling fond memories, she said artistes shared tips and advised each other about acting.

Asked what P Ramlee was like when she first met him, Dayang Sofia said everyone respected him. “P Ramlee was a great person and never scolded us. He advised us about acting,” she said. “P Ramlee was the one who gave me the name Dayang Sofia, taking after my role in Bujang Lapok.”

Dayang Sofia was active from 1957 to 1973, working under Malay Film Production and Cathay–Keris Film Production. She also worked with directors Jamil Sulong and Omar Rojik. Her most memorable role was as Aniin in Sayang Si Buta. Produced in 1965, it is a story about a blind woman who falls in love with her elder sister’s lover, Dr Rashid. The anger, arrogance and jealousy that she conveyed showcased her outstanding talent.

In total, she has acted in 16 movies, including: Bujang Lapok; Anak Pontianak; Megat Terawis; Panji Semerang; Seniman Bujang Lapok; Nasib Si Labu Labi; Pileh Menantu; Mambang Moden; Tiga Abdul; Sayang Si Buta; Pusaka Pontianak; and Satu Titik Di Garisan.

Asked which Malay movie actors and actresses are her favourite, Dayang Sofia named Jins Shamsuddin and Aziz Jaafar, while actresses are Hasyimah Yon and Dato Sarimah, the latter her best friend.

“We often got invitations to sing around Malaya (Malaysia) at that time. We also travelled to Kota Kinabalu, Sarawak, Brunei and Australia to perform. “We had contracts with the production and were paid monthly,” she added. “I was only acting in black and white movies. Hang Tuah was the only film produced in coloured pictures.”

For the younger generation interested in acting, Dayang Sofia advised them to commit in carrying out their roles. “Don’t do it half-heartedly. Express your soul in the character so that it will be more alive and not just static,” she said.

“The artistes have to gain more knowledge about making movies. They also need to ask those veterans about their experience. Do not be arrogant, be humble. Insya Allah people will appreciate your work.”