Tributes paid to Malaysian filmmaker Mamat Khalid, who has died

The director of the 'Rock' franchise and more beloved comedies has died aged 58

Malaysian filmmaker Mamat Khalid has died. He was 58 years old.

A report on Malay Mail Online via national news agency Bernama said the director died on Sunday (October 24) at the Slim River Hospital in the northern state of Perak.

News of Mamat’s death was confirmed by Hafiz Nafiah, the secretary-general of the Malaysian Artistes Association (Seniman), who said the director fell unconscious at an eatery that Mamat opened in 2016.

“He collapsed at the Sarang Art Hub cafe in Tanjung Malim before being taken to the Slim River Hospital, where he was confirmed dead,” Hafiz was quoted as saying.

The Ipoh-born Mamat, real name Mohamad Mohamad Khalid, was a screenwriter and film director who made comedies and family entertainment films. He is also the younger brother of popular comic artist Mohammad Nor Khalid, famously known as Lat. Mamat is survived by his wife Hasmah Hassan, and five children.

With a career spanning decades, Mamat is most known for films such as Rock (2005), which is about the fictional rock band Rimba Bara and their struggle to make it in the music industry of ’80s Malaysia. The movie, which was inspired by Mamat’s own experiences in the rock band Drop Out in the ’80s, spun off into a franchise with the sequels Rock Oo!, Rock Bro!, and Rock 4: Rockers Never Dai that were released from 2013 to 2020.

Other films he directed included Man Laksa, Kala Malam Bulan Mengambang (When the Full Moon Rises), Zombi Kampung Pisang (Zombies From Banana Village), Hantu Kak Limah Balik Rumah (The Ghost of Kak Limah Returns Home) and Apokalips X.

According to local daily Berita Harian, the cause of Mamat’s death is unknown but the late director is believed to have suffered a heart attack. His widow Hasmah said that he collapsed while playing keyboards during a live performance.

The National Film Development Corporation Malaysia (Finas), the government agency overseeing the film industry, has said it was ready to continue Mamat’s unfinished epic film Pasir Salak Pasir Berdarah (The Sand of Pasir Salak is the Sand of Blood), which had its scriptwriting process completed in 2017.

Finas chairman Zakaria Abdul Hamid told Kosmo! that the film had received funding from the government prior to Mamat’s death, and that work on it could continue as a “gift” to the late director if his son Mohd. Khaled Amen is willing to take up the mantle.

Tributes have poured in for the late director online, led by Mamat’s brother Mohammad Nor Khalid, the cartoonist Lat. “When he holds a guitar, it becomes a song. If he touches a piano, it becomes music. If he tells a story, everyone laughs. That was my brother,” he said, as reported by the New Straits Times.

Lat remembered his brother as a charismatic hard worker. “I believe he has achieved a lot and he was satisfied with his career. He was a hardworking person. Unlike me, I work alone, but for him, it’s like a whole village being present when he has a shoot. I believe he has achieved all of his dreams,” he said.

See other tributes to Mamat Khalid below: