Celebrating legends on stage

NOV 19 — It would have been easy to point out what could have been done better in Super Mokh The Musical.

For starters, the younger generation – who only know the late Datuk Mokhtar Dahari as a former international – could have been educated about his younger days and how he picked up the art of dribbling.

Many would want to know more about Setapak-born Mokhtar – just like the many who enjoyed learning about cartoonist Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid through Lat, the Musical.

I managed to watch Super Mokh at Istana Budaya on Friday night. Former international Reduan Abdullah and his family, who watched the show for the second time, were present and so was Mokhtar’s wife Tengku Zarina Tengku Ibrahim.

It was the same night Malaysia lost 1-0 to Bahrain in an Asian Cup qualifying match in Manama.

I was eager to see the life of my former SRK Jalan Kuantan senior played on stage. Mokhtar, the eldest son of lorry driver Dahari Abeng and Aminah Sharikan, was born on Nov 13, 1953. After leaving Jalan Kuantan, he completed his secondary education at Victoria Institution, KL.

He represented Selangor in the Burnley Cup (now known as the President’s Cup) when he was 18 and went on to play for the senior side before donning the national colours. Among his many achievements were scoring a brace against Arsenal in 1975 (Malaysia won 2-0), a goal against England B in 1978 (match ended 1-1) and he led Selangor against Boca Juniors, that featured Diego Maradona, in 1982. He was even named as one of the most feared strikers in Asia.

He died on July 11, 1991 due to motor neurone disease. He was 37.

Just like the fictional football match between Malaysia and South Korea during the play, the cast showed their true potential in the second half as Maya Karin, who played Tengku Zarina — accompanied by a montage of Mokhtar’s pictures — kicked a stellar performance in the dying minutes to score the winner.

I am to throw the critic hat.

SuperMokh was not just another musical. It was beyond Mokhtar. It paid tribute to our former legends, namely Reduan, Datuk Soh Chin Aun, Datuk Santokh Singh and the late Datuk R. Arumugam.

It celebrated football spectators as comedian Douglas Lim, who played fictional character Kenny, kept ‘fans’ in stitches with his antics.

More importantly, the play paid homage to Malaysian football.

And for that, Super Mokh scored full points.

Credit to those who made the musical possible, including patron Sultan of Selangor Sultan Sharifuddin Idris Shah.

With a ‘coaching’ staff led by directors Hans Isaac, Harith Iskander, executive producer Zahir Kelvin Ong, musical director Michael Veerapan and choreographer Adzwadi Sani, the team played well with the likes of Awie (as Mokhtar) upfront, Rashidi Ishak (Reduan) playing feeder, while Clarence Kuna (Santokh), Phoon Chi Ho (Soh) and Oliver Johanan (Arumugam) complemented each other at the back.

The play showcased unity among the players, despite race, colour and background. It highlighted how players then had to hold full-time jobs before heading to the training ground.

It revealed the element of bookies which lingers till today. It saw how the press and fans can be cruel in its criticism – only for the ‘players’ to push themselves to the next level. It injected a sense of pride and patriotism for the national team. 

It entered new territory where arts and sports joined forces. This will certainly attract more people to appreciate our local theatre scene.

Ironically, it showed how well we performed during the amateur days compared to our current state in the ‘professional’ era.

I want to return to Istana Budaya to watch another play honouring another legendary athlete.

And just like a critical journo, I challenge Isaac and crew to come up with an even better show to prove Super Mokh was not just another musical.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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