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Composer and musician Datuk M. Nasir. Pix by Nur Adibah Ahmad Izam

KUALA LUMPUR: Friends of veteran actor Khalid Salleh have described his death as the loss of a ‘sifu’ in a class of his own.

Composer and musician Datuk M. Nasir said he was shocked to hear of Khalid’s death yesterday, and described him as a “national asset” who championed the performing arts until his last breath.

“I visited him two weeks ago in hospital. He was very ill, yet in good spirits and passionate about his craft. We have truly lost a great man of the arts,” said Nasir in a news report yesterday.

Veteran actress Fauziah Nawi regretted being unable to visit Khalid during his last days as she was on location in Pasir Putih, Kelantan, filming a television drama.

“I received the sad news of his death from friends. We had a great time working together in the Anak Alam theatre project some years ago. He was a gentleman and got along great with my family members, even buying tea for us,” she said.

Fauziah also said Khalid once starred in the play Opera Ayu Cendana which she directed and it was among her fondest memories of the actor.

Actress Fauziah Ahmad Daud, who co-starred with Khalid in the play Malam Haram said he was widely respected by all theatre practitioners, as well as film and TV actors.

“I’m honoured to have worked with him. He was one of our finest actors, but was sadly underrated, too. We ought to honour him accordingly.”

Actress Normah Damanhuri said Khalid was a good teacher to new actors, as he was a perfectionist who set high standards.

“He was generous in sharing his knowledge with young actors. I acted with him in the films Jogho and Kaki Bakar,” she said.

Normah Damanhuri. Pix by Nur Adibah Ahmad Izam

Actress Betty Banafe said Khalid was a “true man of the arts” who added quality, credibility and aesthetic value to all of his works.

“I had known him since I was a kid, and he did some artwork at my father’s shop,” she said, adding that they acted in Buai Laju-Laju.

“When he acted, his words, gestures and expressions penetrated the souls of audiences. Offstage, he was always humble, friendly and had a great sense of humour.”

Actor Tam Suhaimi who starred with Khalid in Kaki Bakar said the late actor possessed a large aura and motivated everybody who worked with him.

“I fondly remember how he spoke fluent Javanese on the set of Kaki Bakar. His words were so magnetic that I spent whole days on the set, even on the days where I didn’t have a scene with him.”

Khalid, 70, died at Ampang Puteri Specialist Hospital, Ampang yesterday.

In 1998, he won Best Actor award at the 43rd Asia-Pacific Film Festival in Taipei, Taiwan for his portrayal of Mamat, a bullfighter from Patani, southern Thailand in U-Wei Saari’s movie Jogho.

He became the second Malaysian actor to win the award after the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee.

Khalid last appeared on the silver screen in 2016 in U-Wei’s movie Hanyut, a film adapted from Joseph Conrad’s novel Almayer’s Folley.

In 2011, Khalid published a book - Melayu Hilang Di Dunia.

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