Don’t want to be beautiful, just be popular – Norlia Ghani

For more than five decades, this actor born in Klang, Selangor has enslaved himself in the art world. Norlia Ghani continues to contribute to the field of acting to this day.

He has appeared in 20 films, over 30 dramas and 22 telefilms. At the age of 74, Norlia is still given the strength and power to continue being an actress.

Due to his growing interest and desire, this actor is not ready to give up his acting career that has been built over five decades.

This foremost artist was born in Jalan Raya West, Klang, Selangor. He however grew up in Jalan Raja Uda, Klang around the 1960s.

A deep interest in the field of singing made Norlia often join bands of uniformed bodies such as the Navy and the Fire and Rescue Team.

A lot of his teenage years were spent fulfilling invitations to sing at parties and social events, including weddings.


“I never aspired to be an actor, instead I was more interested in being a singer.

“The former President of the Association of Country Singers, Musicians and Songwriters (Papita), the late Datuk M. Daud invited me to join the fire brigade band and sing for various events and functions.

“At that time, I was still ten years old. I received between RM5 and RM10 as a fee for singing at weddings and official events,” he said.

Norlia grew up in a simple family. His father is self-employed, while his mother is a primary school teacher.

“My parents are fierce. They raised me and my siblings with discipline and love. We are never influenced by immoral activities. Thank you for their strict upbringing,” he said again.


NORLIA did not expect that the victory in the beauty pageant held at the Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) building in the late 1960s opened the way for her to act.

Said Norlia, the victory led him to star in his first film, Kanchan Tirana which was shown in 1969.
“I represented Selangor in the competition. The jury at that time was a big name, including the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee, the late Tan Sri Jins Shamsuddin and Datuk Sarimah Ahmad.

“I was chosen as the winner, and was offered to attend an audition the next day.

“Rezeki didn’t have the wrong address, I passed the audition and was immediately asked to film in the afternoon. My partner at that time was Jins Shamsudin,” he shared.

Norlia admits that she was a bit clumsy when acting with powerful actors like Jins. Plus working under the direction of the Grand Artist, P. Ramlee.

“I don’t have the foundation of acting, just armed with courage. There is a feeling of shame.

“I’m a bit of a ‘village’. Not good at fashion or looking glamorous. However, P. Ramlee helped a lot and made me comfortable. We are good friends, in fact I received a lot of knowledge from him.

“However, there are not many opportunities to partner with P. Ramlee. We were paired in three or four films only. I pair up more with S. Kadarisman,” he shared.

Norlia described P. Ramlee as a gentleman loved by many. He said, the Great Artist often made others comfortable with his presence.

“P. Ramlee is liked by many. He understood that I was a new actor and had no experience. Arwah will joke and make anyone who acts under his direction comfortable until he loses his temper.

“The deceased is also friendly and patient. If the actor has trouble emoting the character, he will instruct the production team to stop filming and take a break. Give the actor time to get comfortable. Unlike some directors today who swear and are easily rude to actors.

“P. Ramlee is a good and special person. Diligent in giving charity and helping people in need,” he said.

Norlia added that P.Ramlee is like a brother to her. His departure to God in 1973 affected many people who were touched by his kindness

“When the deceased died, his house was filled with people of many nationalities who came to pay their last respects.

“The deceased is generous and always helps anyone who is in trouble regardless of race. Whatever he has, he will give,” he said.


TALKING about the anxious experience, Norlia said, the experience of being pulled by fans when performing at the Kelantan Palace around the 1980s was one of the most unforgettable.

“It happened when I extended my hand to the fans who wanted to shake hands from under the stage. Things took a turn for the worse when I was pulled and almost fell down.

“Fortunately at that time the late Tan Sri SM Salim and several other musicians managed to hold my hand. The situation at that time was very alarming,” he said.

Sharing sweet experiences, Norlia said, one of the ones that still sticks in her memory is when she performed in Brunei.

“It was very surprising when fans threw money when I sang on stage when I made an event in Tutong district a success.

“The fans there are generous. Some also give gold chains as a sign of appreciation,” he informed.


GENERATION that grew up around the 1980s is certainly synonymous with the drama Opah which was the original idea of ​​A. Wahid Nasir, directed by Zohara Gany Bathusha. Playing the role of Joyah, Norlia admitted that she was lucky enough to have the opportunity to be part of a drama that boosted her name as an actress.

“Opah is my first drama. The character of Joyah that I played brought me luck and made a big impact throughout my acting career.

“I have appeared in several films when I started acting from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. However, Joyah’s role in the drama boosted my name, thus introducing me to a larger group of fans. In fact, the people in the interior and village niches also know me because of that character.

“The impact of the character was so great that even now some still call me Joyah, especially the rural audience. I was fortunate to be chosen to star in the drama alongside other actors such as Zaiton Hussain, Khatijah Abu Hassan, Zami Ismail and many others,” he said.

According to Norlia, being involved in the drama that began to be produced in 1983 was the best experience throughout being an artist. He said, the close relationship built between all involved became a valuable experience that is carefully kept in his memory.

“The best. A production, from the filming crew to the actors, everyone is close like a big family. Even eat together, no one is discriminated against. Whether actors, directors, production crew, all are treated equally.

“What’s even sweeter, each actor in the drama will bring food and herbs to the others, like a pot luck. We were so close that time cannot be described in words,” he shared.


IN sharing her experience, Norlia had time to share advice. He said, actors now should not just sell their faces, but instead prove their talent.

“Not all, but many actors now just want to look beautiful all the time. As far as selling looks, not talent.

“In the old days, talent came first, while looks came second.

“An example is an actress like Ellie Suriaty. Give him any kind of character, he still brings it to life well. Actors now, don’t just want to be beautiful and popular,” he said.

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