It’s sad when one of the very few prolific actors you have just passed away suddenly.
Ah Nan (John Cheng) was well known for playing the bad guy in locally produced movies which touched the social issues facing Singaporeans everyday. Movies like Money No Enough and I Not Stupid were some of the movies produced by local director Jack Neo which brought home heartwarming messages and at the same time touched a cord with the local people. Ah Nan, along with a few of the other usual actors in Jack Neo’s movies, never failed to make people laugh with his comedic acting. Despite his fierce look, you can tell he was really a nice guy, a softie according to his wife.
His checkered past tells of his struggle to make it in life. Neglected by parents who struggled to bring up 5 children, he turned to vice after getting into the wrong company of friends. He was a gangster and a loan shark runner before he took up acting and the roles he portrayed didn’t stray far from his past, acting as hooligan or any other thuggish characters that only he could portray convincingly. But of course, as with most of Jack’s movies, there are elements of comedy even in the most serious of themes and Ah Nan played a very adorable baddie best.
His compére skill on live stage during the Hungry Ghost Festivals and Lunar New Year celebrations (just to name a few) also made him a hit with the local Chinese community. I had the honor of being there last year at one of the many Hungry Ghost Festival getais (a boisterous live stage performance) he hosted and he gamely posed for my sister while taking a break. He had to pose twice since the first picture turned out blur but his good nature and my sister’s flirting skill got me what I wanted 😛
He passed on at the age of 52 (too young!) on 21 Jan 2013, survived by his wife and three daughters. RIP Ah Nan!