Inclusion |

“They Called Me Baby”

Ko Lin Maung

My grandmother, Myint Myint Khin (nicknamed Baby), was a famous actress in the 1950s and 60s and a five-time Myanmar Academy Awards winner. Growing up, I often heard about the life of cinema actors, the movie industry, anecdotes from behind the scenes and how she became a celebrity over time. It was a difficult time, as the country was going through numerous political upheavals, especially when the democratically elected civilian government of U Nu was overthrown by a coup d’etat led by General Ne Win in 1962.

However, the cinema industry seems to have thrived unabated for some time. One day, I chanced upon a photo album in her house. It was packed with rare movies stills, publicity

material and cinema memorabilia. I realized
the importance of documenting her archive in order to share it with a wider public, so that her personal collection could become a reference to the times – well beyond its value as a family collection, and a marker of sartorial trends, print culture and popular tastes.

What these photos also reveal are her teenage years, and her evolution into an icon,
a dashing young lady. These have been placed beside images from her daily life today. Though times have changed phenomenally over the last 6 decades, her spirit and her composure in the present remains that of her former self – marked by determination and a flair for acknowledging moments of her past life without any airs.

From the series They Called Me Baby Yangon, 2014
 Digital

All archival photographs courtesy the Myint Myint Khin Collection

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Photo session at home when the Miss Burma beauty pageant fashion was popular. Mid 1950s

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ID card of St. John Red Cross Society belonging to Myint Myint Khin.

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Scene from the movie Aww Main Ma! (1951)

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Movie poster of Phyay Hlawt Kway (1958)

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Calendar art and commercial for Burma States cigarettes. 1959

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Myint Myint Khin cleaning her wedding photo. The Academy Awards have pride of place in the living room.

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Scene from movie Phyay Hlawt Kway (1958) with actor Kyaw Swe.

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Scene from movie Chit Nyi Ma (1957) with actor Kyaw Phay.

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Talking to her granddaughter about the film industry.

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Myint Myint Khin with her husband (U Khin Maung Nyunt) and children (Tin Aye Myint, Khin Aye Myint, Aye Aye Myint, Swe Aye Myint) in their garden. Late 1960s/early 70s

 

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Studio shoot with her first two academy awards won from Chit Nyi Ma (1957) and Phyay Hlawt Kway (1958).

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Myint Myint Khin says a morning prayer with incense sticks.