Friday, May 25, 2007


India had Nadira. Singapore had Nadra.

Have you heard this name before?

Most people in this region know her as Bertha Hertogh or Maria Hertogh.

And there is a story behind this name which created a sordid chapter of history in this part of the world.

Now Ross Wallace of TODAY reports from Cannes that a film is in the works on her life story:

Deadly riots and the tension-filled true story of a teenage girl at the centre of conflict between East and West will soon be reenacted on the big screen in a movie that is to be partly shot in Singapore.

Co-produced by Singapore's Monsoon Pictures Pte Ltd and Dutch film company IdtV, Nadra tells of 13-year-old Dutch girl Bertha (or Maria) Hertogh, aka Nadra binte Maarof, the focus of a 1950 custody battle that became an international political and religious struggle.

The two companies signed an agreement on Wednesday on the sidelines of the ongoing Cannes Film Festival to make the US$6.5 million ($10 million) movie, directed by Dutch film-maker Ben Sombogaart and co-produced by Monsoon Pictures managing director Christopher Chew along with IdtV's Hanneke Niens and Anton Smit.

"Beyond being the story of a girl, it's really a story about clashing cultures — Christian and Muslim — so it's a very timely and relevant movie," said Chew at the signing ceremony. "More importantly, it's about people caught in the middle of a war between governments."

Born in 1937 to a Dutch family in Indonesia, the real-life Hertogh was given up for adoption by her mother during World War II after her father's capture by the Japanese.

Converted to Islam and given the name Nadra by her adoptive Malay mother, she drew attention at a sports meet eight years later and quickly made headlines around the world as "the Dutch girl raised as a Muslim in the jungles of Malaya".

Her birth family's subsequent battle to reclaim the girl in a Singapore court led to riots that left 18 people dead, around 200 injured and a rift between families and countries that would take decades to repair.


Ezri said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ezri said...

I have always thought he Maria Hertogh story and its backdrop could be made into a good movie.Personally, I can't wait to see it.

Kassim said...

It's good Natrah's life history be made into a movie. But the treatment of the story be fair to all, not one-sided as reported during the colonial days. Don't go about bashing Muslims! We Muslims are not anti-Christians as Chirstians are also people of the Book. The time has time for us to live and let live. What has happened in 1950 cannot be undone. May Natrah's soul find peace in heaven. Amen.

Kassim bin Abbas