Myanmar Issue |

“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

All archival photographs courtesy the Myint Myint Khin Collection


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


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


Scene from the movie Aww Main Ma! (1951)


Movie poster of Phyay Hlawt Kway (1958)


Calendar art and commercial for Burma States cigarettes. 1959


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


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


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


Talking to her granddaughter about the film industry.


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



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


Myint Myint Khin says a morning prayer with incense sticks.