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Wedding of Syah Ibrahim & Ana Wahyuni

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Syah Ibrahim & Ana Wahyuni

I am currently suffering from a hangover from the weekend’s two grand wedding events involving two famous personalities, Syarif from local hiphop duo, SleeQ, and former radio deejay Syah Ibrahim. I believe, many of you would have viewed the photographs of both weddings via your social media timelines by now, from those who had attended or even yourself who might have witnessed it firsthand as guests. While I will be taking my time to edit the photographs I took during Syarif and Malaque‘s wedding, I will be sharing with you photographs I took during Syah Ibrahim and Ana Wahyuni‘s wedding first. This is because I did not take many shots and focused solely on the newlyweds rather than include photos of other personalities who attended the wedding event. In fact I did not take any photographs of the known personalities who had attended at all.

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The newlyweds taking the slow walk to the wedding dais…

There are several reasons why I did not include photographs of known personalities who had attended. Firstly, the venue (Singapore Recreation Club @ The Padang) was huge!!! The tentage spanned from one width of the Padang to the other. Indeed, I struggle to think which was the last known local personality who had a wedding this grand and huge, accomodating to more than 6000 guests. I think the last one was Fandi Ahmad and Wendy Jacobs‘ back in 1996. It was almost impossible to drift from one end of the tentage to the other just to snap photos of known guests. Just covering from when the newlyweds arrived down to their wedding dais made me drenched in perspiration. Add on to the pandemonium and chaotic situation where the guests clamoured forward to get a good look at the newlyweds and congratulating them, it was just madness where everyone jostled and the Orange Event staff (of which Syah Ibrahim is the CEO) had to be stern in pushing the crowd back.

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For me and I believe, the other guests as well, the highlight of the wedding event had to be when one of Syah‘s nephews,  Syed Tahir Bin Syed Najeeb Al Taher, a boy who looked no more than five or six years of age came onstage to recite a lengthy prayer supplication for the newlyweds. It left us all in awe and it made the groom very emotional and unashamedly shed tears. Looking at the way he has been brought up with such good guidance and the potential he showed, the boy will grow up to be a very fine young man, God willing. My missus had already noted afterwards that if we were to have a boy in future, God willing, she wants our son to replicate this boy as he is a very good example. As what we like to say in our native language, “Sejuk perut mak dia…:)

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Even Ustaz Mohd Noor Tijany (holding handphone) was in awe of Syed Tahir

To bro Syah Ibrahim, thank you for inviting us to your wedding. It was indeed a grand affair and one which all your loyal followers and friends had been waiting for for many years. Thank you for not forgetting all of us and even welcomed the public to join in your memorable occasion. We wish you and sis Ana Wahyuni a blessed and blissful marriage, always full of love and happiness. I am not that good with sharing marriage advices, but I think the best and most witty advice I heard yesterday came from bro Adi Rahman when he shared, “In a marriage relationship, happiness comes when the woman is winning the argument…” Well something to that effect, which is true in a lot of respects… :)

#theSyarifs’ Photo Teasers

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I foresee a spike in my blog statistics. This happens whenever there is a celebrity wedding happening here in Singapore. In fact, I’ve already seen my stats jumped over the past week, mostly searching for wedding photos of former radio personality Syah Ibrahim and his wife Ana Mahyuni. As his solemnisation and wedding was held in Jakarta, it was impossible for me to provide photos of the event. But fret not, cos I am invited to his wedding tomorrow, so I hope to share some photos of the wedding with you soon.

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Anyway, I just came back from the solemnisation ceremony and wedding of SleeQ‘s Ahmad Syarifullah Ahmad Soribah (Syarif) and former Singapore Idol 2009 alumnus Syarifah Malak Aimana (Malaque Mahdaly). Since I have another wedding to attend after this and the wedding dinner event of the newlyweds to look forward to later this evening, I will just share with you these two photographs of the newlyweds for now to whet your appetite. I will be updating this blog with more photos in the coming days ahead. So do visit from time to time to see my latest updates ya??? :)

LakiBini 2.0 Review

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I seldom watch theatre plays. I think if I can measure the rate I watch theatre shows, I can safely say that it is perhaps a once-a-year thingy for me. In fact I did not have any plans whatsoever to post a review on this show that I attended on 3rd October 2014 at the Black Box Studio of Goodman Arts Centre. Longtime readers of this blog would note how uncomfortable I am at doing reviews of this nature and that I am perhaps the worst at reviewing theatre plays for the fact that I do not have any acting or theatre background to begin with. At least when I review music performances, shows or concerts, I have an inkling of what I am typing about as I have some experience being a keen observer, stagehand, volunteer and even a performer at some point in my life. This entry is published since I was kindly approached by the director and playwright himself, Izad Omar, to do one as there was not much post-show publicity nor reviews other than the one that was published on Berita Harian a fortnight ago.

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I heard about this show, produced by local theatre company KreatiV OutBox, back in April 2014 when I was covering the TeRaSeh 2.0 competition, during the week that Den Sabari, one of the show’s main casts, and his wife Huda Ali were the studio guests at Warna 94.2FM during the post-show interview with the “Malam 2 Mat” hosts, Hafeez Glamour and Dyn Norahim. Since I count Den as one of my good friends, I made the effort to block the dates of the play six months in advance so I could catch it when the time comes. Den admitted during the months leading up to the show, how excited, yet nervous he was at the thought of making his theatre comeback after more than five years away from the live stage. A lot of effort, practices and rehearsals were done just to get things right and there were times Den had to sacrifice his social time to play football with our Seniman FC team just for this play.

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For a first-timer on a live stage, I thought Ainon Talib did extremely well juggling the different emotions that her character had to exude and display. One moment she was laughing and cracking jokes, the next she was angry and subsequently shedding tears. I have so much respect for performers who could switch emotions with a snap of the fingers and Ainon‘s character, Ira, demanded her to do just that. I strongly believe this experience would empower her and improve on her acting on television, though of course there is always room for improvement on stage. Den Sabari, who played Zali on the other hand, had a bit of nervousness in him, but I kind of attributed it to pressure knowing a few of his close friends were seated in the audience. And of course, there is that issue of rustiness of not performing a stage play in years, but personally I felt it wasn’t that glaring to the common folk like myself. Maybe theatre experts who caught the play could relate better.

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However, the star of the show to me had to be Fariz Najed who played the effeminate BFF to Ainon‘s character. I felt his role, even though it was a supporting one, was the most crucial and important, in that he helped to link and added balance to the two main casts, the glue that held everything together. He was so likeable as the angsty best friend who not only found himself ostracised by his own family but also always at odds with the character played by Den Sabari himself. In a way, his role demanded the audience to understand from his perspective. His role and problems faced are common amongst men who are considered soft or effeminate, as they are often looked down by the community and seek acceptance for who they are. Fariz aced his role and gave us plenty of food for thought with his acting delivery.

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As a normal-paying audience, not too concerned with technicalities of theatre play, I was there to be entertained. What I got from that 90-minutes show was not just mere entertainment, I left the Black Box Studio with a gamut of emotions from what I had witnessed throughout the play. The show highlighted common problems faced by many married couples, the real dilemmas faced as a young couple right down to their ageing years. What I like most about the play was, it was done in a light-hearted manner, without being too deep with the issues being discussed and some of the issues raised strike a chord with what we sometimes face in the course of our marriage. There were also several digs being made towards social / cultural practices which might contradict our Islamic beliefs without being too direct nor overly critical. For theatre novices like myself, this was an enjoyable play and I certainly did not feel the time passing by. The downside and only complaint I might have is how cold the venue was, even after two of the air-con units had been turned off, from what I understand from Izad himself. Other than that it was a very good production by KreatiV OutBox. Kudos!!!

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(All photographs courtesy of KreatiV OutBox)

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2014 Review

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It’s been three weeks since Anugerah Planet Muzik 2014 (APM2014) was held at Suntec City Convention Centre on 17 October 2014, but the memories of the prestigious awards night are still fresh in my mind. I cannot guarantee if I will blog as lengthily as what everyone has been used to reading when it comes to my annual APM reviews, simply because on the surface, I doubt I have much to dissect and analyse this time round. But you’ll never know, since I have this tendency to blabber, make sidenotes and references that would eventually veer me off-course. But that’s the beauty of this blog, other than the many photographs that everyone loves to come in and see. I just wish I can make this a full-time career, but is there a proper industry here in Singapore to begin with??? :)

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The right choice for the opening performance, Taufik Batisah with his current hit “#Awakkatmane“…

In years past, I would normally take the trouble and effort to read the reactions of the general audience and see their comments on social media. Not this year, as I did not wish to concern myself with the “Macam Faham” keyboard warriors. These people will always be there on social media, ever ready whenever there is an event on television, quick to comment on things that are trivial and out of their understanding, but still feel the need and urge to comment when they know nuts what is going on behind-the-scenes or understanding reasons behind certain shortcomings. But I believe this year’s event had few controversial incidents (more on that!!!) or arguable award recipients as in previous years. Congratulations to the organisers as APM2014 was the top trending topic on Twitter worldwide that night!!!

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Yacko, Joe Flizzow and Sheikh Haikel continued where Taufik left off…

I had extremely good vibes about APM2014 days before the event, for the sole reason, this was (and if my memory still serves me well), the first in its thirteen editions, that it witnessed a sell-out crowd. Between 2001-2005 I remembered APM being close to a full house, but there were still empty pockets here and there. I attributed the presence of legendary Malaysian rock group WINGS and seeing Ariel of NOAH after his well-documented legal struggles, as the two main factors that pulled in the audience this year. In the past, we might have had household names like Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza and Taufik Batisah to help entice the crowd to attend, but still their presence were not enough, even if they continue to receive the biggest cheers every time they appear on stage. This time, I’m sure it felt like a major coup to have two of the biggest bands in the regional Nusantara music scene to grace the APM stage. This was the first time WINGS made an appearance at the awards show and the first time Ariel appeared since Peterpan performed at APM2005.

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Hosts for the night – Dyn Norahim, Sarah Sechan and Nabil Ahmad

But the sell-out audience was also a major factor in me stopping short of saying this was the best APM in years. Yes the event itself, in terms of performances and overall production, is probably up there amongst the best and most enjoyable ones in its thirteen years of existence, but the atmosphere was close to dead from my humble observations. Other than Taufik Batisah‘s opening performance or whenever he appeared onstage either to receive his three awards or presented with Najwa Mahiaddin, the only times the crowd came alive were when Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, NOAH and WINGS made appearances. The atmosphere during the rest of the other performances or award presentations felt like a morgue, or at the very least, just courtesy applause heard. At times, one could just hear a pin drop. That was how bad the atmosphere was and I had to turn around a couple of times to see whether it was really a sell-out audience or not.

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A common feature of APM – Performances by artistes from the three countries together onstage – Maria Calista, Mafarikha Akhir and Aisyah Aziz

I expected a bit more vigour and pride from the audience, when our local artistes who were nominated in the regional categories, had their names announced as the nominees. Or when the likes of Aisyah Aziz, Sufie Rashid, Sezairi and Sheikh Haikel performed. But it was just dead, with little to no positive reaction, save perhaps when Sufie Rashid won his award for Lagu Terbaik Singapura (Best Singapore Song). I wondered aloud that night, aren’t we proud to see our own acts stand toe to toe with the region’s best??? I was seething throughout the night at the thought and somehow when I’m typing this and recalling again, I feel that sense of anger returning. Last year, we had a party atmosphere with fans bringing drums and percussions, even when it was not a full house. It was just a big pity the same fans were not around to hype the audience. Or perhaps told not to bring their instruments into the event venue. But even if they were not allowed to, I’m sure they would still be in full voice.

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The cool cat, Sezairi, performed his nominated single “Sayang“…

This year, there was a change in hosts from Singapore and Malaysia. Dyn Norahim (and not Ibrahim. Astro & MeleTOP please take note!!!) from Warna 94.2FM and Ahmad Nabil Ahmad, the winner of the second season of Malaysia‘s Raja Lawak reality competition took over the microphone duties alongside APM veteran Sarah Sechan. Indeed this was Dyn Norahim‘s first big break hosting an event of this magnitude, where the region’s eyes were on him. He admitted to having a lot of jitters before the show, in awe of his two colleagues whom he felt were more prolific in their crafts as hosts and extremely quick on the draw to butt in when he fluffed his lines during rehearsals. But I told him not to be overawed by the occasion and he would do just fine. Most importantly, I reminded him not to go overboard with some of his jokes, and overall I think he did extremely well without trying too hard.

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Sultry Najwa Mahiaddin serenaded the audience with “Impian Terindah“…

While I’ve heard of many negative feedbacks about Dyn Norahim‘s performance that night, mostly from the online brickbats, I thought he did not do much wrong for a newbie on the APM stage. Local radio listeners would have been disappointed not to have witnessed Dyn‘s alter-egos Abang J and Mr. Wong, or that he might not have matched Nabil‘s wacky personality, but there needed to be a certain balance with all three hosts complementing one another, rather than hogging or competing for the limelight. Dyn is outgoing and comical in his own way and did not need to match Nabil pound for pound in the wacky stakes. Nabil‘s butting in at several award presentations and chiming in with wisecracks when others were presenting, were either welcomed or a source of irritation, depending on how you tolerate his style. Just that I was a bit uncomfortable when he made a joke about plane crashes in this very same year his own country suffered two tragedies of that nature. I was expecting some backlash from his countrymen about it, but thankfully I’ve heard none of it till today.

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Loved Tulus‘ humble speech when he won his award for Artis Baru Terbaik (Lelaki) / Best New Male Artiste

Speaking of backlash and the earlier mention of controversies that arose from this year’s edition, poor Dzar Ismail was targeted by the Indonesians on Twitter for unwittingly using the term “Indon” to refer to the “Indonesians” when he presented with Hanis Zalikha. For those who do not know, the term “Indon” is derogatory to the Indonesians. It is either a racial slur or a negative connotation to describe them. But I know Dzar Ismail did not mean it the way the Indonesians had slagged him off for it. For one, the term is used here in Singapore as a shortened name for Indonesia / Indonesians. Most, if not all of us, even Malaysians, use it as a shortened word of convenience, and not to degrade or look down at our neighbours. Even the Indonesians living here in Singapore refer to themselves as “Indon“, so I was a bit surprised at the amount of abuse being directed towards Dzar Ismail. Our own Berita Harian congratulated their new President by using the same term as their front page headlines recently. So really, it’s a matter of cultural misunderstanding. It would be nice however, to take note, not to use it during such events where we are interacting with Indonesian audience, out of basic respect and courtesy. It’s like the N-word where it is ok for the Negros and blacks to use it amongst themselves, but not us.

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Dato’ Rossa and Taufik Batisah‘s onstage chemistry was intense and passionate to say the least…

I don’t think there are any major grievances pertaining to all the award winners. Previously, our regional neighbours were up in arms when any Singaporean artistes were to walk away with the popular regional award categories, but the winners this year (“Dia Dia Dia” – Fatin Shidqia Lubis and NOAH) somehow could have been justified in their eyes. I might not hear or perhaps been oblivious if there are any objections towards Taufik Batisah winning the Ikon Media Sosial (Social Media Icon) award. This is a guy who has timed his return to perfection and launched his latest album at the right moment, a month before APM2014. With his viral videos with the hashtag “#awakkatmane” making its rounds since Ramadhan and resulting in countless number of parodies being made, it was a no brainer. Rightly so that such an award conferred to him reflected his influence. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Taufik on getting more than a million views on YouTube for his latest music video “#Awakkatmane” within three weeks of uploading it, and also for the hashtag to be the top trending topic on YouTube Malaysia.

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One of the top draws of the night, Ariel and NOAH

Such popularity comes with the caveat of having haters as well. You either like the “#Awakkatmane” song, or you do not. Personally I love it, in fact I need to listen to it daily as a form of perk-me-up. However, linguistic “Nazis” like myself however have a little grouse with regards to its title, where “mana” is spelt as “mane“. Releasing it in the middle of our national Malay Language Month, where speaking good Malay is encouraged, also felt a little odd but I know for one that Taufik meant no disrespect whatsoever. By adding that hashtag at the beginning of the title meant, he probably was taking a dig at those who love to misspell or spell out of convenience in social media or online messaging. Nonetheless, I am so hoping and wishing that with this new album launch, his viral clips and music video as well as his collaboration with the likes of Altimet in his new album and two of his songs being chosen as the soundtracks for drama series shown in Malaysia, it will finally be the big break that has eluded him all these years. Ten years in the scene, it is high time he becomes a household name across our shores. Sidenote, the voice of the lady in that hit song does not belong to Fiza O. Wonder how some people came to such a conclusion when the voice tones of both ladies are different.

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Odd to see Judika attending APM without his wife Duma Riris, but congratulations to them on the birth of their firstborn, Cleo Deora Boru Sihotang

I was and still am elated over the awards won by Awi Rafael for his collaboration with Altimet for “Kalau Aku Kaya” (Kolaborasi TerbaikArtis / Best Artiste Collaboration), as well as those won by Aisyah Aziz for “Mimpi” (Kolaborasi TerbaikLagu / Best Song Collaboration) and Sufie Rashid for “Tiada Pengganti” (Lagu Terbaik SingapuraBest Singapore Song). I did say last year that I would not at all be surprised if “Kalau Aku Kaya” were to be nominated in at least the Duo / Kumpulan Terbaik (Best Duo / Group) or Kolaborasi Terbaik (Best Collaboration) categories. I stopped short of saying the song or collaboration would win outright last year, for the fact that I had yet to listen to newer songs from other artistes, but if I had the choice to award them for it, I would have given it to them last year. However, my hunch came true this time and I thought it was a satisfying reward earned by two artistes whom I have so much respect for in the regional music scene.

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One of my favourite photos of the night – Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza belting “Jaga Dia Untukku“…

If there is an award for “Most Improved Performer” over the past year, I would give it to Sufie Rashid in a heartbeat. He has grown so much since his first forays in the scene, joining the various reality talent competitions on television, only to falter in the earlier stages. He was one of the guest performers during last year’s APM2013 Media Conference, along with Yaya Hamid, but he did not impress me at all that day. He was a bag of nerves and had pitching issues when he sang. In short, I was cringing when I watched him. I remembered Aura Shai asking me to upload a full video of his performance that day but I chose not to, cos I did not want viewers to slate him or subject him to abuse from online brickbats. But I know and can see that he has taken great pains to improve himself over the past year. Most importantly, he has gained so much confidence onstage thanks to his involvement in the recent SG Mania competition on Mediacorp Suria.

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Judika and Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza teased a possible collaboration when they presented at last year’s APM and called themselves “Ju-Si“. This year it became a reality when they sang “Apakah Ini Cinta“…

SG Mania, I felt, was the making of Sufie Rashid. Where once he had confidence issues, he is now a fearless performer onstage. His performance during APM2014 made my hairs stood and I was happy for him that he was not overawed when paired with the likes of Hazama and Cakra Khan. He told me afterwards how he was worried that he might have upstaged the other two when he went for the high notes. I for one, was afraid his voice would crack as a result, but he pulled it off much to the audience’s approval, judging by their whoops and cheers. Credits also go out to members of The SallysShafiq Iskandar, Izwan Khuzair and Rusdi Badri for composing “Tiada Pengganti“. This is an under-rated local band that has produced quite a number of radio-friendly hits. But my personal favourite from their collection of songs till this day is still “Gadis Marmalade“. Like my blog, the band recently celebrated their tenth year of existence this year.

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The fearless performer, Sufie Rashid

I enjoyed all the performances that night from the start right till the end. In fact, I did not feel the time passing by till the voiceover announcement informed that Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, Dato’ Rossa and Aisyah Aziz were up next, indicating the second last performance of the night (I had the benefit of knowing who was performing in order of performances and songs thanks to the media press kit given to us). Slowly but surely, the organising team have begun to master the art of keeping things compact within a two-and-a-half hour timeframe. The commercial breaks were short, between three to four minutes, and most people who went to relieve themselves or went out for a quick smoke break ended up returning to their seats during the following commercial breaks or rushing back when the live cameras were rolling. Where previously the event felt like a drag, I have seen a lot of improvement in this area over the past two to three years.

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Cakra Khan, Sufie Rashid and Hazama paying tribute to Sweet Charity with “Kamelia”…

I have been waxing lyrical all along other than making my unhappiness felt towards the audience for not being supportive enough. But of course I have other few niggly issues which I feel the need to voice out and hopefully improve future APM events. I already stated in my “Walk of the Stars” entry that not many artistes walked onstage to be introduced to the audience and how it would be nice for the audience to see our very own local acts be introduced to them. I also overheard and observed how the local artistes had to enter through the same doors and walked along the same route as the other audience. Though it would be nice to see them enter the event venue through another route as a mark of exclusivity accorded to artistes, I believe logistical issues were probably why they had to enter through the same way as the general audience or the fact that they were not mobbed could have been another factor why they entered the same way as the rest.

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Another one of my favourite shots of the night, this time with Dato’ Rossa

Logistical issue was also another factor why there was no post-event reception after APM ended last year. I was pleased that at least there was one this time round. Where some might complain about having to make do with light / finger food not befitting of such a prestigious event, I personally feel that beggars cannot be choosers. It was gracious and kind enough for the organisers to provide a place where artistes could do a bit of networking with industry players and fill their stomachs a bit before going for supper with friends elsewhere. Cos I’m sure a lot of artistes when they meet friends and such, they would want to adjourn to another place to continue their conversations. Fathin Amira Zubir was the busiest from my observations of the goings-on during the post-event reception, handing over her single CDSebenarnya” to various artistes and people from the music industry. I should have asked one from her, never mind if I had to pay for it, cos I always do my bit to purchase products from our local acts, rather than expect freebies or complimentary copies.

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APM promotes friendship and warmth between artistes from the three countries. This photograph is one fine example.

Before the event and after looking at its graphics poster, I noted on my Facebook status that there was a bit of lopsidedness in terms of female performers and bands if one were to compare those in Singapore to our regional counterparts. Malaysia and Indonesia each had a band representative and more than one female performer than us who only had Aisyah Aziz to be proud of. I had called upon the organisers to balance the odds and add an additional female performer and band, cos seriously after watching Konsert Siti Nurhaliza Live back in March as well as SG Mania and Singa Maksima Live prior to APM2014, I felt the likes of Fathin Amira Zubir, Sarah Aqilah, Farisha Ishak and Tujuhband at least deserved to represent us and performed that night. I was absolutely sure they would not disappoint us on the big stage. At the same time I was not expecting much given the nineteen awards that were presented and the already stellar-cast on show having to fit into a compact timeframe of two-and-a-half hours.

APM2014 2014-10-17 3771 Loved this tribute segment for three Divas who recently passed on, Dato’ Sharifah Aini, Diana Nasution and Kartina Dahari…

I just hope for future APMs, more of such acts would be showcased cos we do not have a dearth of talent in our local pool, but it is sometimes a question of us having confidence if they would deliver or not. Somehow I have been observing over the years that our local bands do not get much exposure on television as compared to individual artistes. Most variety or charity shows on Suria do not feature our local bands as much as we would like them to. We know they have composed and churned out radio hits, some even topping the charts for weeks, but relatively, I dare say most of them are an unknown quantity to the masses. I wonder if it is a case of budgeting (cheaper to pay a solo singer as compared to a group / band) or show producers do not have confidence on the abilities and capabilities of our local bands. When was the last time we saw the likes of Diorama, The Sallys, Tujuhband, Aryan Band, Kraton, Klutz etc. on television??? It’s either been a long time or none at all!!! I hope the next edition of SG Mania would feature bands instead of individual singers. Cos really our bands deserve a platform to showcase their talents to the masses.

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Oddly enough, the hosts only appeared onstage together twice throughout the whole show…

But speaking of our local bands and I hope they don’t kill me after this for saying this, I noticed a lot of them were too quick to get up from their seats that night during the commercial breaks to go for smoke breaks. I’m not a smoker and I cannot understand this addiction for nicotine, but surely some of them could have limited themselves to one break or none at all over the course of the whole event. Cos it didn’t look nice (since the event was also attended by dignitaries, people from the industry, sponsors and foreign guests sitting near the front rows where they were seated) that our local artistes were more interested in having a puff than watching the awards show. There were times during the show where they were all seen rushing back to their seats, some smelling from their cigarette smells which was and is a major turn-off.

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Awie still packs a punch onstage and remains one of the best performers with his showmanship…

Respect in many ways, deeds and creeds, I believe goes two ways. If you want the bigwigs to sit up, take notice of your talents and feature you in future, you need to show a bit of respect towards yourselves and the event you’re at, cos there are many other observant eyes around us besides myself. It might be trivial, but little things sometimes might be used as a cause against you. And I personally wouldn’t want that to hinder their progress or possible exposure to the masses. I can only dispense advice from a perspective of an observer who has seen and heard grouses from people from the industry. At times I become the Agony Aunt to some of our local acts and listen to some of the problems they face. But I do not have the answers to everything, but where I can help, I’ll try to. This is one aspect I noticed and feel the need to voice out for them to improve on their image and standing as talents and acts to be given due respect.

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WINGS closed the proceedings with an energetic medley of their current and past hits…

I finally come to my last paragraph. So much for saying at the start that I won’t make this a lengthy entry. I wanted to share more anecdotes and problems faced behind-the-scenes, but I guess I won’t because some things are best left unsaid to protect the dignity of others and the event as a whole. Some backstage politicking should remain between the relevant parties and not one for me to stick my nose into. I was there at the awards show to be entertained and to meet friends in the scene. I was sufficiently satisfied by what I saw onstage and contented with what I had off it, which made me feel that this was one of the most enjoyable APM events I had attended. I hope the next time APM is organised, Suntec City Convention Centre would continue to be the event venue. Congratulations once again to all the award winners and to the organising team from Mediacorp Malay Broadcast Division for a job well done!!!

Snapshots of APM2014

Banting Film Premiere

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(Graphics poster courtesy of Papahan Films)

Ok I know I promised you in the last entry that my next one would be my review on Anugerah Planet Muzik 2014. However, after attending the film premiere of Banting (or Slam! in English) this past Friday 24th October 2014 at the The Grand Cathay Cineplex, I have decided to prolong your wait for quite a bit as this movie takes precedence. Editing photographs I took the other night, which were less than a hundred, is much easier than going through 3500-odd photographs to be included in my entry. Hence you can regard this as sort of a filler entry before I speak about APM2014 again. Anyway I would first and foremost like to thank Papahan Films, especially Ms. Nurazleena Ramli, the person in-charge of the film’s publicity, for the kind invitation. In my ten years of entertainment blogging, this was indeed my first film premiere invite and I was honoured to attend with the missus.

So what is Banting all about??? Well, I will be paraphrasing this paragraph and the next, since I’m taking them out from what has been typed in its official website (Credits to Papahan Films). The film tells a story of a twenty-four year old Yasmin Muhammad (played by the likeable Izyan Mellyna) who barely has the most exciting life, with a strict mother and religious upbringing. Yasmin is also sick when she’s being judged all the time for wearing a Hijab or sees discrimination upon women who don it. She wonders if a Hijab girl will ever be able to do what most normal girls can do. Things change when Yasmin chances upon a professional wrestling gym and does the unthinkable: she secretly signs up as a wrestler!!! Soon, Yasmin is trading her Hijab for a mask and her awkwardness with unbridled high-flying moves as she becomes her alter-ego, the fearsome Zarith Blade!!! (The name Zarith is I believe, a tribute to director M. Raihan Halim‘s wife, Zarith Sofia

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The film cast and director seen here being photographed with guest-of-honour, Minister for Communications & Information, Mr. Yaacob Ibrahim

But “laying the smackdown” on people is not what Yasmin is meant to do in life. At least not according to her conservative and very strict mother, Halimah (played by the respected Mastura Ahmad). Yasmin hides her new passion from Halimah and for good reason. Halimah’s idea of having her good Muslim daughter clashes with the life of a professional wrestler clothes-lining and slamming people before a cheering crowd. Things take a precarious turn when Yasmin’s secret double life is threatened to be exposed. And Yasmin finds herself in her most important match ever: wrestling (a.k.a. convincing) her mother to give her the chance to keep her dream alive!!! Will she succeed??? Well, I will not divulge or give you any spoilers as the only way to find out is to watch the movie.

Honest-to-goodness, I am not good at reviewing movies. I’m also the kind who will pay scant respect to movie reviews unless I’m really sceptical of its storyline and need to read first before investing my money to watch it. So my views here might differ from those who watch movies looking at technical aspects and nitty-gritty details. As a watching audience, I want to be entertained, to have a feel-good factor even after the rolling credits are done and to smile just reminiscing about the movie. Banting ticked all three boxes in my list. I am also sure the rest who attended the film premiere, which was by the way, resembled a mini Pesta Perdana event with so many personalities in the local Malay entertainment scene in attendance, walked away with smiles on their faces and encouraging words being heard exchanged between them outside the theatre.

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It’s a wrestling movie, so a bit of fierceness being shown here by the film cast, producer and director along with Minister Yaacob Ibrahim

Banting in all honesty after watching it, is so close to my heart. I grew up watching wrestling, had great wrestling matches at the high jump mattress at Serangoon JC with my friends when we were in secondary school. I also used to wrestle my cousins on our respective beds and till now I still do practise some of the safer moves with my daughters and nephews. Up till this day, I religiously read the weekly World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) RAW reports just to keep up with what is happening in the WWE. We all know the storylines and moves in wrestling are fake, even Banting revealed a bit of that, but it keeps us entertained, like a soap opera, willing the good guys on and wishing the bad guys would just shut up and lose. Banting tried to create that and the wrestling fanboy in me was suitably impressed to an extent.

I take my hat off to the wrestling girls played by Gloria Tan, Abigail Chay, Syaza Qistina Tan, Ashley Erianah and Joanne-Marie Sim, besides Izyan Mellyna of course. Wrestling is not easy for ladies and I sometimes detect how difficult it is, even for the professional ones in WWE to execute some of their moves. They did try to create a convincing outlook in their matches and some of the moves did look great and believable. The person or persons who trained them can take heart that these girls did their utmost best and done well. Not easy to look pretty and having to suffer bumps, cuts and bruises in the process. I’m sure during the course of filming, the girls have taken slight knocks and injuries from botching their moves, but this is all part and parcel of filming, especially action scenes.

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Another “garang” pose, this time with the film poster backdrop in the background…

Other than the wrestling aspect of the movie, the film resonates with me because of the life being led by the lead character herself and her sister Nissa (played by Adlina Adil). Like the movie, I have two young daughters myself and it has probably given me an advanced glimpse of what the future might be in for me when they eventually grow up and be young women with their own dreams and aspirations. They will have their own interests and likes which will differ to or contrast with what we want or expect from them. We are also living in a generation where everything needs to be explained with logic and rationale, without being too strict and hard-handed, lest the kids will turn rebellious and lie at the first available opportunity. During our parents’ time, a raised eyebrow, a wave of the cane, a slight raise in tone of voice, a wag of the finger and a simple “No!!!” usually would do the trick. Now no more. And what’s more, I see some of the character traits of Yasmin (the younger daughter in the movie) similar to that of my younger one – Steely, determined, fiesty, independent and strong-willed.

A good movie needs to have a good balance in how the actors bounce off each other. I see a lot of that in this movie, from the leads right down to the supporting cast. I just find the Atok character played by legendary actor Osman Zailani, very endearing. It even made me miss my own late grandfather who defended me at the slightest opportunity when my father would flare up with me when I was younger. As for Fauzie Laily who plays Yasmin‘s BFF, Zaidy, words cannot describe how proud I am for my old friend at his achievement on becoming a film star. He brought his A-game in this movie and he has improved so much since his first stab at acting in “Teman Anugerahku” back in 2005. Watching him in the movie is just like knowing him in real life. The characters in reel and real life are just too similar, the jokes and teasings, as well as the sound advices, are what I have been accustomed to from knowing Fauzie since he was still the scrawny teen from Temasek Polytechnic. Oh by the way, I like that Fauzie looked a bit chubby in this movie. Hahaha…

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The lead actors in Banting: Fauzie Laily, Adlina Adil, Izyan Mellyna and Mastura Ahmad

While I do not need to wax lyrical on the likes of Mastura Ahmad and Adlina Adil, because we know what accomplished actresses they are both on television and theatre, I feel that as a relatively newbie in the scene, Izyan Mellyna has all the attributes to be Singapore‘s very own Sharifah Amani. I cannot describe in words why I feel this way, but if there is a reference point I can compare her to, then Sharifah Amani is the one. Ok I used the word “newbie”, but really Izyan is already an experienced hand in the scene having been a child star during the days of “Ya Alif” and also has theatre background. It’s just that television viewers have been warming up to her since the start of 2014 when Walimah, followed by TeRaSeh! 2.0, Di Luar Garisan 2 and Walimah 2 came along. Along with Nurfarhana M. Noor, Izyan Mellyna is the name and talent to watch in our local Malay entertainment scene. See them soar and progress over the years, they will only get better.

Banting, is not just your typical light-hearted comedy. It brings with it moments of anxiety, also tugs a bit on our emotions (yes some people I know cried at some of the scenes :P). Above all, it feels very Singaporean and relates so much to the average Malay family here, the challenges we face as a society, as individuals, having to chase our dreams and having to appease our older folks in matters sometimes beyond our comprehension or will. Then there are the conflicts of interests. Somehow, somewhere, for those of us who have watched this movie, we can relate to them and agree that at some point of time in our lives, we have been through those kind of situations before, whether to listen to our instincts and passion or stick to the tried-and-tested success formulas. Director M. Raihan Halim and his team at Papahan Films have done well to potray all that I have mentioned either directly or subtly in the movie.

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Executive producer Edmund D. Lim addressing the audience along with fellow executive co-producer and director, M. Raihan Halim, before the film commenced…

The film, which is brought to you by the same people who produced award-winning television shows like “Yazid Pakai Lampin“, “Mr. Perfect“, “Papa Rock” and “Step Puteri” amongst others, will hopefully usher in a new era of film-making and revive the local Malay film industry which has long been decimated since the demise of the Jalan Ampas studio. I will not go as far as to put undue pressure on M. Raihan Halim and declare that he is now the messiah of the revolution, but in a way, he has taken steps to break down the walls of barrier and shown fellow local Malay film-makers that it is possible to take the plunge and tread where others do not dare. He stands tall with his team from Papahan Films that such a move can be done. I share their pride at seeing their dream materialise and realised and I was honoured to have witnessed the momentous and ground-breaking occasion. Please do support and watch Banting when it is out officially at the theatres this Friday 31st October 2014 onwards and you will understand the same pride that most, if not all of us who came for the film premiere feel and share till now…

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2014 Walk of the Stars Segment

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(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Malay Broadcast Division)

I really cannot thank the festive Deepavali public holiday enough cos I did not expect to post this entry so soon after the last one. I did promise that this entry will be snapshots of the “Walk of the Stars” event, a pseudo Red-Carpet event before Anugerah Planet Muzik 2014 commenced. I’ve been harping for years at the lack of a proper Red Carpet event for Anugerah Planet Muzik. But such events bring with it additional operating costs and the organisers were already working on a tight budget. Since we have been having this segment for years dating back to 2006, I believe this has become a unique feature of APM over the years, whether the local / foreign media brigade, myself or even industry peeps have reservations or not. I really hope that somewhere down the years, a kind sponsor would make the Red Carpet segment a reality, which we last witnessed in 2005.

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This year’s segment, though it was sprinkled with stardust, however felt a bit short, since not many artistes were introduced to the audience. I was hoping the bevy of local artistes who attended the prestigious awards show last Friday night would at least be given their dues and brief few seconds of fame onstage. I personally feel that the local attendees, who made up a majority of the sold-out audience, deserved to at least know who are their local artistes, especially the bands, since they seldom appear on television through reasons only known by the people that matter in the production teams of television shows / events. I doubt it will hurt at all to make them walk the stage, be interviewed briefly and feel at home with the audience cheering them on, cos I think it is easier for the audience to warm up to the likes of Tujuhband, Diorama, The Sallys or Aryan Band, who have all released radio-friendly hits over the years…

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Anyway am gonna end off this entry with additional photos I snapped of the other night’s awards recipients. Apologies if some of the photos I snapped amounted to a wee bit more than others, especially Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza. The amount of photographs snapped is not due to favouritism on my part, but because of how they eventually turned out after I had edited them and selecting the ones that were not blurred due to their respective motions when the shots were taken. I would have loved to have added more but the eventual outcome wasn’t good for public viewing and I for one, do not like to compensate quality as that has always been a hallmark of my presentation to my blog readers and visitors. Please give me a longer timeframe to do up my review and editing of the remaining 3000-odd photographs I have in store. For now I hope you have enjoyed viewing my three entries so far on APM2014. Till then…

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2014 Pre & Post-Event Snapshots

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Thank God for the public holiday later today. Yes I’m typing this in the wee hours of Tuesday night. Done with the second batch of photo editing. This time I’ll be featuring snapshots I took before Anugerah Planet Muzik 2014, during the commercial breaks as well as the post-event reception afterwards. Hope this would satiate your thirst for more photos before I post even more with the “Walk of the Stars” event in my following entry, which I hope to put up as soon as possible and finish off with my APM2014 review, hopefully before the end of next week. Yes, am taking my time because I am only doing this on a passion and hobby basis. If I’m doing this as a paid career, I would definitely post everything before the week is out. So yes, please continue visiting this site soon. Enjoy the public holiday today and hope you like this entry as well… :)

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