Ratu First Episode Recap

Mediacorp Suria‘s latest brain-child, kicked off this past Tuesday 27 November 2012, with sixteen beauties vying for the coveted title of “Ratu“. For those who are still wondering what is the purpose of this reality competition being held and how it differs from previous ones in search of singers, actors and hosts, well the television station is on the lookout for Malay females who embrace modernity and progressive thinking, while keeping to the essence of Malay culture and traditions. In summary, they are looking for a fresh face who could be groomed to be the new face of the television station. In time to come, she could be prolific in hosting, acting or even singing if she shows the necessary potential to succeed. And of course, with the tie-up with Metrowealth International Group (MIG) from Malaysia, our new face will also be expected to be marketed across the Causeway.

Sezairi Sezali opening the show with “Dara“…

Episode One of Ratu began with our third Singapore Idol, Sezairi Sezali, performing “Dara“, the classic evergreen hit made famous by one of Indonesia‘s R&B kings Harvey Malaiholo. It has to be said that till now at the time of typing this entry, the song has been playing in my head over and over again, simply because Sezairi did the song a lot of justice, through his own interpretation. It was also apt that the song was used to accompany and introduce the sixteen beauties of this competition, who sashayed their way out to the watching live audience and viewers at home, decked in maxi-dresses and styled reminiscent of Greek goddesses you might have watched via period drama series or even films depicting medieval times. I only have one word to describe their outfit: Stunning!!!

The hosts – Fauzie Laily and Marina Yusoff…

My only complaint for the opening segment was the quick pace that the girls were told to make whilst walking, which prevented me from taking good shots of everyone, most notably Natasha Tan and Jannah Jakasha, whom I failed to capture a single and proper shot of them. I cannot blame them as they were prompted to move fast by the stage choreographer who was seated next to me. Speaking of which, I have to apologise if this entry has mostly bad quality photographs featured, unlike those you have been so used to viewing on this domain. It was my fault that I forgot to set my camera settings properly that night, so a lot of the photographs did not turn out that well. I’m hoping this was a one-off and that future weeks could see a better output and quality from my camera.

The judging panel consisted of Nuraliza Osman, Hafeez Glamour and Hanis Hussey…

The girls were to make a second appearance later on in the show wearing Kebaya outfits which I believe have been tweaked to look modern. They then did a short catwalk on stage when Sezairi came back onstage to introduce to us his new single titled “Sayang“, which has every potential to be a radio hit. But some of the girls’ Kebaya outfits did not resonate much with yours truly as they showed quite a bit more flesh than the eyes could take, as opposed to the first one where all of them looked demure, yet regal. Since this is a show that is supposed to “keep the essence of Malay culture and traditions”, maybe a bit more cloth on them wouldn’t hurt that much. It is already quite disturbing to see armchair critics panning the show as nothing more than a “flesh parade”. But then again, what do I know about fashion???

It is too early to judge or slate the girls and competition on its virgin episode, simply because they were not given the opportunity to speak much other than short one-liners during their first outdoor challenge. Most good and versatile actor-hosts started from scratch, none more evident than the current competition’s resident hosts Fauzie Laily and Marina Yusoff, who were products of reality competitions themselves in the past. One can only get better through time, some take a few years to bloom, while some just soar the moment they take off. But not everyone is the same. The first challenge where the contestants had to style one another up, was not a good barometer nor enough to judge them on their fashion sense nor their linguistic and intellectual skills. Likewise to judge them on their respective catwalks, as everyone should know, save for a handful who have had modelling experiences prior to joining this competition, the rest have little to zero knowledge. But the mentors and judges did praise them and said they saw improvements since the first time the girls walked into the auditions.

Sezairi introduced the audience to his new single “Sayang”…

I am sure in the weeks to come, the audience and viewers are going to give these girls hell for their proficiency, or perhaps lack-thereof, in speaking the Malay language. Already the other day, I’ve read and seen comments online shooting down the two lady judges for not speaking the language well. Even someone who speaks the language well, like Hafeez Glamour, was not spared either, albeit from a different angle. The girls know what they are in for and they have to learn quickly, seeing how harsh the industry is and with many keyboard warriors speaking their minds on social media like Twitter and Facebook. In the case of Natasha Tan, I heard the other day when eight of the contestants were live on RIA 89.7FM, that she had studied Mandarin all her life and this is a new game for her altogether, a challenge in itself to speak the Malay language. It is good that someone like her is showing the willingness to learn as the competition progresses and likewise I hope all contestants will be given the benefit of doubt the moment they open their mouths to speak.

We cannot deny the fact that living in this age and time, we are constantly thinking in English and at times we struggle to put in proper words / sentence structure in our own mother tongue, myself included. Through their rehearsals and weekly challenges at outdoor locations, I believe the girls would have some idea on what kind of questions will be asked. They might take a moment to jot them down or make mental notes, and if they dunno the meaning of the words, they can quickly Google the meanings or counter-check with one another. It’s all about self-initiative. I know Major David Teo said during the media conference that it is ok if they are not able to speak the language well, using Maya Karin as a point of reference when she first started off, but it is also important to be able to be comfortable and at ease speaking formally. Maybe they can have a few English words thrown in, but it should be kept to its absolute minimum. A gentle reminder to the girls, please do not speak with a slang. You will get instant bombardment and definitely turn would-be voters (for the Ratu Popularity title) off. Speak like how you speak the language at home. It does not have to be in Bahasa Baku, but you should also not sound like you have been living in the States since you were born. 😛

The whole auditorium sang the birthday song for Nor Aishah Ahmad (fourth from right) who turned 22 this past Tuesday

Cynics of this blog might wonder why am I changing tunes when in previous reality competitions, I have been very quick to slate the contestants. The answer is simple and one I share with the judging panel. It is only the first episode, I do not see the need to go on an all-out assault on their fashion sense, linguistic and intellectual skills. At least not yet (You have been forewarned, girls… :)). In the case of Anugerah and Anugerah Skrin, it’s either you have it or you don’t, and if you were to sing off-key or pitchy for example, then it is a no-brainer to call a spade, a spade. I do however need to reiterate a call I made in my media conference entry. I beseech (this is quite the “in” word after the first episode :P) the team of make-up artistes and stylists to do some justice to the girls in terms of their make-up and hair done. Some of them either had too much powder / make-up on their faces or their hair was not done to suit their age / outlook. I might not know much about dolling up nor styling, but at least make them look like rightful queens and not bridal models (Am certainly not looking down on bridal models here. Please don’t get me wrong here. Was referring to the kind of make-up…) please. Sometimes less is more, and I don’t mean the outfits they wear.

And so the competition has begun, and voting for the “Ratu Popularity” title is opened over at Mediacorp Suria‘s Facebook page. You can cast your vote on who you feel should be rightfully awarded as the most popular “Ratu“. Closing date will be on the day of the Grand Finals itself on 15 January 2013. Before I end, I would just like to take this opportunity to thank the eight contestants (Nur Aqilah, Ayura, Natasha Tan, Fadiana Zulkifli, Jannah Jakasha, Elfiana Ismail, Fatin Amira & Nor Aishah Ahmad) who had gone live on RIA 89.7FM this past Tuesday. During their live interview, they stole a few seconds to thank yours truly for my tips and advice which I have dispensed in my previous entry and through Twitter. It was a nice and unexpected gesture and I was certainly caught off-guard. But if it was meant to sweeten my future entries on the competition, hahaha we will cross the bridge when the time comes. I have to be professional in my approach and show no special favours, yet at the same time I will try to understand the difficulties that they go through when assessing and commenting on their subsequent appearances…

P.S. An inquisitive question for the production team: Is there a difference between “Ofis” and “Pejabat“???

Author: Pujangga Malam™

Well-known on RIA 89.7FM as a controversial and sensational critic able to invoke thought-provoking and sometimes, fiery responses from fellow listeners. Have since evolved into a distinguished blogger of reputable claim with takes on the Malay entertainment industry and football-related matters. Brutally honest and believes in only reporting the truth as I see, hear or experience it. Self-styled critic who does not mince his words and is definitely a non-conformist.

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