We’re coming into the fourth week of competition and last Tuesday, Group A returned to our television screens intent on showing that they have improved over the past fortnight. I was also eager to watch and see how they would perform after going through the various classes and guides from their respective mentors, Rilla Melati and Najib Soiman. Anyway, quirky or sadistic as it may sound, I’m beginning to like the idea of seeing two contestants being eliminated each week. It means I have two lesser paragraphs to type as the weeks go on, by virtue of having less to comment on their hosting and acting segments. I might sound lazy but really, it can be quite tedious having to break down typing your posts throughout the week with other commitments in hand. Not to mention watching the programme again on Toggle.sg to restudy their performances before making my personal assessments and editing the photographs I snapped live from the Mediacorp TV Theatre.
A beaming Siti Hajar Gani joined the panel of jury last Tuesday…
Speaking of the Mediacorp TV Theatre, from the comfort of the large venue we’ve been accustomed to, for this past Tuesday and tomorrow, the show was and will be brought to you live from Studio 4, a smaller but more intimate venue. For those who have not been able to watch live shows at Caldecott Broadcast Centre, the place is about a quarter of the size of its TV Theatre counterpart. The audience is much closer and you can literally hear them from where you stand on stage. Movements are a bit restricted though due to space constraints and unlike the TV Theatre, I was stuck to one place. Though I am used to the venue having covered events like Anugerah Skrin 2010 and Ratu back in 2012 and 2013 before this, I still feel a little uncomfortable at times due to the restricted space. This past week, Siti Hajar Gani joined the judging panel, alongside our resident judges Khairudin Samsudin and Sharon Ismail.
Hosts Shah Iskandar and Huda Ali…
I am not sure if the change in venue of the live broadcast had something to do with a slight change in format for the competition, pertaining to the hosting segment which was held outdoors for the first time this year, but it does feel that way, even though it might be coincidental. This week, the contestants were brought to the Kampung Glam area to record their respective hosting clips. Unlike the first and second episodes where they did their hosting live at the TV Theatre, they were given the opportunity to experience hosting outdoors as well as relate on the history of some of the roads, places and landmarks found in the area. Which I found very useful as a viewer because I learned something new and valuable from the nuggets of information that were shared. Props and kudos to the producers and script writers (Netty Fiona Othman and Nurul Akhmar Elias) for doing their research and sharing it with us.
Danish Ashraf and Nabihah Zainodin…
Danish Asyraf and Nabihah Zainodin kicked off the night’s competition and their task was presenting history nuggets to the viewers on Kampung Glam as well as the Sultan Mosque. There was a distinct lack of confidence on the part of Nabihah, forgetting her lines as well as looking unsure at certain points. Together with Danish, both sounded as though they were reading directly from a script in front of them. I get the impression that there was probably neither natural storytelling nor understanding of the history beforehand. At least that’s what I get from my own observations which can be interpreted differently by other viewers. This is where as presenters, one should also do their respective homework on the people or places they are presenting to the viewers. Prior understanding will more or less equip them and make their presentation more natural and believable.
The theme for the week, which was light-hearted, felt like it was right up Danish‘s alley, something that suited his personality and speciality. But I was actually surprised that he somehow held back for reasons only known to him. I believe he could have exaggerated his role a bit and added more funny or over-the-top reactions. I am not sure if they had confidence issues that night, but Nabihah looked extremely uncomfortable and moody, even when the whole performance was supposed to be otherwise. It prompted judge Khairudin to comment that as an actor, she needed to identify the right graph and climax to her scene, which felt quite ordinary, at least to me. Her hair also seemed to have given her a bit of a problem and as a viewer, I was a bit irritated to see her hair covering her face more than half the time without getting to see more of her facial expressions.
Shida Lestaluhu and Yamin Yusof
Shida Lestaluhu and Yamin Yusof were up next and their hosting segment brought them to nearby Haji Lane. I did not get to comment on Yamin when I did my entry on the first episode. His most glaring flaw which I managed to detect then was his inability to mouth his words clearly, making him sound either inaudible or he sounded as though he was speaking through gritted teeth. I’m sure his mentors would have brought this up with him as I could see some improvements during this hosting segment. Though it has to be said, like the first pairing, Yamin‘s delivery did not come across as natural and as though he was reading directly from a script. If I were to be more critical, Yamin was also quite wooden in terms of body movements. Which in a way, might have affected Shida a bit, because the chemistry between them did not quite hit it off. A bit of a waste because Shida is one of the better presenters amongst the contestants, thanks to her natural gift of a voice.
My understanding of Yamin‘s character during their acting segment was that of a nerd whose simplistic way of thinking, resulted in him not having much luck at dating or winning over ladies’ hearts prior to his date. Based on his overall performance, I think there was a slight redemption to his hosting segment. Yamin however, has to be wary that he sometimes deliver his lines without hitting on the right emotions when the scene calls for it, or saying his lines without the right intonations. As for Shida, from this performance, I can say that comedy is not her cup of tea yet, because she was holding back and was a bit too serious for my liking. I had actually expected her to speak with an exaggerated accent, or even added a bit of arrogance to her character, having stayed in New York for five years prior to returning to Singapore. But overall, they both did quite ok even though there is still room for improvement in many aspects.
Kamarul Arifin and Syafiqah Shahlan
Up next was the pairing of Kamarul Arifin and Syafiqah Shahlan. Where I enjoyed their respective hosting segments during the first episode, their pairing this time more or less maintained the same level of performance. Kamarul‘s pleasant voice and Syafiqah‘s positivity made their pairing a generally well-balanced one. Though I would like to caution Kamarul when it comes to energy. During the first part of his hosting, he looked like he was all up for it, but somehow his tone and level went down a notch halfway through, indicating a slight seriousness and then he suddenly became goofy. He also needs to control his facial contortions which I find a bit disturbing sometimes, and this I noticed since the first episode. The last fifteen to twenty seconds of their segment I felt was their best showing, but Syafiqah aced it throughout with her calmness and relaxed delivery, even though Khairudin brought up the fact that at times she sounded as though she was in a debate.
Where they generally did well for hosting, I was squirming when I observed the first part of their acting performance. Kamarul clearly forgot his lines and tripped on his words when he said, “... semua orang tahu saya seorang butik yang terkenal…” As someone who has extreme OCD on mispronouncing of words, spelling and grammar, it did not sit down quite well with me. Moreso when it clearly affected his performance. Again, when it comes to the acting segment, there will be one person who would seem to be holding back. The effeminate character given to Kamarul, I felt was easy to execute, if he had studied some of judge Khairudin‘s past performances in similar roles. He should have just let loose and enjoyed himself out there but I am sure the forgetting of lines clearly affected his performance, which only improved as he went on. As for Syafiqah, Kamarul‘s performance might have affected her somewhat, but I felt she was a bit laxed overall, prompting Sharon Ismail to quip that she was too comfortable with her sitting posture and that her character felt like she had known Kamarul‘s effeminate character for years instead of them just getting to know one another. Their scene felt more like a talkshow than an acting performance.
Nurul Nadia and Zaidi Zailee
Now for the last pairing, Nurul Nadia and Zaidi Zailee. I actually enjoyed their hosting segment the most, probably because of Nurul‘s overall outlook and performance, which I personally felt was the best amongst the eight contestants for the week. I cannot deny and this was also brought up by Sharon, that a good host should be pleasing on the eyes of the viewers and not only good with their delivery. Nurul had the perfect mix last Tuesday, even if it felt as though I was watching Fauzie Laily‘s missus, Nurul Huda presenting but with Huda Ali doing voiceover. No disrespect cos Nurul Nadia does have a passing resemblance to Nurul Huda and her voice tones are too similar to Huda Ali‘s. I’ve noticed this since I first watched her during the auditions back in November 2015. I remember telling Huda when we were observing the auditions that Nurul Nadia sounded exactly like her and I still stand by that even though Huda herself disagreed back then. As for Zaidi, if I were to separate his hosting performance from Nurul‘s, it felt like he did not stand out because his lines were limited and that he delivered it quite monotonously. Which was a pity because he had a good partner to spar with and he did not quite respond with the same energy.
Finally their acting performance. Nurul‘s character as a tomboy required her to look and act the part. However I felt she was too pretty for the role with make up and all. But I note of the time constraints between her segment and the end where they have to look pretty and all in their more glamourous outfits for the final reckoning, so I cannot put the blame on whoever that had styled or made her up that night. Just that in terms of realism, it did not quite come off as believable. That aside and continuing with the general theme for the night amongst the contestants, there was that issue of holding back, both for Nurul as well as Zaidi. Nurul seemed quite afraid to mouth some of her words, whereas Zaidi suddenly mixed up his lines, jammed up and forgotten what he had to say before he was rescued by his partner. There’s also the issue of stereotyping. I don’t believe all tomboys speak with a deep voice and Nurul didn’t have to put up that voice tone, because she did not consistently retain that same level of depth throughout her performance. I think Zaidi was visibly affected by his earlier gaffe because throughout his performance, he was either deadpan or sounded as though he was reading from his script, sans the right emotions and intonations.
Zaidi Zailee and Nabihah Zainodin, the latest casualties to be eliminated from the competition…
Like I said in the entry for the first episode, small margins would determine who would progress and who would be eliminated. I was half right when I guessed that Nabihah Zainodin was to be eliminated just before they announced the results at the end of the show. For the guys, I had half-expected Yamin Yusof to be eliminated but was not surprised when Zaidi Zailee was called out instead. In fact, I thought Zaidi would be eliminated in the first episode. It is definitely ironic to notice that the four contestants who were paired together in the first episode are now out of the competition. As viewers would have seen during the end credits, there were emotional scenes with all the other contestants who had progressed, shedding tears for their eliminated counterparts, though there were also some who cried because they were relieved at the opportunity to be given another shot at the competition when they thought they had bungled big time. I would however, like to advise all the contestants to smile more, especially when they are facing the judges for their post-performance assessments. I know they are tensed, but it does not make for good viewing when they all look so glum, moody and stressed out. Worst is if they were to look down towards the ground. Chin up, smile and warm yourselves to the cameras as well as your viewers. It would increase your likeability factor.
Speaking of likeability, it was announced on Tuesday night that the Top 16 contestants stand to walk away with the subsidiary award of Most Popular Anugerah Skrin 2016 Male / Female contestants. Since the main competition is judged by the professional judging panel, these subsidiary awards sponsored by Radiglow, would be open to the public to vote for their respective favourites. Beginning from last Tuesday, 9 February 2016 right up till the Grand Finals night on 29 March 2016, one can vote for their personal favourites via the official Anugerah Skrin site on Toggle.sg. I believe you need to register and follow the instructions given in the site before being allowed to vote. Being neutral and impartial as always, I will abstain from voting even if eventually I have a personal favourite sometime down the road. At the moment, I do not have anyone I deem to be a standout. Usually for a competition like Anugerah Skrin, the winners or favourites will start to emerge from the semi-final round onwards, just like Huda Ali back in 2006 and Syirah Jusni in 2010. I just want to see a fair competition where the winners for the subsidiary awards are rightfully deserved via votes from their fans as well as loved ones.
The Top 6 from Group A clearly emotional at the end of the show…
It is getting tighter by the week and I’m sure it will get very emotional with each passing week. I actually am thankful that I am given the opportunity to cover and watch the contestants live and see how they are like off-camera. They look like they are a tight bunch with almost everyone shedding tears after the show was over, but I’m only speaking based on how the competition is still in its infancy stage. It could be different when it gets more competitive and perhaps that’s when we might see some tensions, though I hope it will still be healthy in nature. Acting and hosting afterall need the performers to work together for a common cause and tensions will only affect their professionalism. It is still anybody’s game at the moment and nobody has stood out outright from Group A. I would like to say Danish Ashraf has been quite consistent, but he has also been quite fortunate because his roles so far have been right up his backyard. Between the ladies and gentlemen, the tougher fight is between the ladies because those left in the competition have shown they deserved to remain for the time being at least. It definitely is going to be tough for the judges to decide with each passing week. I’m just thankful I’m not in the hotseat to decide… 🙂