Elit Suria Semi-Finals Episode Recap…

Time flies by so fast and we’re already heading into the Grand Finals of Elit Suria this coming 27th August 2018. It seems like yesterday I was acquainting myself to the sixteen contestants who made it to the weekly episodic rounds and within less than a week from the time this entry is published, two new stars will be crowned the winners of the competition. Six weeks of competition, of which the recent two I have had the privilege to cover and get to know them up-close and personal, have been a learning journey for all of them. For some, they have discovered hidden talents from within that they initially thought they do not possess. For others, this was their opportunity to test their capabilities, come out from their comfort zones and challenge themselves through unchartered territory. There are even those whose personalities begin to shine through as the weeks progress. I know I have gone through these situations on an annual basis with each passing reality television competition series since I covered my first live event (Anugerah 2009), but come the end of every competition, I will always have that feeling of emptiness and withdrawals for a few weeks afterwards, having had a certain affiliation and connection with the contestants. I actually loathe the end of every competition. This is why I seldom publish reviews of reality competition Grand Finals, because usually there is nothing left to say or assess which will affect the eventual outcome of it.

Hosts Fauzie Laily and Nurul Aini

The Monday before last, 13 August 2018, saw Elit Suria‘s Top 10 duking it out in the semi-final round, for the coveted six spots in the coming Grand Finals. With so much at stake, there were bound to be those who would buckle under pressure and weight of expectations. Personally before the semi-finals, the ones I had in mind who would advance to the Grand Finals were Amyrah Mustafa, Haziq Halim, Asyraf Iskandar, Hana Rosli, Hans Hamid and Fatin Taha. Not to discredit nor looked down on the other four, Farahnurmadina Farook, Farid Azhar, Erna Ellieyana and Faiz Zainal, but the six that I had in mind had showed more composure, consistency and aptitude in the weeks leading up to the semi-finals. In their favour, I dare say people like Farah and Ellie have more bubbly and outgoing personalities, traits which make viewers warm easily to them. Over the weeks I have come to grow and have acceptance for Ellie‘s style of hosting, whereas Farah‘s winsome smile instantly lights up the scene she’s in. For Farid and Faiz to overcome the odds, they have to have more confidence in delivery, being expressive and not mouthing their words through gritted teeth, with the former slowly showing that he was improving in his own quiet way. So how did they and the rest fare during the semi-finals, which had Food as its theme of the week and Imran Ajmain as the guest performing artiste???

A slimmer and dapper-looking Imran Ajmain graced the semi-finals with his soulful voice…

For the second time in the competition, Asyraf Iskandar came out tops in the Style segment. For this performance which the contestants accompanied to Imran Ajmain‘s “Yang Ku Perlu“, the ones who did well were mostly the male contestants, with four of them amongst the Top 4, whereas four of the female contestants took the following four spots. I did not get the benefit of seeing the scores as they were flashed momentarily on the big screen and I was busy snapping away photographs. But imagine the shock I felt when I watched again via Toggle‘s Catch-Up TV. It was no wonder the female contestants whom I chatted with post-show, all voiced their worries about this particular segment, even though the percentage marks are only 20% of the overall score. Why the male contestants fared better was because they had more defined roles as a chef or waiter for example, where they could play along and improvise. I am not sure what the female contestants roles were other than Ellie‘s, whose character was wooed and proposed to by Hans Hamid in the segment, and Amyrah Mustafa, who was a violin player. This was explained by judge Khairudin Saharom afterwards, the importance of this segment, to understand the roles they are given and to immerse themselves in the characters so that they will have a deep appreciation of them when they go out and interview such personalities working in these career paths.

The semi-finalists grooved along to Imran‘s single “Yang Ku Perlu“…

I was asked by some of the contestants how they could improve and do better in this particular segment post-show. I studied some of their previous performances as well as this recent semi-final episode and managed to understand where judge Khairudin was coming from. I think a lot of worries and concerns stemmed from having to remember their steps, where to position themselves, what to do and so on and having to groove along to the music performed by the week’s guest artiste, which probably led to them not giving off their full best because there were just too many things to remember at one setting. I take for example Amyrah‘s role as a violin player. I think she could have serenaded the pair of Hans and Ellie when they were having dinner in the segment, a little longer than she should have, rather than just a brief encounter. A certain amount of realism should also have been exercised in that when she fiddled the violin strings, her sways should have followed along to the tune of Imran Ajmain‘s “Yang Ku Perlu“. A lot of the female contestants’ movements were too rushed for my liking, which in turn spoilt a lot of my shots, and some tend to look to the floor probably to know where they were supposed to stand. When they looked up and smiled at the audience, it was too brief and in a way, you don’t feel that sincere connection which they should have done. The guys are probably more savvy in that they know what to do, how to improvise and using their eyes and smiles to connect with the audience.

A first in the competition for the hosts, who went over to the judging panel to get a feel of what the view and feeling were like as a judge…

For this particular episode and for the first time in this competition, the contestants were made to interview two guest personalities live on stage, Ms. Nur Safiah Alias from Halal Food Hunt blog and celebrity chef, Chef Siti Mastura. The interview sessions, each lasting about five minutes, were meant to recreate typical media conference scenarios where questions are opened to the floor consisting of reporters and bloggers and the contestants had to imagine themselves as one, clamouring to ask the guest personality burning questions they have in mind. Just from observing the questions posed to the guest personalities, one could see how much effort and homework were done by the contestants. Most impressive and a definite standout was Amyrah, who literally had Chef Siti Mastura‘s profile and accolades at the back of her hands. When she listed Chef Siti‘s personal achievements and also used big words like “takrifan” (statement of meaning), I could hear the audience gasping in awe and had impressed looks on their faces. She is indeed the epitome of what judge Najip Ali has been drumming over the course of the competition, which is the mark of a thinking host that they are looking out for. There was no doubt at all that she would ace this segment and she eventually did, sharing top honours with Haziq Halim. I can foresee Amyrah having the necessary calibre to host a programme of serious nature when given the opportunity in future.

Asyraf Iskandar, Farahnurmadina Farook, Farid Azhar, Fatin Taha and Haziq Halim interviewed Ms. Nur Safiah Alias from Halal Food Hunt blog…

Some might have the feeling of discontent that Amyrah was hogging the time given to her or probably showing off what she knew, but I think she was just doing what is required of her as a competitor, doing her homework and coming to the competition well-prepared. It is not her fault at all if her knowledge of someone’s background is probably more than the others. In fact, it should be a source of impetus for the rest to up their game and do likewise. The only thing she has to be wary about is the time limit that they have, so that her fellow competitors will not feel left out or outshined, as in the case of the semi-final episode where there was only enough time to entertain her open question and not the rest. I am not sure if they will be penalised in the Grand Finals for taking up time, but this is something that she and the rest should be wary of, to keep their lines as brief yet as impactful as possible. This is where their aptitude of the Malay language will be put to the absolute test. It is ok to use big or bombastic words, but it should be kept to the minimum so as not to turn off general viewers from the community who can be quite sensitive and anal at trivial things such as this. At the very least, Amyrah has so far lived up to her initial promise to use the competition to inspire more of her peers and generation to use the Malay language as a comfortable daily medium, something to be proud of and not awkward to deliver.

A light-hearted moment before Amyrah Mustafa, Erna Ellieyana, Faiz Zainal, Hana Rosli and Hans Hamid grilled Chef Siti Mastura

Not to be outdone, Haziq Halim was also another standout with two quality questions posed to Ms. Nur Safiah. In fact at the beginning of the competition, I have heard from people connected to the programme that he is one with huge potential. However, I was not impressed when I watched him in the very first episode because he appeared to be cocky and arrogant at first glance. But as the saying goes, he is the embodiment of the famous old Malay saying, “Tak kenal maka tak cinta…“. You have got to know him to understand his psyche and approach. Beneath what I would now classify as a “confident” outlook, lies a character who is hungry to learn and humble enough to accept his flaws asking where, how and what he can improve on to his performances. My advice to Haziq is to check on the way he expresses his feelings through his facial expressions, because sometimes it can turn off viewers when he appears to speak in a condescending tone and display a cocky outlook, usually seen during the X-Factor rounds. However, one cannot deny this guy is strong in many aspects, not least his ability to be more expressive and natural over his fellow male finalists, whom I still feel need to shed their cool and macho persona and be more outgoing. No, this is not me looking down on the likes of Hans Hamid or Farid Azhar who have qualified along with Haziq to the Grand Finals, but I would dearly like them to be more evocative yet expressing themselves naturally, to push themselves to perform as well as Haziq, because they are beginning to appear one-dimensional and a bit too formal in style of presentation.

One complaint I have when watching the Personality segment was the apparent confused state of addressing the guests. When one person uses the word, “Awak“, the rest should follow suit and standardise. Likewise if the first person uses the word “Anda“, the rest should also take the cue and reciprocate in kind. Call me anal, but I think there should be a marked distinction between the two words, whether they are in a formal or informal setting. There was one particular moment where one of the contestants used both words when they had to repeat their question. Though there is no wrong in using either words, aesthetically it sounds a bit off aurally. Also, I still notice some of the contestants preferring to speak in Baku, which for a good part of the last five years, have seen many hosts dropping the lingo when they speak, unless they are hosting formal programmes or newscasters reading the news bulletin. The contestants have to bear in mind that the producers are looking for all-rounders, not just hosts for a particular kind of programme. Even radio deejays seldom speak in the lingo, unless they are reading the news or discussing current affairs matters in specially-dedicated programmes. They have to learn to adapt somehow to the requirements of the shows they are engaged to host and not limit themselves. In terms of quality of the questions posed, I think only about half of them gave good ones and this was lamented by judge Khairudin afterwards when asked to give his analysis.

Judge Khairudin was slightly disappointed with the quality of questions asked during the Personality segment…

I was surprised and somewhat disappointed that Fatin Taha‘s usual composure and calm demeanour deserted her when she needed them the most, to the point she repeated what had already been asked by Farid Azhar just before her turn. Such mistakes at this crucial stage of the competition could be the difference between progression or elimination. When I asked some of the contestants what happened post-show as to why some of them fumbled or seemed to have asked a similar question, they said that initially believed they were allowed to bring their notebooks to the live show, but they were told at the last moment that it was not, leaving most of them scrambling to remember who was supposed to ask which question. When I posed the possible scenario of meeting their respective guest personalities to rehearse whilst waiting for the live show to start, they said that the personalities were in another waiting room and they did not have access to them. I managed to meet Ms. Nur Safiah over the past weekend and asked if she could have rehearsed along with them had they asked her to, she said that she would have gladly done so, as she was somewhat bored playing the waiting game in the holding room. So in this case, I think there was a major communication breakdown between the contestants and guest personalities. The contestants were probably too shy to ask or even too worried having to remember so many things to do and say, that taking the initiative to ask eluded their minds. This is a valuable learning experience for them to take the initiative and just do what they feel is right for the betterment of their future performances.

The Bestari round which was keenly contested, yet the overall quality of answers were not up to scratch…

Wow I dedicated at least five paragraphs on the Personality segment alone!!! I don’t think I have much to comment on the Bestari round, where once again Amyrah came out tops to officially be the ace competitor for this segment throughout the competition. I do not know if it was just her rub of green, but I observed that she has been quite fortunate standing nearest to the monitor screen that was facing hosts Fauzie Laily and Nurul Aini every time, by virtue of standing according to names in alphabetical order. She probably had the slight edge in being able to read and see the questions, while those over at the other end were seen tiptoeing and squinting their eyes to get a good read of the questions that appeared on the screen. I could be wrong, but from where I stood, it looked that way, though when I asked her about it post-show, she said that she could hardly see the questions as the two hosts were blocking her view. If that is the case, then I really have to take my hats off to her for her general knowledge proficiency. Not that the rest did not try, they did do their best. In fact some were quick on the draw to answer, but in the end gave a wrong one. I think for the rest to have a chance of upstaging Amyrah in this segment, a tweak to the format of competition during the Grand Finals might give them that window of opportunity. I heard rumours that there is a possibility of it happening, so it will be interesting to see how next Monday‘s question-and-answer segment will pan out. However in the overall context, out of the ten questions asked, only four were answered correctly, with Amyrah edging Farid and Farah by one, a somewhat disappointing figure.

I usually do not focus much to what is being said during the X-Factor round, as my fingers are busy snapping away photographs of the contestants in action. This also probably stems from the fact that I know who have done well for Hosting and Bestari, and probably do not need much self-promotion to advance to the next week’s episode. I only watch it again via Catch-Up TV to analyse how eloquent, fluent, confident and expressive they can be. I must say that there have been several good oratories throughout the competition. I personally feel, given the criticisms I had earlier of Haziq for his apparent cocky demeanour, he actually knows how to play with his words and connect with the audience. Those who eventually managed to qualify for the Grand Finals are those having those four traits that I mentioned earlier, besides how much they were able to touch the audience with their voice sincerity, likeability and most importantly their smiles. This segment is where I really love listening to the soothing and calm radio deejay voices of Hana Rosli, Fatin Taha and Hans Hamid, not forgetting Haziq and Amyrah. As this is a make or break round, their grave facial expressions and hesitancy in delivery are giveaways to their respective lack of confidence levels. This segment sets apart the ones on the fringes of advancement and the ones on the brink of elimination.

Imran Ajmain performed his second song of the night and latest single, “Intan Dan Perak”, just before the final results were announced…

In the end, we said goodbye to the likes of Faiz Zainal, Erna Ellieyana, Asyraf Iskandar and Fatin Taha. I am actually gutted for both Asyraf Iskandar and Fatin Taha who have been consistently good in previous episodes. However, if we take into account that both Farid and Farah had answered one question correctly during Bestari, those correct answers proved to be the difference in them progressing into the Grand Finals, giving them greater weightage, even though Asyraf came in fifth during the Personality round. Both Farid and Farah came in sixth and seventh respectively, so one can imagine how close their marks were to have a significant jump in standings by the end of the show. Hence it is paramount for them to give off their best for all the rounds to set them apart from their fellow competitors. To be fair to both Farid and Farah, I do notice that there are improvements to their performances and styles of presentation. Being the youngest in the competition certainly does not deter Farah from giving off her best and improving as the weeks pass by. I dare say amongst all the finalists, she has been the most improved with her confidence levels the one that I’ve noticed rising a notch higher with every passing episode. Anyway the usual complaints about her from previous episode still lingers, but I’m happy to say that she has been trying to minimise it, which is a massive credit to her. Farid could be a surprise package waiting to explode during the Grand Finals. He has been quite the slow starter, but this Monday, the stars might just align for him and he may just bloom for all we know. He is one dark horse that Hans and Haziq need to be wary of.

The two I was gutted to see being eliminated from the competition – Asyraf Iskandar and Fatin Taha

I feel that amongst the finalists, Hana and Hans have been consistently good and comfortable without being pushed fully to the maximum of their abilities and capabilities. For the former, she has to distinguish herself as either a performer, given her background as a musical theatre practitioner, or a host. Of course being an all-rounder is good and it has to be pointed out that Hana is a prolific singer and budding actress based on her talents and previous small roles on local television. However, her speech during the X-Factor round worried me a bit, giving me the impression that she will be contented with not winning the competition knowing her other skill sets will ensure she becomes a regular fixture on our screens. Right now as I see it according to current form, Amyrah has the edge over the two female finalists, but I do hope that they will not give up easily without giving her a good fight. Both Hana and even Farah have their personal attributes and respective strengths to upstage Amyrah. They just need to find their inner self-belief and confidence that they can do it. I for one like how spontaneous Hana can be off-camera, just lost in her own world, yet having that steely confidence, poise, spunk and devil-may-care attitude to prove others wrong. She needs to translate them all on stage. Likewise Farah, even though she is naturally demure and probably one that can be dismissed as an outsider, her smile and quiet determination are two of her biggest assets. I think if there are possible chinks in Amyrah‘s armour which the other two can take advantage of, is that she can be a bit too formal in delivery and outlook. She needs to loosen up a bit and be a bit more expressive and outgoing, which Hana and Farah possess.

Say hello to the six finalists – Farid Azhar, Farahnurmadina Farook, Haziq Halim, Amyrah Mustafa, Hans Hamid and Hana Rosli!!!

Haziq‘s strengths and flaws have been mentioned already and I don’t think needs any repeating like a bad record. Amongst the male finalists, he is quite the favourite to win, though I do hope that he does not rest on his laurels or become complacent as a result of my positive analysis of his performances so far. I noticed something in common about most of the finalists when I am reminded of their very first introductory clips. Those who are in for the last lap of competition have lived up to their earlier promises. For Haziq, his desires and will to win in memory of his late father are keeping his determination burning bright. For Hans, I hope that he can break loose from the comfort of doing just enough to get by. He has the charisma and personality to do better. Given his career working as an animal show host at the zoo, he should have the experience in engaging the audience and be a bit more lively in delivery. I was extremely impressed with him from the very start of the competition, but in a reality competition such as this, you want to see improvements every week and not performance levels that have hit a plateau. Like Hana and Farah, I really do hope that both Hans and Farid will kick Haziq‘s ass (literally) come Monday, and not surrender meekly through personal contentment with what they have currently achieved. Right now amongst the guys, Haziq is the one with fire burning in his eyes to win. I hope the other two gentlemen can prove me wrong and I am sure they will. All the best to all the finalists and congratulations once again for making it this far!!!

P.S. Please do not expect to see me do a review of the Grand Finals. Most probably this will be my last entry on the competition.

Snapshots of Elit Suria Semi-Final Episode

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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