Domicile of Da' KRUsader's Mind Crafts…

Album / Single / Music Video / Book / Product / Drama / Movie Launches

“Maya” & “Adakah Dia” Singles Launch…

Some of us might wonder what happened to last year’s Anugerah 2017 winner Mohd Shahfiq or any of the alumnus as we have heard nothing nor seen any new products from any of them, other than see some making the odd appearance on television for various shows or hearing them lend their voices for the official soundtracks of local dramas. This is one of my biggest gripes about this reality singing competition, in that they usually do not strike while the iron is hot. Too many of these past contestants take a long time to come out with an album or even one single, as most of them are constrained by the rules of the competition, where there is a six-months window period where they are not allowed to sign on with other companies or labels not associated with the competition. Anything can happen within this time frame, which might alter one’s passion or interest for the scene.

Shahfiq kicked off the launch by performing “Maya“…

However, to be fair, from the activities of those that I still follow on social media, some of these contestants have not been idle. Privately, some  have been quietly busy improving themselves in many aspects, like trying to be fitter so as to have better stamina when performing and equally looking good, while also performing at gigs and such to improve on their vocals. Others have dabbled in other crafts within the entertainment industry like 3rd runner-up, Nor Shafiq, who was seen in last December‘s SR115 drama series in a mini supporting role, while semi-finalist Elza Rahim has settled down and welcomed her new arrival just recently. Some do not have the luxury of having a proper management team behind them and have to do it on their own. Luckily for last year’s winner, Mohammad Shahfiq and second runner-up, Liwani Izzati, as part of their respective winning prizes, they are signed on to Paranormal Solutions Sdn Bhd, the Malaysian-based company who have the likes of Ayda Jebat and Aisyah Aziz, amongst many others, in their stable.

Liwani‘s “Adakah Dia” piqued my interest at the first time of listening…

A year is probably a short or long time for some of us, depending on events happening in our respective lives. It has been a long wait personally for me, but a year on from Anugerah 2017, we finally witnessed the official singles launch of Mohd Shahfiq, and Liwani Izzati, titled “Maya” and “Adakah Dia” respectively. The event was brought to us by the good people at Paranormal and local-based talent management company, S.Ria Productions. The humble venue where the launch was held, Taste Garden @ Orto, welcomed at least fifty people, more than half of which consisted of family members and friends of the two budding songbirds. The event, held on the scorching hot afternoon of 23rd March 2018, was hosted by emcee Mahadi Mashuri, no stranger to the local scene having had acting stints in the past, but is now known more for his hosting capabilities at weddings and corporate events.

The two singers then treated the crowd to Afgan and Raisa‘s hit song, “Percayalah“…

The whole event was a simple affair, with the two young singers performing their respective singles live to the watching audience, which also consisted of the local media brigade and those responsible for overseeing the making and production of the singles. The guests were also visually treated to the official music videos of the respective singles, both filmed in Kuala Lumpur. While the music video of “Maya” has been around for some time prior to the event, the music video of “Adakah Dia” was officially made available on YouTube on the night of the launch itself and has since garnered more than 10,000 views, a commendable effort for a relatively newbie in the scene. “Maya” was composed by renowned Malaysian composer Kevin Chin, written by Tinta and produced by Irwan Simanjuntak, the latter no stranger to the regional music scene. “Adakah Dia“, on the other hand, was produced by serial Anugerah Planet Muzik award-winning songwriters, Judah Lyne and Haramain Osman, of The Lion Story fame.

Paranormal Solutions founder, Prashan Chitty a.k.a. Melakaboy, sharing his experience working with Liwani and for the two singles…

I have had time to listen to both songs these past three weeks and if you were to ask me to make a comparison between the two singles, I am personally more inclined to favour Liwani‘s “Adakah Dia” over Shahfiq‘s “Maya“. I guess it is a matter of one’s personal choice and over years of listening to music to know what kind of song hooks attract listeners in double quick time. Not that “Maya” is not nice on the ears, but it takes a few times of listening for it to grow on me as compared to “Adakah Dia“. I personally feel that the song is probably too big for a newbie like Shahfiq to shoulder or as an introduction. You would expect more established singers to be able to perform this kind of song, but to Shahfiq‘s credit, he has taken over the challenge to push himself to sing a song of this magnitude. Maybe in time when his vocal technical abilities are more profound, can the song be appreciated better. It is definitely a good effort no doubt about it, and wish that both of them will continue to soar as singers of calibre that we can be proud of.

Liwani and Shahfiq were joined onstage for the group photo alongside MediaCorp Eaglevision‘s Sabariah Ramilan (left) and Suhaimi Jais (third from right), as well as S.RIA Productions‘ Managing Director, Ms. Sabariah Hirma (second from right) and Paranormal‘s Prashan Chitty

“Maya” and “Adakah Dia” are available for sale and download at iTunes, Spotify, Joox and Deezer. Thank you to Paranormal Records and S.Ria Productions for kindly inviting me to cover the event!!!

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Hafeez Glamour – Doktor Kereta Ambassador…

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I was kindly invited by bro Hafeez Glamour, my mentor back from my internship days with our local Malay radio stations, to cover this momentous event in his career – being appointed an ambassador for Doktor Kereta, a renowned local car dealing company, which is no stranger to the Malay community. This event was held on Saturday 12 March 2016 at the company’s new premises at Woodlands Horizon, where they recently shifted from their old place at Yio Chu Kang Road. Besides the appointment of bro Hafeez as ambassador, this event was also held to thank the customers of the company for their loyal patronage. I felt with the grand scale of the celebrations they had that day, it also felt like an event to celebrate the official opening of the new premises.

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The new premises of Doktor Kereta Pte. Ltd

There was a sizeable crowd that turned up, not only to watch the official announcement of bro Hafeez as the company’s ambassador, but also to meet and greet artistes like popular Malaysian actress, Yana Samsudin, our very own Aziz siblings – Aliff and Aisyah, Alias Kadir, as well as entertained by Kelly Azman and Luqman Damanuri, the latter two from Malaysia. Aisyah Aziz was on hand to pass free copies of her new single, “Titik Merah“, to the first one hundred visitors. The single which won the first prize in a local song composition contest held by Berita Harian and PERKAMUS, was composed by Sallys Music Production and written by Madam Amanah Mustafi from Mediacorp Eaglevision. It was released in conjunction with our recently-concluded SG50 celebrations.

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Yana Samsudin, whom I’ve taken a liking since I watched her in “Bini-Biniku Gangster” back in 2011, did not come empty-handed. Accompanied by her husband, Fadzil Zahari, she was also there to promote her new line of hijabwear called “Ayana“. It was hilarious seeing her and Kelly Azman playing games with some of the audience, getting them to wear her fashion line and making them do the catwalk with it. Aliff Aziz, who was accompanied by his fiancee, Bella Astillah and mother Madam Hafiza, entertained the crowd with his first ever hit, “Sayang-Sayang“. For a free event, the audience got their entertainment’s worth and got to meet popular names from both sides of the Causeway.

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Hafeez Glamour seen here with Ms. Aisyah Amirah and Mr. Haji Ismail Yusof, Assistant Director and Director of Doktor Kereta Pte. Ltd. right after his official announcement as Doktor Kereta Ambassador…

I understand that over the past month, there was some controversy pertaining to the local car dealing company. I don’t think it is appropriate for me to comment on the matter, as I am not involved directly at hand nor have read in detail what has transpired. However, the company has taken great pains to appoint a consultancy company, HalalHub Consultants Pte. Ltd. to help look into whatever grievances and shortcomings that might have occurred when dealing with their past customers. The consultancy company’s CEO, Ustaz Azmi Abdul Samad, lamented in his opening speech that he saw many complaints being made on Doktor Kereta‘s Facebook page but when they invited to meet those who had complained of poor service and claimed to have been “misled”, only a few have come forward so far. He, along with the car dealing company, hope that more will come forward, so that they can settle whatever misgivings, shortcomings and unhappiness amicably.

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Hafeez Glamour, posing in front of his newly-minted limousine with Mr. Sujimy Mohamad from Screenbox Pte. Ltd., Mr. Haji Ismail YusofMs. Aisyah Amirah, and Ustaz Azmi Abdul Samad, CEO of HalalHub Consultants Pte. Ltd

Bro Hafeez in his brief speech, expressed his gratitude at his appointment and hoped that it will bring back the confidence of the general public towards the company which has recently gone through a testing period in its existence. Passing useful advice to young artistes like Aisyah and Aliff Aziz in attendance, he said that such accolades are achievable through patience, hard work and to look beyond the hate that comes with the territory, to the point of forgiving, moreso in the unforgiving nature of the entertainment industry. As someone who is a veteran of the scene and has seen and experienced his fair share, those words certainly rang true. Congratulations to bro Hafeez Glamour on his recent appointment as ambassador of Doktor Kereta!!! Thank you once again for inviting me to cover the event as well as to the staff of Doktor Kereta for the kind hospitality… 🙂


Mini Monsters Books & Product Launch @ AFCC2015

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This entry sort of deviates slightly away from my usual entries in that it is not directly about Singapore‘s Malay entertainment scene per se. However, I still find it extremely relevant and important to share this with my readers as it involves an individual who has been a mainstay in our local Malay entertainment scene since she graced our television screens in the old days of Bengkel Kanak-Kanak TV SBC, and now as a highly-respected talkshow host that delves on social issues in our community. Rilla Melati Bahri, a name that needs no further introduction, has just launched her latest educational products via her company Mini Monsters Ltd. this past Sunday, 31st May 2015 at the National Library, in conjunction with the Asian Festival of Children’s Content 2015 event currently happening at the Plaza section of the building, from 30th May -6th June 2015.

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I was honoured to have been invited to cover this event, a momentous one I should add. Rilla, from the time I knew her years ago, has always been a strong advocate of good education and learning. She has always championed for our younger generation to be nurtured and cultivated in good learning techniques in the field of language and being comfortable in our mother tongue. In fact, these newly-launched products were conceived from her own experience more than a decade ago, as a young mother looking desperately for educational materials in Malay to aid her in teaching the language to her son, Nadim, in a fun way. Back then, there were hardly anything in Malay in the bookstores and toystores. Through this experience, she took it upon herself to do this project for other mothers with toddlers.

MiniMonstersBookLaunch2015 (3)A very decent turn-out at the launch event. Former national footballer Zulkarnaen Zainal (second row, left) was also in attendance…

Hence, the birth of Siri Bacaan Cekap Kanak-Kanak & CD Bacalah Bersama!”(Confident Reader Series & Audio Read-Along CD) and the collaboration with Masfe Sendirian Berhad for “Set Gantungan Pembelajaran” (Educational Wall Hanging Set) in Malay for toddlers aged two to six years. Mini Monsters are also proud to have been appointed the exclusive sole distributor of the first ever customised Malay educational wall-hanging resources and this exclusive collaboration between them and Masfe Sdn Bhd represents a like-minded approach between both companies in taking the learning of the Malay language to greater heights for children during their formative years.

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Rilla Melati addressing the audience and relating how the books and wall-hanging products came about…

This set comprises of mini detachable 2D “softies” which children can pull and paste to corresponding outlines on a standard thematic storyboard that comes with the Malay word to describe the individual softie. The educational objectives of this wall hanging resources are to cultivate early interest in reading through fun, interaction and play methodology, to develop children’s fine motor skills and encourage word-object recognition through touch-and-feel and to plant the seeds of love for the Malay language to children as young as 2 years old through visual stimulation. Although these sets are already in existent and used throughout Malaysia, this is the first time that the set is piloting in the Malay language exclusively for the Singapore market to be distributed by Mini Monsters Ltd. as a licensee.

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Role-play performance by participants of Mini Monsters‘ “LaguRIA” weekend workshops…
This educational wall-hanging paraphernalia will add on to Mini Monsters Ltd’s current staple of Malay educational resources and will help to spur its efforts in taking the teaching of the language to the younger age group of children i.e. toddlers and nursery-going kids. For a start, three thematic storyboards will be made available for the Singapore market. They are the Garden Insects Set, Jungle Animals Set & Transportation Set. These wall-hanging resources are made of colorful, non-toxic materials that are safe and have been tested and approved by the relevant authorities for use with children. Another interesting feature of these sets – they are handcrafted by communities in need in Malaysia. An effort Mini Monsters Ltd. is proud to support.
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As for the Siri Bacaan Cekap Kanak-Kanak & CD Bacalah Bersama!”(Confident Reader Series & Audio Read-Along CD), this set comprises of eight storybooks featuring characters inspired by the alphabets from the very popular Malay phonics reading system “Fonik Ria – Cepat Membaca” that was launched by Rilla and her Malay linguist father Drs Bahri Rajib at the same festival in 2013 and a read-along CD comprising of all the eight titles narrated by the author in Malay. For the uninitiated, “Fonik Ria – Cepat Membaca” was created to develop literacy skills for children learning to read Malay. Back then, Mini Monsters Ltd. had launched “Siri Bacaan Awal Kanak-Kanak” (Children’s Beginner Reader Series) in 2013 for pre-schoolers aged 4-6 as a complementing set.
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The newly-launched educational products by Mini Monsters Ltd
Today, expounding on the success of the previous series and the positive response Mini Monsters Ltd. have obtained from many parents, teachers and children alike, another eight titles have been added to this continuous effort of growing and complementing their reading system with its own customised set of reader series. This new set – “Siri Bacaan Cekap Kanak-Kanak” (Children’s Confident Reader Series) aims to create and develop fluency in children who can already read, and guide children to continue to read independently. The accompanying Audio Read-Along CD meanwhile, aims to assist in building upon a child’s imagination and listening skills, expose the child to the Malay language through reading and listening at the same time and encourage parent-child bonding.
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The staff of Mini Monsters are ever ready to welcome you to their booth till this Saturday 6th June 2015
Parents can choose to listen to the story with the child, anywhere, anytime. Together, this set hopes to create a wholesome reading experience for the child and plant the seeds of love for the Malay language in the hearts of budding readers!!! This new set also completes the “Fonik Ria Cepat Membaca” reading system, making it one of, if not the only, locally developed and produced Malay phonics reading system for children that is comprehensive, unique and attractive as an educational teaching tool for the development of Malay language in Singapore. You can get these educational resources from the Mini Monsters Ltd. booth at the Plaza @ NLB building between 30th May to 6th June 2015, as well as their other Malay language educational resource materials, publications and Malay language course details that they conduct for schools and the public. Or you can purchase them online via the Mini Monsters Ltd webpage.  Congratulations to Mini Monsters Ltd. for this successful launch and thank you once again for inviting me and the family to grace this lovely event… 🙂

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…


Kasih Berbisik Media Conference

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(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

You would have seen the music video by Taufik Batisah singing his latest single “Menakluk Cinta” on Mediacorp Suria since it was first aired right after the recent National Day Parade. It is probably from that music video that you would have taken note of an upcoming drama series titled “Kasih Berbisik” (Whispers of the Heart), that will soon be aired on the said channel. This joint production by leading Free-to-Air TV channels Mediacorp Suria and TV3 will bring you a moving drama of heartache, hope and unbreakable bonds of love, spanning three countries. Conceived and written by prolific script writer, Mr. Hamed Ismail, and directed by Jamal Khan, this tear-jerker has finally come to fruition after three years in the works.

(YouTube clip courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

Set against the backdrop of metropolitan Singapore, lush green fields of Malaysia and exotic Bali, the 13-episode drama series debuts for the first time simultaneously on TV3 and MediaCorp Suria on 1 October 2014 at 9pm and 9.30pm respectively. Its main and supporting cast members include Nurul Aini and Nick Mikhail from Singapore, Remy Ishak, Keith Foo and Tasha Shilla from Malaysia, as well as Demmy Febriana from Indonesia. Jointly produced by Mediacorp Eaglevision and Primeworks Studios, the collaboration is aimed at producing a high-quality drama series that appeal to audiences in Singapore and Malaysia, leveraging on both parties’ expertise in High-Definition (HD) TV production.

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The stage all set for the media conference…

I was extremely honoured to once again be invited by Mediacorp Suria to cover the media conference and exclusive screening held last Friday 19 September 2014 at Golden Village Grand Great World City. This was essentially my first time covering a media conference for an upcoming drama series and one which is monumental in that it is a joint-production between two countries featuring the scenic scenes, backdrop and actors from three countries. This was also probably the first time that I’ve been to a media conference where fans were allowed to soak in the atmosphere as well. At times, it felt a bit chaotic when the fans got excited seeing their favourite artistes, but generally they were well-behaved and I could see many smiling faces, contented with their respective signatures and photographs. The media conference was hosted by none other than Fauzie Laily.

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The main cast of “Kasih Berbisik” – (from left) Keith Foo, Remy Ishak, Nick Mikhail, Nurul Aini, Tasha Shilla and Demmy Febriana

I believe for the fans (a large majority were females, may I add) who paid to attend the media conference, it was rewarding enough to have been in close proximity to heart-throbs like Remy Ishak and Keith Foo. Even more rewarding when they witnessed Taufik Batisah himself making an appearance to sing the official soundtrack of the upcoming drama series live. Taufik it must be said, has matured so much since we were first introduced to his singing talents on national television exactly ten years ago. He was cracking jokes with the audience, sometimes even acting like a co-host and even took the time to promote his upcoming album launch this Sunday 28 September 2014, 6pm at Causeway Point. Ten years in the scene, he has blossomed and become more outgoing and even forthcoming in comparison to his earlier years in the scene.

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Taufik never fails to make the ladies swoon with his mere presence…

But where there was something good to say about Taufik Batisah, a not-so-pleasant vibe emanated when I was observing two of the main casts that night. I will not mention names but for those who were there, might probably agree with what I have to say. One was seen looking detached and uninterested with the whole proceedings, while another was seen fiddling and constantly checking on her handphone, even when she was up onstage facing the audience, not only made up of the fans, but fellow members of the media from Singapore and Malaysia, as well as the important heads from Mediacorp Malay Broadcast Division and Media Prima Berhad. I am just glad that the likes of Taufik, Nurul Aini and Nick Mikhail showed class and accorded respect towards those who came to watch them.

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Important figures behind the joint TV production – (from left): Ms. Zakiah Halim (Senior Vice President of Mediacorp Malay Broadcast Division), Ms. Siti Nurlisia Mohd. Nadzri (TV3 General Manager), Mr. Suhaimi Jais (Senior Vice President of Mediacorp Studios and Mediacorp Eaglevision) and Mr. Azhar Borhan (Group General Manager Production and Operations of Primeworks Studios)…

Two back-to-back episodes of “Kasih Berbisik” were screened exclusively that night before its TV debut. Just to give you a gist, it is a 13-episode drama based on love, separation and friendship revolving around an architect, Imran (Remy Ishak), who goes on a business trip to Bali and falls in love with Sulastri (Demmy Febriana), a Balinese dancer. Eventually, Imran marries Sulastri and keeps his second marriage a secret from his wife of 6 years, Nora (Nurul Aini). Imran also has a best friend, Andi (Nick Mickhail) who admires Sulastri. In an unexpected twist, Sulastri’s ex-fiancé, Dharma (Keith Foo), vows to win her back. Dharma is clouded by anger and vengeance when he finds out that Sulastri is married to Imran. Will Nora and Dharma accept their fate as second best? How long can Imran keep his second marriage with Sulastri a secret from Nora?

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Tasha Shilla entertaining one of the fans, while Remy Ishak was busy signing autographs on the promotional posters…

From what I’ve seen that night, and from speaking to fellow attendees from the media, the general consensus I got and personally felt was, the episodes were kinda draggy. I dunno if it was because the screening started an hour later than scheduled, due to the casts’ meet-and-greet session with the fans and various interviews with the media brigade, and people (myself included) were feeling tired after a long day. The buildup to what’s to come in the show felt a bit slow and when the second marriage was announced in one of the scenes, it felt like the director was pushing for an impactful outcome out of the blue. But what do I know about watching such drama series??? Am never a big fan of long episodic dramas involving love and romance. I just don’t have the patience for it. For the record, let me state there’s nothing wrong with the acting from all the casts involved, just that the storyline I feel could have been developed better and to give a good introduction to each individual character.

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Nurul Aini, Keith Foo, Nick Mikhail and Demmy Febriana likewise were busy signing autographs on the promotional posters as well…

To be fair, two episodes might not tell a bigger picture nor relate the whole story, and that one should actually watch the series religiously to find out the twists and turns involving this complicated love saga. Fans of the two Malaysian heart-throbs would definitely not care at all about the storyline so long as they could feast their eyes on their idols weekly. My only concern was watching how the likes of Nurul Aini and Nick Mikhail performed when given their big break to go regional. Though I’ve heard rumours of how they were scolded by the lead actor for not giving their all, I thought both of them gave a good account of themselves and I really hope this will be their breakthrough drama and join the likes of those who have been success stories across the Causeway. No matter the artiste, I am always proud when I hear one of our own making a name for themselves abroad.

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Final group photo with the main casts, crew and television station heads…

As for Taufik Batisah, I hope as well that the soundtrack to this drama series, would go the same way as how “Seribu Tahun” had given Imran Ajmain so much success and newly-opened doors across the Causeway. For those not in the know or have forgotten, “Seribu Tahun” was the soundtrack to the drama series “Kerana Cintaku Saerah” on TV3 back in 2007. Ten years in the scene and still to be a household name regionally, I sincerely hope that “Menakluk Cinta” would go on to be an added success to the one that Taufik achieved through his duet with Rossa, “Aku Bersahaja“. “Menakluk Cinta” which was penned by Taufik himself, has every potential to be a haunting hit across our shores. It has been playing regularly in my head for the past few weeks or so leading up to the media conference and even moreso after I had watched the screening of the two back-to-back episodes. As mentioned earlier, “Kasih Berbisik” will air on TV3 and MediaCorp Suria on 1 October 2014 at 9pm and 9.30pm respectively.

Highlights of Kasih Berbisik Media Conference


Imran Ajmain’s “Setulus Kasih” Album Launch…

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Last Saturday (19 April 2014), situated at the Play Den, The Arts House, Imran Ajmain launched his third career album in front of a bevy of local media representatives, his friends from the local Malay entertainment scene, loyal followers from his Imtiaz fan club and other invited guests. The album titled “Setulus Kasih” (Pure Love) is a seven-track tapestry of love notes and empowering words for womankind. I’d like to call it an “Ode to Women” after listening to six of the songs performed by Imran that day, lyrics which gratify and giving gratitude to women of all ages, for their sacrifices and love. I think this album’s launch is apt, in the middle of International Women’s Day (8 March) and the upcoming annual Mothers’ Day celebrations on the second weekend of May, even though no mention of this was made that day.

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Imran doesn’t need extravagant settings and backdrop for his showcases. His voice and storytelling alone more than make up for it. In fact, it is a reflection of his humility…

This album has been long-awaited, given that it was supposed to be released last year, but due to Imran‘s family bereavement, the launch was delayed for about a year, with him taking time off from the scene to spend with his beloved mother. Now back with a renewed vigour, Imran has released his album exclusively with Spotify. In case you dunno by now, Spotify is a commercial music streaming service providing digital rights management-restricted content from established and renowned record labels like Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal. One is able to listen to albums for free without the need to download the songs. Spotify is also available as an application that you can download into your respective iPhones, Androids and Blackberries. For the record, the digital album was officially launched by none other than PERKAMUS President, Cikgu Yusnor Ef.

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Imran Ajmain and Cikgu Yusnor Ef…

Dispensing with melancholic and sappy ballads which he has been known for since bursting into the scene in 2007, Imran has painstakingly injected a positive and motivating outlook in all his songs this time round. A special feature of this album is that all the songs were written by himself with first-time composers and lyricists from Singapore, a project that spanned over two years. One thing I will always enjoy sitting in an Imran Ajmain‘s showcase over the years (and I am a huge fan of his music if you don’t already know by now), is that it has lots of substance, not just plain singing, nor just saying hello-goodbye-thank you to his fans. He makes the effort to relate something from his experiences in life or describe the trials and tribulations he has to go through into composing a particular song he is about to sing or have just sung. This recent album launch was no different.

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Dato’ Fazley Yaakob making a surprise appearance…

What he certainly did not expect was the surprise appearance of his boss, Dato’ Fazley Yaakob, owner of FIPro (Fazley International Productions Sdn. Bhd.). When Imran was about to play Dato’ Fazley‘s congratulatory greetings footage on his album launch, the technical guys purposely refused to play the video clip and instead Dato’ Fazley himself came in with some of the members of Imran‘s fan club, Imtiaz, with a birthday cake and singing him the birthday song. I could see from the looks of the faces of those in attendance, how equally surprised they were and of course some of the ladies gushing at how good looking Dato’ Fazley is. It was a befitting tribute and advanced birthday celebration for Imran (who celebrated his 33rd birthday yesterday 25th April 2014), who I know has contributed to the growth of FIPro through his creative ideas.

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Imran‘s fan club members – Imtiaz – coming forward with gifts for his surprise advanced birthday celebrations…

I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Imran Ajmain on the launch of his “Setulus Kasih” album as well as wish him many happy returns on his 33rd birthday, albeit belatedly by a day. May this album mark another milestone and growth in Imran‘s steady career and may he achieve more success than ever before. You can now listen to his digital album live via Spotify or if you are the traditional kind and would like to get your hands on its physical CD format, it will be made available in an event that will happen on 7 June 2014. The CD will be sold and proceeds will go to An-Nur Mosque in Marsiling, of which Imran is a benefactor. All for a good cause, so why not lend our support to Imran and the mosque on that day??? 🙂

 


Farisha Ishak’s “Aligned” Album Launch Media Conference…

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It’s been almost half a year since her coronation as “The Final 1” on Mediacorp Channel 5‘s reality singing competition held last year. Over the past five months or so since her win, she has been working hard behind the scenes, recording her debut album which finally made its way in local music stores (CD RAMA) on 28 January 2014. However the media conference held in conjunction with the album launch was held slightly later, about a week after the CDs have been made available, on 6 February 2014. The event was held at The Star Loft, situated on the eleventh floor of The Star Performing Arts Centre in Buona Vista. In a way, it was a full circle for Farisha as she was conferred the title of “The Final 1” at the same building on 21 August 2013.

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Farisha being interviewed by Elliot Danker

Those who had followed “The Final 1” competition since the start would note that Farisha was a model of consistency week in and out. I remember being very impressed by her showing since the very first episode. Besides Farisha, I had other favourites as well but when one by one got eliminated in the competition in the early stages, I felt that the competition was hers to be won at a canter, no disrespect to the other participants. And she did!!! I was mesmerised by her rendition of “Tonight” during the Grand Finals cos I never thought she could pull off a song with an upbeat tempo as well as when she sings ballads and slow numbers. She was a worthy winner that night and the final result was never in doubt.

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Farisha performed three songs during the event…

Back to her album launch. Titled “Aligned“, the album consists of nine original compositions, six in English and the remaining three in Malay. Of note, three of the songs found in her album, “Life Is Beautiful“, “Hidup Ini Indah” and “Stranded“, were penned by this talented 19-year old. During the media conference event, I was intrigued by how calm, confident and eloquent Farisha was when posed with questions from host Elliot Danker. Some new artistes need a bit of coaxing to describe themselves or even their songs / albums, but Farisha displayed the kind of confidence seen in seasoned professionals.  Of course I will not describe in detail what went on during the event as you can view highlights of them in the short clip I have managed to put up and included at the end of this entry.

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Farisha being interviewed by RIA 89.7FM‘s Aura Shai

All I can say after observing Farisha, how she tackles the media and most importantly, how she enjoys herself onstage is that generally, I am excited to see how far she can progress in this small music industry of ours and whether she can push on and make waves abroad. With her willingness and determination to improve on her shortcomings, her confidence in being bilingual (even though she admits she could improve on her mother tongue), I feel that over time, the regional audience would warm up to her and she could be our best female export. Though her looks remind me of Malaysia‘s Nurul Wahab, her talent if nurtured well and she reaches diva status, a comparison with Dato’ Sheila Majid cannot be too far away.

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Get Farisha‘s “Aligned” album at all CD RAMA outlets now!!!

To Farisha, congratulations Adik on your album launch. I really, really hope that your career will take off from here, that the masses will receive your songs and album in kind, and of course, lend you their utmost support, even more than the one they gave during “The Final 1” competition. Keep your feet on the ground, remain humble as you already are and continue to improve on all aspects so that you can be an all-rounded performer. Wish you nothing but success in your music career and maybe someday, you will be willing to spread your wings and soar to even greater heights. As your mentor Taufik Batisah would say, “The sky’s the limit…”

P.S. Thank you to Hype Records and Artiste Networks for the kind invitation to this memorable event… 🙂

Snapshots of Farisha’s Album Launch Media Conference Event…