PujanggaMalam.com – Ten Years On…

DKM

I actually typed this entry way back in 2010 and left it in the Drafts section because I wanted to make a victory speech of sorts as a means to hit out at my haters and detractors who were undermining me for my entries, commentaries and analysis. This was initially meant to be an entry to silence and show them, “Hey, if the mainstream media has finally recognised my work for them to invite me to cover their events, then I must have been doing something right all along!!!” Also I did not realise I have reached this milestone till the recent Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza concert, which dawned on me that I have been blogging for the past ten years since February 2004. It has been a long journey, filled with ups and downs, joy, bliss, rejections, and for the first time at Dato Siti‘s concert, embarrassment and humiliation in the presence of my fellow media counterparts (more on that in my upcoming review of the concert).

Sinar Lebaran 2013 2013-07-05 1270The Mediacorp Suria staff (whom I share a good working relationship with) with the Ratu Suria contestants post-Sinar Lebaran 2013

I used to and still feel small whenever I am invited to cover any entertainment events, for the fact that I am mostly a one-man team. There is nothing spectacular about my blog either, as I do not have the expertise to create a more vibrant design, nor add adverts or frilly scripts to make it more pleasing to the eye, being the tech idiot that I am. I also do not have the luxury of a fellow writer, photographer or videographer tagging along with me. My wife helps me out from time to time with recording video snippets but even then, I find it tedious and time consuming having to edit and upload them afterwards. Already editing photographs take up a lot of my personal time. Through entertainment blogging, I find joy in attending live shows, getting to know people in the industry as well as learn and understand why certain things are what they are, especially when the general public demands to know why certain things cannot be done or impossible to execute, for instance.

Another set of people I enjoy working with, the radio fraternity…

Through such learning experiences over the years, I developed a more empathic approach towards producing a balanced entry. I now try to be more understanding why certain things transpire and even when things go wrong, I am able to forgive and give benefit of doubt. I am very sure those who have followed this blog for the longest time would note how much I have mellowed down since when I first started out with all guns blazing whenever I see something to my chagrin. Bombing away and forming seething (and sometimes wild) observations, used to be the hallmark of my entries, but I still maintained decorum and without the need to use vulgarities to get my points across. I believe this was partly why I was finally received by Mediacorp Suria to cover their events beginning with Anugerah 2009. I am also honoured to be the first Malay blogger back then to have broken barriers and opened the doors for more to join in covering entertainment events.

Covering one of my close friends’ wedding (DJ KC & Fiza O) was one of the highlights of the past ten years…

This blog has indeed come a long, long way since I first started out using Blogspot as my host. Not to sound calculative with what I had done to increase the stature and reputation of this blog, but this domain of mine has witnessed evolution from its humble beginnings. From grainy photographs taken from my Nokia handphone, to buying a high-end DSLR camera, complete with extended zoom lens as well as a video camera, these were my commitment to the cause of providing quality pictures and video snippets of events and shows I attended. Oh and how can I forget how my domain’s logo and watermark changing over the years to give it a more professional outlook??? Previously it was just a simple word on photographs before I realised they were ugly and spoiling them. That’s when I made trials and errors on the watermark logo before finalising what you see today.

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I did not get to blog on bro Hafeez Glamour‘s “Demi Adriana” book launch due to my busy schedule back then, but I did share photos I took that day in my Facebook account…

You can regard whatever evolution or small changes I’ve done to improve or increase the reputation and quality of my blog, or even whatever promos or reviews I’ve done all these years, as my community service to provide useful information on our local Malay entertainment scene, introducing new acts, reacquaint others with established ones, providing differing views from mainstream media and providing a useful resource in general. From time to time I have people working in the scene thanking me for what I have done, assisting them with valuable information in the process, and it fills me with pride that I have gone in someway to help others, even though I felt like I have done nothing much. It has been a joy so far covering events, helping out with promos and fundings, sharing joyous moments of celebrity weddings, attending concerts and awards shows, book / product / album / single / music video launches, behind-the-scenes filming etc., even if they sometimes come with pain and heartache which most are unaware.

Sri Warisan, very forthcoming and easy to work with when I helped to promo their Bendahara: The Musical event…

Like all those who dare to tread on whatever paths they deem as right or answering the call of passion / challenge, I have faced numerous obstacles and heartbreaks, some of which have affected my relationship with friends I once regarded as siblings. Like anyone who has dared to venture in this line or in this industry, I too have had my fair share of doubters, haters, brickbats and detractors over the years, from comments left in my entries to smses on radio segments, in blog posts right down to Twitter, Facebook, Youtube and the now defunct Multiply site. People questioned my credibility and qualifications in pouring forth my thoughts across, not to mention those that have bitched about my flawed interest in the entertainment scene and how I was just trying to fit in and make a name for myself. Cos truth be told, I’m not cut out to be a singer / actor / host / radio presenter – possible career paths which at some point of time in my life I had tried to be involved or had some interest in, but did not work out. But what did not kill me only made me stronger.

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Covering the whole edition of Ratu Suria was an unforgettable experience for the fact that I had to defend the contestants alot in the face of online criticisms, bombarding them from their looks down to their level of intellect…

Call me arrogant or conceited for dedicating an entry reminiscing my past ten years in entertainment blogging, but I believe I have come a long way to proving that what I have been doing for the past decade have always been genuine, sincere, honest, patient, responsible, having self-belief and having loads of passion for the media / entertainment line – seven important traits you need to possess to survive in this harsh industry. The good people who have kindly invited me to cover their events, other than the Malay Broadcast Division of Mediacorp (Suria, Warna 94.2FM and RIA 89.7FM), might have taken notice of those values and principles I so dearly hold on to, and for that I’m extremely thankful to them for acknowledging the work I had painstakingly put up all these while. Even though I am unable to attend all of these invites to launches or shows due to work and family commitments, I still appreciate the invitations and feel honoured that people do recognise my efforts.

I was honoured to have covered Rita Zahara‘s heritage cookbook launch back in January 2012

Unlike other famous entertainment bloggers across the Causeway, I’m not paid to do what I enjoy doing and even though I’m only doing it as a hobby during my recreational time, I try to give off my best, every single damn time. Most of the concerts I had reviewed so far in my domain, I paid with my hard-earned money and received no sponsorship whatsoever nor official accreditation from the respective organisers. Even when I try to get accreditation, most of the time, my requests were turned down or comes with certain limitations. Which is why till today I am a bit peeved with certain concert / show / event organisers, why they can invite foreign entertainment bloggers and even pay them to cover their events when a small fry like myself who is trying to help and promote new acts for free featured in their concerts, did not even receive any invite to cover and still had to pay to enter the concert venue.

And Fiza O‘s beauty product launch a month after, possibly the first Malay personality to lend her name to a beauty product…

There is something seriously wrong with the local Malay entertainment industry when foreign journalists / bloggers are being paid to cover events and shows, yet the local ones are not being considered or thought of. Also I find it perplexing till this day when I got to know some of our local acts had to sell tickets to one of their concerts to earn their rightful commissions, whereas the foreign acts featured together did not have to go through that form of treatment. While I appreciate the organisers wanting to instil a sense of business-minded tact in our local acts, it creates a form of quiet discontent, that there is a form of double standards being practised, especially when the foreign artistes were being paid and provided lodging without having to sell the concert tickets. And I do not blame them for feeling low and down as a result. Over the years, I’ve been like an Agony Aunt to some of the problems faced by our local acts, and from time to time, will highlight their plights in my entries.

Another momentous moment in 2012 was covering Siti Zahidah‘s album launch and showcase…

Another gripe I have with some local event organisers is their lack of gratitude. Back in 2012, I had planned to cover an event which showcased solely on upcoming local acts. It was a free concert held outside a community club. Out of respect, I just messaged the organisers to say I would like to cover their event and record video snippets of the performers. The plan was to introduce some of these acts on my domain, so people would be made aware of their talents. The reply I received was the event was not theirs per se, but the community club’s so they were unsure if they could allow me to record any video snippets. I was extremely fine with that till I came and saw so many in the audience recording away via their smartphones and iPads. In addition, I did not see any staff from the community club overseeing the whole event or anyone stopping these people from recording.

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Another event I covered but did not manage to blog about was the Te:RaSeh! Road Tour last May

Here I am trying to do a kind service for our local acts, yet my intentions got knocked back just because of a trivial reason and lack of responsibility. Suffice to say, I have refrained from attending any events or shows organised by this event organiser till today. I just cannot understand people turning down free promos online, when they have to fork out hundreds for a space on mainstream media. For the longest time, I have refrained from charging a fee to do promos and write-ups. Because I know our local industry does not pay as well as that across the Causeway with production houses and other organisations limited with fundings. I have been asked by people close to me, why have I not charged or earned anything out of what I enjoy doing??? There is simply no market for it over here, sad to say, or companies would be loathed to part their money for a simple promo.

Den Sabari and Huda Ali‘s wedding back in July 2010 was the first celebrity wedding I covered in this domain…

Speaking of promos, I’ve had over the years event /expo organisers taking my photographs on the Net without asking for my permission, even if my watermark is there for all to see. I will not go as far as saying they “stole” my photographs, even though the promotional photos used have clearly wiped them out, or just a cutout image of the artistes featured. I cannot blame the organisers fully, as from one classic example recently, I found out that the ones doing their promotional poster design was from an external department, a case of communication breakdown somewhere during their planning stages. Something they could have avoided doing when they agreed on what photos that could be used. But me being the ever-forgiving one, will always give others the benefit of doubt and accept people sometimes overlook these sort of things.

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Another one of those events I covered, but only shared in my Facebook account, Fiesta Suria 2013

If I want to be extremely anal about this, I could even bang on their doors and ask for a cut of their earnings, cos seriously expo events are a business windfall to some of these organisers and helping them promote via your photographs, you definitely feel that you deserve at least a little token of appreciation. For concerts and shows, it’s 50-50. One can earn a lot if your show is a sell-out, but what if only a handful turn out??? Even I won’t be so mean and damning as to want a certain cut from their earnings, cos I’ve heard some companies closing down after organising a big-scale sell-out concert in Singapore. Strange fact but true. Maybe I’m too nice or feel the legal route can be messy. But we are a small nation with an even smaller community. I don’t wish to kill or create ill feelings out of such matters, but sometimes people don’t realise that being the big fish, they forget simple ethics and courtesy. Sometimes I wonder, is it so difficult to seek permission or reward in kind???

A significant landmark for me was attending Hyrul Anuar‘s “Mata” music video launch back in September 2011, possibly the first of its kind in our local Malay entertainment scene…

I have to admit that I cannot be a journalist as I’m never able to meet datelines or type in a brief and concise manner. My entries are testament to how long-winded I can be. This entry is no different than the rest. I cringe and feel extremely uncomfortable when the term “celebrity blogger” is used on me, nor like to be called and considered one, cos to be one, you need to get thousands of hits daily and doing it on a full-time basis. My domain’s visitorship is not even 400 on most days. Being a celebrity blogger also means you have to share your private life or what you do on an almost daily basis. I am not prepared to be scrutinised, have my privacy exposed and subject my loved ones to be ridiculed or ogled at, especially since I have two young daughters. Some quarters have also labeled me as a “photographer”, but I am just comfortable being known as an “entertainment blogger”, thank you very much!!!

Thanks to Mini Monsters, I was able to cover the launch of their “Lagu-Lagu Kita CD”, aimed to preserve the heritage of songs we grew up with and to continue its legacy for the coming generations…

When this blog first started out in 2004, I did talk about my life just like any decent blogger out there. I think I also shared some of my photographs taken with famous personalities. I was also more vocal and critical when it came to reviewing and assessing shows / concerts I attended. But as my blog statistics rise over the years, I began to shy away from talking about my private life or putting up photos of myself, or with personalities, preferring instead to highlight the real stars themselves on this blog. With more eyes glued on this domain, building networks with people in the industry, gaining some form of respect through my brutal honesty, as well as being aware of the implications I might run into because of my often-harsh comments, I believe over the years, I have matured as a blogger and being more responsible and tactful with what I say or put across. I believe that nowadays I blog more with my head than my heart.

(Photograph courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

I will forever be thankful to Mediacorp Suria for inviting me to keep goal for them in the tournament that honoured my late uncle, the legendary Dollah Kassim from 2010-2012

Which might explain why some people have wondered of late, how come I’ve gone soft and less scathing for the past three or four years. Perhaps fatherhood has changed me to be more understanding, to be more forgiving, to be more tolerant and of course to be more accepting of what is presented in front of me. I know I began as a gun-toting, trailblazing, devil-may-care writer (or typist), but it is only effective to a certain extent. People respect views when it comes from the heart, but at the same time, the head needs to balance the emotions so that one does not become too critical or damning. Anyway, my network has grown over the years. Any criticisms that I dish out henceforth, needs to be laced with a certain degree of empathy or at the very least, giving others that benefit of doubt. I don’t just look at things from my point of view but also from the points of those I am commenting on. This holistic approach might soften my style, but I am sure you know I will not mince my words when I experience the red mist.

Am glad to say I was physically there when Fiza O celebrated her 30th birthday and simultaneously announced she was getting married to her colleague, DJ KC

Being popular and mentioned in the same breath as artistes is not what I had intentionally set out to do. Unable to realise my dreams as a singer / actor / host / radio DJ were also not the main reasons why I became a blogger whose entries are focused on our local Malay entertainment scene, mostly on the musical side of it. I believe there is only so much we can rely on our print media as they have their own limitations and space constraints in terms of monthly / daily publication release, what they can talk about and how much they can feature. Personally, I would like to see more people doing what I’m doing, cos it would be nice to hear differing views and opinions on our local entertainment industry. It would also add more colour and vibrancy since our industry is slowly growing and expanding. I became a blogger who types on local Malay entertainment stuff because there was a dearth and general scarcity in people doing it. I hope more would be inspired to follow my path, given that blogging at one point of time, was quite in and spread across the generations.

Attending events like Sinaran Hati makes one appreciative of the efforts of the artistes who set aside time to give back to the community…

Hand on heart, I would rather remain in the background than be what my haters claimed me to be, and to quote one comment I stumbled upon years ago, that I am “feeling-feeling artis gitu“, probably due to the fact that I dressed to the nines on a number of occasions that I attended previous music award shows. I was merely respecting the occasion and since my weight was ballooning, I couldn’t fit into my old shirts and had to rely on my kind outfitters. If people have a big problem with that, then so be it. I might have uploaded some of my personal photographs in my Facebook account, which I apologise is only limited to those I know personally, but to share them in my blog is a bit too much to ask for. I do not understand where these people get the idea that I’m using the blogging medium as a means to prostitute myself and be famous. If people appreciate what I do as a yeoman service, then it gives me as much pleasure to provide them with news, promotions and reviews of events, concerts and shows which some of them did not manage to attend, or for those who did, to relive them all over again. What I wear to these events are very much secondary.

One of the events I enjoyed covering – the outdoor Festival Melayu Ada gigs, organised by Cokelat Events and Zaibaktian

This entry was typed not only to celebrate and reminisce this blog’s journey over the past ten years, but was typed both as a means of defiance to the brickbats as well as to give hope to aspiring writers / bloggers out there that if your intentions are genuine, sincere in your approach, passionate in what you do, honest in how you think, responsible in what you say, having faith in yourself and being patient in the face of adversity, one day your efforts will eventually be recognised, people will begin to respect your views, readers will learn to accept and trust you, knowing full well that you’re not merely running your mouth off for the sake of it. People will be able to discern whether you command respect or lack thereof. It took me five years to finally receive official credibility from a very distinguished national media, a long time frame that perhaps could break one’s resolve if your intentions are flawed or you are chasing after personal agendas, fame or glory.

If not for celebrity blogger, Diah Mastura, who could not make it to this event, I would not have been able to feature this exclusive showcase of Anuar Zain in my blog back in 2011

Even if I’m not invited again to cover future events after this entry is published and people think I’ve suddenly grown too big for my own shoes by harping about my personal achievements, I think I would be happy and assured to know that future Malay entertainment bloggers, if there are any others in the first place, could always hang on to the hope that anything is possible so long as they stick to the seven traits I stressed upon in the earlier paragraphs. I would love to have added an eighth trait which is humility. But I’m afraid some of you out there would gleefully point out that I am being hypocritical by talking about what I have achieved so far in this entry, which of course would undermine everything I’ve mentioned. However, I believe people who meet and get to know me personally would be better and wise judges of that. Cos words typed on screen have an eerie tendency of having double meanings or tones, which in turn can sometimes mislead into swaying one’s judgements of a person, since you do not know if he is being serious or joking.

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My very first album launch event I covered back in December 2006, Imran Ajmain‘s debut album “Dengan Secara Kebetulan“…

I’m more or less a grounded person, and I don’t believe in holding extravagant parties just to celebrate the anniversary of this blog or my existence in the scene. Heck I even forgot that I have reached this milestone till I was on the verge of covering Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza‘s concert last weekend. That’s how much I feel that such celebrations are unnecessary. Even if I can afford to do that, I will still not do it. I think the money is better off spent somewhere or donate to charity / welfare organisations. Anyway, am just considered a “Kucing Kurap” in the scene, which is why sometimes when I cover events, I get restricted privileges or am limited with the things I can share or feature in this blog. I don’t expect nor want anyone to do any celebrations for me either, cos every entry for me is a celebration to those that I feature, the real stars themselves.

The very first media conference I attended – Suria Elektra – in February 2010

I know too well that over the years, I have ruffled a lot of feathers with my honest-to-goodness comments, be it in my blog entries or even comments made on radio segments. I am naturally a very opinionated person and a non-conformist. I can be tactless sometimes and too brutal, to the point I do not mince my words when I am really pissed off. Which is why, it is best that sometimes I cool down before typing my coming entry with a clear head and with a better choice of vocabulary I can use to describe what I feel. To those who have been at the brunt or wrong end of my lambasting words, insinuations, points of reference, examples and felt small, angered or even disappointed, I am taking this opportunity to apologise for words that might have hurt you. I am only human, and I try all the time to improve on how I address things as they come. I cherish every friendship and acquaintanceship I make along the way.

Covering Anugerah Planet Muzik, an event very much close to my heart, is something I look forward to annually…

To all who believed and have placed your trust in me for the past ten years, and continue to be loyal and silent readers of this domain, words cannot describe how thankful and appreciative I am to you. I will continue striving to provide good reviews and better quality photographs of events, concerts and shows, launches, celebrity weddings etc. I attend in time to come, and I will always be thankful to those I had worked with and continue to be sharing a good working relationship like the Malay Broadcast Division of Mediacorp (Suria, Warna 94.2FM and RIA 89.7FM), Manggiz, Sri Warisan, Cokelat Events, Gridmedia Productions, ATeR | ReTA, Mini Monsters, WorkHeart, Gumbira, amongst many others I am unable to mention thanks to my ageing memory. Also, to all the lovely celebrity couples who have allowed me the privilege to cover your respective wedding events and shared the joyous moments with my readers. This blog is nothing without your kind support… 🙂

Ratu Suria Grand Finals Review…

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I purposely post this entry a week after the competition series ended for the fact that I do not foresee much entries that I will be making between now and March, so a little breather is more than welcome. Afterall, I have been quite diligent with my weekly reviews over the course of the competition. I know most of you who are not linked to me via social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram would not see the photographs I snapped, unless you follow the contestants themselves. So fret not, because this penultimate review on Mediacorp Suria‘s inaugural beauty-cum-talent search competition will have hundreds of them featured, even more than what I normally upload for your viewing pleasure. So where do I begin??? With the choice of the winner, Fatin Amira, of course!!!

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Like the first episode, Sezairi Sezali opened the show, this time performing Dato’ Sheila Majid‘s “Ratu“…

Fatin‘s coronation as the first winner of Ratu was in truth, no surprise to yours truly, and I’m sure to regular viewers of the series as well. She has been very consistent since Episode 4, has a very strong grasp and understanding of the Malay language, confident, composed and dare I say, a certain air of nonchalance which sets her apart from her fellow competitors. I did not say explicitly who were my favourites to win but along with Wida Alisa, both of them were my personal two choices to win the competition, with no disrespect to the other finalists, even though physical beauty-wise, the others had the edge. It was a matter of who was to blink or make that odd mistake that would sway the odds against their favour. I did say in my preview of the Grand Finals, the one who would win would be the one who maintained their poise and composure and not be let down by small mistakes and this was true, as Fatin aced almost every segment that night.

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Fauzie Laily and Marina Yusoff‘s onstage chemistry was one of the plus points of the competition series…

I saw several comments online from sour grapes who questioned the choice of anointing Fatin as the winner as she is not as pretty as some of her fellow contestants. The aim of this competition was not merely to choose who is the most good-looking or who is the most popular. The aim was to choose an all-round winner, someone who is not only good-looking but a person of holistic substance. She has to be intelligent and media savvy, confident in the way she carries herself and have a certain degree of raw potential that could be polished in time to come as a television personality in hosting or acting. In Fatin Amira, I have no doubt that she was the right choice by the judges who carried the heavy responsibility of choosing a winner who could be someone we can be proud of in time to come – a beauty with brains. Above all, I am convinced that Fatin is ready to face the media across the Causeway, whom we all know are more harsh than our own and will always be ready to find faults and not give an inch, what more a yard.

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The Top 6 Finalists!!!

Why I said I am convinced, is how consistent and calm she has been at answering questions throughout the competition. Even when she was interviewed by Hafeez Glamour in his Go Glam radio programme the day after her win, she answered several difficult questions with ease, even those questions that were posed to her fellow finalists during the Grand Finals itself. When she appeared a second time during Dzar Ismail and Nity Baizura‘s Personality Zoom segment last Friday, I posed a challenging question on how she would react if the President of Seniman were to question her credibility and presence in their scene. Her answer suitably impressed me, saying that she is new and will no doubt learn from the people she is working with to improve on her flaws. Opportunities are also available everywhere for people to work and add value to a certain industry, no matter which country they are working at. She ended by saying that people should just widen their mentality and not be hampered by selfish interests. No doubt she is ready and feisty, willing to face the challenges in store.

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The panel of judges sharing a laugh when Aaron Aziz (hidden) made his point across…

I will not put down Wida Alisa for her gaffe that night. I think enough of criticisms online have been hurled at her and I am sure she did not mean what she said on purpose. We all make mistakes, it was just unfortunate that such an error was made on live television, under such pressure-cooker situations. Most of those who have hurled their criticisms are the same people who will equally freeze or make mistakes themselves if they swapped shoes with her. It is not easy to look pretty and answer random questions thrown at you. What more to translate in Malay when we think daily in English. Likewise there was not much wrong with Wan Anisah‘s final answers, other than the fact that it did not resonate with our community and culture. The prerogative was hers to answer as best she could and one that suited her personal interests and personality. No one should put her down for her honesty, at least she did not lie her way just to score points with the judges.

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The suave Awi Rafael performing “Bila Aku Jatuh Cinta“, his second hit single after “Pulanglah“…

It was also good that the finalists were put through a short acting segment to suss their potential in this particular area, since they will after all, go on to star in a movie produced by Metrowealth International Group. They are raw as evident from their voice intonation and static delivery, having no prior background before this, hence one cannot expect a flawless performance. Even most new actors and actresses in Malaysian movies have been panned as wooden before, but they built on the opportunities given to them and improved over the years. Likewise the same can be expected from our Top 3, with Fatin Amira and Wan Anisah the better performers that night in the acting skit they were involved in. Even though the camera was not focused on them, what impressed me was they kept the scene flowing with their facial and body expressions. For that, we have to thank the likes of Mastura Ahmad, Zaidi Ibrahim and Seriwahyuni Jaes for imparting useful acting knowledge to the girls.

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Fatin Amira, the deserving winner of Ratu!!!

Ratu has been a relative success in my opinion, no matter what the critics might say. Critics are always willing to give their piece of mind at anything and everything, but almost always failing to give substantial alternatives and suggestions on how to better the show. This is the first of its kind which Mediacorp Suria has embarked upon, and naturally, glitches are to be expected. Definitely the producers will do a review on how they can better the next edition or if there is another one of its kind, but for the males instead. This is a new venture on uncharted waters, which no matter the storm they faced, at the end of the day, the ship still reached its harbour safe and sound, if I were to put it in such analogy. The opportunity and experience given to up-and-coming beauties was definitely enriching for all the contestants and I am sure they came out better and confident ladies. This was evident in their catwalk during the Grand Finals. Oh how beautiful all sixteen of them looked, especially the opening segment and one wondered why were they not dolled up like that since the first episode???

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Group photo of the contestants, judges, hosts and guests-of-honour after the show ended…

It has been fun covering the competition over 61 days, from the time the media conference was called to introduce the sixteen of them, right down to the Grand Finals. I gained sixteen new friends as a result, all charming and sweet ladies and I wish nothing but the best to all of them on their subsequent endeavours henceforth. If they still harbour hopes on entering the entertainment industry, then I suggest that they sign up with the various local performing arts / theatre groups to hone their craft, learn the ropes from experienced hands and come back for another shot when another reality competition comes around. It does not have to be in acting, because I know some have talents in dance or having the voice for hosting. Do not limit themselves to just acting because with their respective strengths, they can expand and try viable alternative avenues. Anything is possible. To Fatin Amira, congratulations once again on being crowned the first ever winner of Ratu in Mediacorp Suria‘s history!!! I do look forward to seeing her grace our television and silver screens very soon!!!

Ratu Suria Grand Finals Preview…

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Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria

This is it!!! The Grand Finals of Mediacorp Suria‘s latest talent-spotting competition comes to an end this coming 15 January 2013. After eight weeks of sweat and tears, and with the number of contestants whittled down to six out of the sixteen that began the competition, we will know who will be crowned the new face of the television station by the end of Tuesday night. Joining Nuraliza Osman and Hafeez Glamour on the judging panel will be Metrowealth International Group‘s CEO, Major David Teo, renowned Malaysian fashion designer Jovian Mandagie and Mr.Adam Mukhriz” himself, Aaron Aziz. The guest artistes of the night will be Awi Rafael, no stranger to our local music scene, who has made a name for himself across the Causeway with hits like “Pulanglah“, “Bila Aku Jatuh Cinta” and of late, “Asalkan Aku OK” and making a welcome return since the very first episode of the competition, Sezairi Sezali. In this entry I will give a lowdown on each of the six finalists based on my observations and through making small talk with them after each episode.

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Fatin Amira – I was actually surprised when I found out that Fatin Amira just turned twenty years of age this past New Year’s Eve. Her maturity belies her age. Other than coming across as a dead ringer for Malaysian R&B princess Dayang Nurfaizah, she did not strike me initially as a possible Ratu in the initial stages of the competition. But from Episode 4 onwards, she progressed and grew on her own through the carefully crafted and matured answers she gave during the Q&A segments. Add to the way she improved and aced on her catwalk, she was never in danger of elimination. Definitely a hot favourite to win, though she needs to calm down, enjoy herself and just forget about winning to detract the jitters away. Television and radio hosting could also be her thing in time to come as I had previously mentioned that she definitely has the tone of voice suited for the two broadcasting mediums.

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Nur Aqilah Kamaruddin – She first captured my attention during the Media Conference to introduce the sixteen contestants of this competition through none other than her megawatt smile. This is not to say that the other contestants are not sincere nor generous with their smiles, far from it, but Aqilah‘s smile I feel is the most sincere and could melt one’s heart. Also the most demure and gentle of the six finalists, she is blessed with gracefulness and this was evident in the earlier rounds when we saw her execute the Malay dance and Silat routines as though she was born to perform them. However, she still comes across as a bit shy and needs to be a bit more vivacious and above all, be more confident of herself that she can still win the competition. If there is someone she can be compared to currently in our scene, then I am looking no further than to resident host of Ratu, Marina Yusoff.

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Shillah Marlysha – I am not sure if she knows or is aware of this, but Shillah Marlysha is actually one of the favourites to win and touted by those working behind-the-scenes as someone that could grace our television screens in time to come, either as a host or an actress. The potential in terms of physical aspect is there, she is tall, pretty and already has some modelling background prior to joining this competition. For that experience alone, she has had quite a headstart over the others, and you can see that from the way she struts on the runway. And those killer dimples are a definite attraction, since not many female artistes are blessed with that. She needs to show it more by smiling even when the cameras are not panning in her direction, because when she does not smile, she looks a bit aloof and fierce (I get this feedback about myself from time to time as well, so we’re in the same boat, Shillah!!!). Other than that, the only other thing she could work on is answering her question by adding on a bit of pizzazz, perhaps take a bit of risk to add some colour, as I feel her answers so far have been more on the safe side.

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Surya Rahmanty – She is another one with a very warm and generous smile on her face. The eldest amongst the contestants at twenty-six years of age, her performances so far have been commendable, not too flashy but still having lots of room to improve, most notably on her catwalk. I know it is very uncomfortable having to walk on high heels and trying to look classy at the same time, but I think for a newbie in this modelling aspect of the competition, Surya has not done too shabbily. Her answers have always been well-thought out and she seems assured with herself. I think her biggest strength is being cool and calm in the face of adversity. Surya also has a steely and hidden iron-willed determination about her, which perhaps have kept her soldiering on in the competition. But would it be enough to crown her the winner??? Anything is possible, especially when she is rated as an underdog, and we always have a soft spot for underdogs, don’t we???

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Wan Anisah – Another one who had captured my attention during the Media Conference for her sharp and exotic looks, thanks to her Indian heritage. When I first saw her back then, two words came into my head – “Bollywood Queen“. But really in all seriousness, she does remind me of those beautiful Hindi actresses and will not look out of place if she were to act in a new season of “Cinta Bollywood“. I thought she was a bit quiet in the early weeks of the competition but began to open up more and even tried to crack a joke during the semi-final round, which depending on how you perceived them, was either a decent attempt or a shot on the foot. That attempt proved that she is willing to add variety to her answers and a bit of wit, and for that I cannot penalise her because it showed that she is a trier and risk-taker. Sometimes fortune favours the brave and she was definitely brave enough to attempt that, although it almost backfired on her. I also heard that she is one of those who normally has no problem crafting her answers without the need for any refining or corrections. In that respect, she just needs to maintain her poise and composure.

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Wida Alisa – In terms of educational background and constantly attaining high distinctions for her school examinations, Wida who is doing her Masters in Business Administration, is right up there and an inspiration for our community and younger generation to emulate. Not only has she the beauty, but the brains to back it up as well. When I think of that combustible combination of beauty and brains that Wida possesses, she does remind me of Rita Zahara and Hazlina Halim, two beauties who have graced our television screens as newscasters and television hosts. I’ve said before that she has been quite consistent in the competition without much fanfare, but still getting the job done when it mattered. A very pleasant person to talk to off-stage, what impresses me about Wida, is her humility. She has that natural wit which might bring her places. Winning on Tuesday might just be the passport she needs to realise her potential, if others have not already taken notice by now.

Presenting the six finalists...

So who do I think will win the competition??? Like the previous time I said I did not wish to tempt fate nor jinx the contestants, I will again be non-committal over who I think will win, simply because in a Grand Final of a reality competition, anything can happen. Underdogs can outperform and go beyond expectations when you least expect it. This scenario has happened many times when the likes of Hyrul Anuar, Aliff Aziz and Rahayu Ridwan had won previous Anugerah competitions. Shahril Wahid and Erwin Shah Dawson were also considered underdogs when they won in the 2006 and 2010 editions of Anugerah Skrin. I did say last week that Fatin Amira would win at a canter if the winner was crowned last week, but somehow she showed that she too could make the odd mistake and this happened during the semi-final round when she tripped and stumbled upon her words during the Q&A segment. I think the winner will be crowned based on who keeps her cool and composure that night, making the least errors during the Q&A segments and how she carries herself in whatever outfit she wears. Each finalist has her own strengths and factors that could see them score more points and I hope that this preview of mine could help them one way or another into maximising their potential. To the six finalists, I wish them the very best for this coming Tuesday‘s penultimate episode of Ratu

Ratu Episode 7 Recap…

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The seventh episode of Mediacorp Suria‘s beauty-cum-talent competition, Ratu, saw its semi-final round eliminating two more contestants this past Tuesday, 8 January 2013. In my previous entry I had mentioned that four of them would be eliminated, but I must have missed the all-important information in the mediakit that we received during the media conference to introduce the sixteen contestants, whereby the Grand Finals will actually be graced by six of them. If it is any important indicator to you my dear readers, it just goes to show that I too am not free of making errors, overlooking the details and coming across as wayward in my initial assessments, but yet funnily enough no one else came forward to correct me. Makes me look a bit silly now. Oh well…

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Trisno of Urban Xchange / Parking Lot Pimp fame was the guest artiste of the night…

So what do you think of the results thus far??? Are the six finalists justified??? I have been observing comments online that Nor Aishah Ahmad should not have been eliminated. I thought she did quite ok in general, the tribute she gave to her sister was extremely heartwarming. However, if there was one glaring mistake she made that day, it was to ask the judges to repeat their question, a possible indicator that she might not have been entirely focused. I did say in one of my previous entries, the judges are scrutinising and judging them through minute details like body language and other things like posture etc. Any trivial shortcomings displayed by the contestants would be penalised and eventually affect their total scores. My guess is, this was one of them.

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Khairudin Saharom joined Nuraliza Osman and Hafeez Glamour on the judging panel…

Tiara Atyra, the other one who was eliminated did much better than the previous week, but somehow I think her answer did not quite resonate with the judges. By saying she likes an Audi car for its physical outlook, style and elegance, it could probably have given the judges the impression that Tiara favoured beauty on the surface rather than highlighting how a car could serve its purpose better. Maybe if she had answered a Toyota Estima or Chrysler Grand Voyager for example, she could have scored a bit more points as the car models mentioned cater for a big family, on top of looking classy. If it was me answering the question and I had answered a Lamboghini Gallardo (my dream car), people would also have the impression that I am quite the selfish person as the car only sits two people.

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It has to be said, in a question-and-answer segment in a beauty competition, in general there is no right or wrong answer. Judges are more interested in hearing what a contestant has to say and learning a bit about their personalities and the way they think through the answers they give. It’s a psychological thing which I have no technical expertise nor background to explain further. The question-and-answer segments are the judges’ way of getting to know the contestants, not merely throwing random questions. This is where the contestants need to be aware of and I admit, is a big challenge for them to overcome. The challenges the girls face every episode could not be more daunting as some of them still look extremely uncomfortable in their high heels when they strut and do the catwalk.

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Presenting the six finalists!!!

Adding a bit of wit to their answers is more than welcome, but not overdoing it and being mindful of their surroundings, situation and circumstances. I can more or less sympathise with Wan Anisah as I know she meant her answer that night as a joke, but it did not sound quite right in a competition, leaving guest judge Khairudin Saharom who had asked her what questions does she avoid answering, a bit stunned and perplexed. Maybe if it was said on a normal show, the audience would have laughed along and praised her for being witty and cheeky at the same time. Even though the finalists had been announced, post-show, a few of them wore disappointed looks on their faces as they reminisced the answers they gave during the question-and-answer segment.

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It was heartening to see some of the earlier eliminated contestants returning to support the show and their fellow contestants, proving the bond they share is not a one-off affair…

To the six finalists, time to forget about what could have been or what should have been done or said better. Use the experience of making errors to give off a better performance in the Grand Finals. Making mistakes is part and parcel of life and en route to success, one of the ingredients to a good recipe. Brooding over them will only affect your confidence level this coming Tuesday. Learn from it and you should be able to do well, not only for the current competition, but also for the future. The six finalists are deserving of their places in the Grand Finals on merit in my opinion, though deep down I thought that Elfiana Ismail would at least be one of them from my observations a few weeks ago, but the judges’ decisions have to be respected afterall. Before I end this entry, I would just like to congratulate Fatin Amira, Nur Aqilah, Shillah Marlysha, Suria Rahmanty, Wan Anisah and Wida Alisa on advancing to the Grand Finals stage!!!

Ratu Episode Six Recap…

The Auras opening the show with Projek Pistol's "Wanita Seluruh Dunia"...
The Auras opening the show with Projek Pistol‘s “Wanita Seluruh Dunia“…

Time seems to fly by in the blink of an eye. For all we know, we’re only left with two more episodes of Ratu before the competition wraps up. Before I move on, I would just like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a great and prosperous 2013 ahead. The sixth episode of Mediacorp Suria‘s beauty-cum-talent competition this past New Year’s Day was the first live show to be aired on the station’s channel in the new calendar year, something which the hosts brought up and were proud to be a part of when they introduced us to the show. And since we’re on the subject of firsts, well this is also my first entry of the year. I certainly look forward to sharing more photographs, thoughts and perhaps video highlights (if I have the time and patience to edit them) in this humble domain of mine on happenings in our local Malay entertainment scene, those that I am invited and have the opportunity to attend in time to come, God willing.

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Wawan, the lead vocalist of The Auras

Truth be told, I don’t quite know what to comment on this past week’s episode, simply because there were no eliminations made, in a surprise move made by the show’s producers. Well actually I was given a hint by trusty insiders when I was on my way to the Mediacorp TV Theatre, that the show might not be worth attending afterall, but did not quite understand what it meant till the show was over. I will not say that it was a wasted trip in a nutshell, as I did learn who might be possible finalists in less than a fortnight’s time. Speaking of which, I would like to apologise for my judgment error when I said previously that the semi-finalists will be the Top 4, when in fact they will actually be the finalists. For the first time in the competition, the contestants were given random questions for them to answer spontaneously and it was a good test to see how they reacted and answered when previously they knew what questions to expect and prepared them beforehand.

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Fauzie Laily and Marina Yusoff…

Even though there were no eliminations made this past week, slowly but surely the Top 4 who will grace the Grand Finals on 15 January 2013, is taking shape. If we were to crown the winner now, I think Fatin Amira would win it at a canter, such is the young lady’s calm, confident and composed demeanour. Week after week, her level of progress and improvement seems to be going upwards and if she nails the next episode’s challenges, I think we will not have to wait for the end of the show to know that she would be a straight shoo-in. Everything she does, she seems to ace them. Another name I am inclined to believe would make the Top 4 based on her quietly consistent performances is Wida Alisa. Her eloquence, maturity and calculated answers are a reflection of her personality. From my weekly observations watching them live and listening to their radio interviews on Tuesday afternoons, Wida seems to appear to be resident judge Hafeez Glamour‘s favourite contestant as well.

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Rudy Marican (right) joining Nuraliza Osman and Hafeez Glamour on the judging panel…

Which leaves us with another two slots to be filled. Who else do I feel deserve the remaining two places??? Each contestant has her strong selling point – Nor Aishah Ahmad (gentle and demure), Shillah Marlysha (killer dimples), Tiara Atyra (normally-cool nature), Wan Anisah (exotic looks), Nur Aqilah and Surya Rahmanty (warm and charming smile), but somehow like what the judges had mentioned in their assessments, the girls lacked that wee bit of self-confidence and some still appearing to be quite timid at this stage of the competition. I do not wish to tempt fate or disappoint the others by picking the last two because all of them will begin the seventh episode on equal footing. At the same time I also hope that even though I had praised Wida and Fatin for their consistent performances, they do not rest on their laurels just yet, as the other six can still steal their spots if they up their game and channel their self-belief and confidence for a better performance, which I am sure they will.

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The relief and happy faces upon knowing they were all going into the semi-final round…

I think for a few of the contestants whom I will not name but am sure they know it themselves and even viewers in the TV Theatre and at home would note, the non-elimination this week was like a major lifeline for them to give it one more shot at getting into the Grand Finals. Based on previous weeks’ performances, the judges’ job was made rather easy to give lesser points to those who did not perform well, especially during the Q&A session. Those who had stuttered, lost their composure at crucial points or did not answer to the point, had felt the brunt of the culling. And I believe it will be no different right up to the end of this competition where composure would play a crucial part for them. I was initially surprised when the judges said that some of them still had opportunities to be crowned the champion, which was a prelude to the announcement of the non-elimination. So let’s hope the girls who did not do quite well this past week can atone for their mistakes and do better for this coming make-or-break seventh episode where four eliminations will be made. Till then…

Ratu Episode Five Recap…

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The fifth episode of Ratu was once again held at the smaller Studio 4 this past Tuesday, 25 December 2012, with the theme of the week celebrating “womanhood” and mothers in general. Not surprisingly, when we touch upon the topic of mothers and think of our own, we can’t help but perhaps shed a tear or two when we are reminded of all the sacrifices and hardships that they had gone through to bring us up. And this was very much evident during one of the segments, where the contestants were reciting the poetry extolling the virtues of mothers out there and some were seen tearing or had their eyes glistening with tears, which they tried to fight away from trickling down their cheeks. It was a good tribute to have, but at the same time I also observed who was able to capture the mood and emotion well, which could prove in future whether they are able to replicate when they embark in their journey in the entertainment scene as movie / drama actresses.

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Rahayu Ridwan was a fresh change for once, being the only female guest artiste so far in the competition series…

Our guest judge this past week, Rita Zahara, was a breath of fresh air in my opinion. No disrespect to all the previous guest judges we have had over the last four episodes but I think she is what the competition needs, someone who is extremely comfortable being bilingual, who gave valuable insights as well as advice, and not hesitant / struggling with the things she wants to say. The one that should resonate in the minds of the contestants was the one Rita pointed out that she wanted to see how warm and sincere the girls were with their smiles, not only on stage but also when she observed them backstage. In a very harsh industry known for its backstabbings, dishonesty, insincere and fake outlook by some bad apples out there, the advice she gave was one which the girls and even us, can apply in our daily lives. We might be going through some tough times, but a smile especially towards others, can be a very significant gesture or even cure.

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Judges Nuraliza Osman, Hafeez Glamour and Rita Zahara

This past Tuesday saw another round of culling of the Top 10 contestants. Coincidentally, the two eliminated contestants, Jannah Jakasha and Elfiana Ismail, happened to be the only cabin crews in the competition. While the former’s ousting was kind of expected due to her being quite raw, I was a bit surprised with Elfiana‘s elimination as she had been one of the more confident contestants coming into this past week’s round. Fatin Amira seems to be gaining momentum as the weeks go by, and based on what I had said the previous week about us getting an idea on who might be a possible Top 4 candidate within the next two weeks, I think it might be safe to say that she has the attributes to make that round, bar any hiccups along the way. Since Sheril Izzyana‘s elimination, Fatin Amira has taken over the mantle of someone with the voice for radio / television and Wida Alisa is also not far behind in this aspect. Tiara Atyra also deserves a mention for her composed answers.

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Hosts Fauzie Laily and Marina Yusoff

But there is also another name which I feel might be a possible Top 4 candidate or go on to star in future Metrowealth International Group‘s productions. No I will not mention her identity, other than this being my personal observation and should not be taken seriously by the contestants, or even you reading this. The other day I read a Berita Minggu article on Atikah Suhaime, who was scouted by Major David Teo of Metrowealth International Group via Instagram and who had also attended the media conference to introduce the sixteen contestants of Ratu. The article stated that Major Teo had left comments on Atikah‘s photos and subsequently invited her for screen tests. I noticed this past week that Major Teo had left smiley emoticons on a contestant’s photograph/s, a possible indicator that he might have set his sights on giving her an opportunity like Atikah.

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The girls in their Zalora outfits. Very chic!!!

Though it could mean anything, or I might be over-reacting over smiley emoticons, or that he could have left it at other contestants’ photographs in Instagram as well which I might have missed out, I cannot help but feel that no matter what happens in this competition for this contestant, she can be assured that the big man himself has taken notice of her and might invite her over to Kuala Lumpur, where they are based at, for screen tests soon. But of course, instant success is not a given in this industry and she, along with the rest, knows that the last three weeks of the competition will be crucial and will not be the end of their journey, if they were to carve a name for themselves in the scene. The hard work is only shifting into second gear and the girls know it themselves. Exciting last three weeks of the competition lie ahead, though I hope I will not jinx whoever I had mentioned in my previous paragraphs, since those I had praised in my previous entries have so far gone out.

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P.S. I just wanna say how happy I was with the continued improved styling on the girls as the weeks go on. And after four weeks of tying up their hair in all sorts of styles, we finally got to see them letting their hair down and this I must point out brought out their physical beauty a bit more. When they wore fashion designer, Lulu Alhadad‘s Kaftan creations, I thought that this hairstyling thing should have been done from the start. I mean, if you want variations, you can tie them up for one segment and let their hair go in another. Cos some of the girls don’t look that good with hair tied up in certain styles, but much better when they let them down. This I can attribute to the shape of their faces and whether it suits them well or not. But still, it was a very refreshing change to see them. Am hoping we could see more of it in the last three episodes.