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… 🙂

Suria Elektra Post-Event: What You Did Not Get To See…

As promised, I’m back with this entry which I’ve promised to upload before Monday. For those of you who are linked to me in Facebook, this post is perhaps very much redundant as you would have seen the photographs I uploaded on Suria Elektra and its post-event reception about a week ago. But of course I have not forgotten those who are not in my contact list. That is why this entry is published specially for you even if I don’t upload all the photographs I took that night.

If you had watched the live telecast show from the comfort of your home, then you would have missed seeing the cutting of Suria‘s 10th Anniversary cake when the rolled credits had ended and Suria was showing “Kala Malam Bulan Mengambang“. Our distinguised guests-of-honour were invited up to the stage by the pre / post-event emcee, A B Shaik, to cut the 10kg cake sponsored by Prima Deli. Just before the cake was cut, everyone in the auditorium was asked to join in the singing of the birthday song. Even stars like Dato’ Siti NurhalizaRamli SaripTaufik Batisah and Hady Mirza amongst others, were not spared from being asked to sing when the microphone was passed to them.

The artistes waving and thanking the audience and fans who had come to watch…

Nurul Aini was seen blowing kisses to the crowd. She really enjoyed herself as a host that night…

The look on Fadly Awaludin‘s face was classic…

 

The cake is then wheeled out from the backstage…

“Happy birthday to you!!!… Happy birthday to you!!!”

Blowing away the flames on the candles…

And cutting the cake…

And then it was time for the food to be served at the post-event reception…

Suhaimi Yusof, food connoisseur, tucking in…

Hady & Taufik were still game for photographs even though they wore tired looks on their faces…

A mixture of old and new, from left: Taufik Salleh, Roslan Kemat, Noor Atika Kamaludin & Joe Lazarie

Imran Ajmain looked dashing, while Nurul Aini was stunning…

The ladies who sat together in a row and held their own party that night. Any performer would love to have them as part of their audience. From left: Rosita Hussin, Ariati Tyeb, Rahimah Yusof, Rita Zahara, Mastura Ahmad, Seri Wahyuni Jaes, Elfaeza Ul-Haq & Dalina Jaapar.

Here’s Pianka and their manager Jihan Jauhar

Three beautiful ladies whose talents have been discovered by Suria over the past decade, from left: Azzah Fariha, Kunjung and Huda Ali

Ashmie, Elfaeza and Shahril Wahid demonstrating how to be toothpaste commercial models, while Suhaillah Salam, Dalina & Taufik kept it cool…

The guys looked slick while the ladies were demure. You gotta hand it to Imran Ajmain, Syarif Sleeq, Fauzie Laily, Norfasarie, Rosita Hussin, Nurul Aini, Elfaeza, Dalina & Najip Ali

Suhaillah with the ever loving couple, Rafaat Hamzah and his wife Ziz Za

Catty (Anugerah 2009 semi-finalist) and Alyph Sleeq  flanking the cast of the new series Cinta Ixora – Syarif Sleeq, Nurul Nabilah, Setia Vegawati, Nadiah Mohd and Shenthy Feliziana. Cinta Ixora will debut on Suria on 27 February 2010 at 09:30pm

I’m sure fans of Syah Ibrahim (second from right) would love this photograph. Here he is with, from right: M. Saffri A. Manaf, Roslan Kemat, A B Shaik & Jorah Ahmad‘s chaperone…

Sani Hussin (second from left) was initially hesitant to take this photograph alongside the younger generation of Suria artistes like Ashmie, Taufik, Haizad Imran, Fadhlur Rahman, Sufiyan, Azzah Fariha & Elfaeza as he felt out of place, but he joined in after much coaxing. I’m sure the younger cohort look up to him as a mentor and inspiration…

Rita Zahara, ex-newscaster of both English & Malay news got my vote as the best-dressed that night. She was simply gorgeous in her dress, which was designed by Lulu Alhadad, an up and coming fashion designer…

And before I end this entry, I would just like to thank Imran Ajmain for taking the time to record this for my readers on that night itself. Please do give him your utmost support and visit his official website www.imranajmain.com for the latest news on his upcoming shows and single / album promotions. Also, for more news on our local entertainment scene, promotions on upcoming shows, concerts and events, you can get your bites at Gumbira.com, a company set up by none other than the man himself…

 

 

Suria Elektra Review…

Just as I had begun my previous entry, Mediacorp Suria reached a milestone on 30 January 2010 when it turned a decade old. And to commemorate its ten years of existence, the premier Malay television channel in Singapore held two big bashes within the space of a week – Fiesta Suria held at East Coast Park on 30 January 2010 itself and Suria Elektra on Friday 5th February 2010. While I will update this domain on photographs of the beach event on a slightly later date, I’m sure the one that people have vested interest in, is the Suria Elektra event.

Suria Elektra featured a stellar gathering of around 100 artistes and these included the unsung performers like the dancers, under the direction of veteran choreographer Eddy, the back-up singers under the tutelage of vocal coach Ann Hussein and the musicians led by Amri Amin, a well-respected music arranger and director. The two-hour live musical extravaganza was not only an evening of musical splendour but it also celebrated the unveiling of Suria’s new logo:

The new Suria logo reflects the channel’s growth. The strong bold letter “S” symbolises the channel’s strength in its aspiration to strife for new creative ideas. The bright orange signifies freshness and vibrancy while the “smiley” shape below the letter “S” characterises the channel as a “feel-good” channel that continues to shine with the viewers. The logo was officially unveiled by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who was the guest-of-honour, during the show itself.

Suria‘s prime-time viewership has grown by 33% from 2008 to 2009 with the channel’s local contents constantly been its top-rated programmes. In a press release statement, Mr Suhaimi Jais, Senior Vice President of Suria Programming & Promotions and Mediacorp Eaglevision said that the challenge for them is to continuously improve their contents and keeping them fresh. The change in logo also portrays Suria‘s aspirations to be more innovative and providing up-to-date content.

It was a throwback to the year 2000 when the Prime Minister who was then-Deputy Prime Minister, had also launched the first official Malay channel on our shores. The days when our Malay programmes had to share a common channel with the arts, Tamil as well as children’s programmes now seem like a distant memory. Over the years we have also seen the launching of dedicated channels to cater to our Indian community (Vasantham) as well as for the children / arts / documentaries / lifestyle (Okto).

Before the show kicked off in earnest, there was a red-carpet and pre-show cocktail event. Hosted by roving hosts, Huda Ali & Rilla Melati, clips of the event were shown in brief and it looked grand seeing the invited artistes dressed in their very best. I did not attend the event as my invitation card did not include being invited to it. Even if I was invited, I doubt I would be able to make it as I was still stuck at work right up till 7.30pm, when the card clearly stated that we were to be there at 7:00pm!!! Good thing when I reached Caldecott Broadcast Centre, I was still considered early and had time to make my way into the auditorium. The only downside was having to negotiate my way in and being resorted to strict security checks. But that was understandable as the event was graced by the who’s who in our Malay community circle, distinguished dignitaries and of course, our Prime Minister.

The show kicked off with aplomb, Sarah Aqilah, the winner of Anugerah 2009, came onstage to sing Mulan Jameela‘s “Makhluk Tuhan Paling Seksi“. It came as a big surprise to me that this song was able to be performed on national television and in front of very, very important people who made up part of the audience. You might wonder and question, “What is wrong with that???” Here’s the ironical part. This song was not approved to be aired by our local radio stations due to its apparently suggestive nature, and yet here we are seeing it being performed on a grand scale. I wonder if the so-called “ban” would now be lifted as a result.

I thought the choice of having Najip Ali & Nurul Aini as hosts was spot-on. For someone who has not done live hosting for a few years, I thought Nurul did extremely well, even to the point of improvising her script at certain points to give it an edgier punch. Their chemistry throughout the show, grew as the minutes wore on. Obviously Nurul didn’t look out of place even though she did admit, she was very nervous prior to the show. One could understand her fears, especially since this was afterall a grand event watched by thousands at home and very, very important people in the auditorium.

Sleeq & Maiya Rahman performing a song specially composed in tribute to popular programmes televised on Suria over the past ten years…

It was apt that Eka Mairina & Kunjung Whitaker performed together onstage as they’re our two famous Indonesian imports whose raw potentials were polished in the Anugerah competition. I had envisaged that someday they would perform together but I did not expect it to be this soon. For the record, Eka became champion in 2003 while Kunjung was the runner-up in last year’s competition. That night, they sang the classic hit “Jelingan Manja” and was accompanied by renowned saxaphonist Jari.

Anang Hermansyah performing his current hit “Separuh Jiwaku Pergi“. The whole auditorium felt his emotions flowing in the song and he was given a rousing ovation by a whole row of female personalities that included the likes of Seri Wahyuni Jaes, Mastura Ahmad, Ariati Tyeb and Rita Zahara

This particular segment whereby Anang and Sarah sang the former’s composition “Belajarlah Untuk Cinta” was both cute and cynical at the same time – Cute because Anang was being cheeky and romantic by holding onto Sarah‘s hands throughout the song and grinning from ear to ear, and cynical because the words to the song was an obvious dig to his ex-wife. They obviously were a joy to listen to, showing good vocal harmony together and having the chemistry that lent credence to the performance. Sarah who was initially coy, showed the audience why she deserved to be crowned Anugerah 2009 champion by hitting the high notes with nonchalant ease. Not that regular viewers needed any reminders.

Vadi, Kym Ng and Suhaimi Yusof cracking up the audience with their short skit…

The girls of Pianka definitely did not disappoint when they sang their first single “Mau Yang Besar“. Though the song is more than a year old, having been included in the Cicakman 2 official soundtrack album, I’ve yet to hear it on this shores. I just hope the slightly suggestive title doesn’t go the same way as Mulan Jameela‘s “Makhluk Tuhan Paling Seksi“, because compared to the latter which I agree has some undesirable tones, the former actually portrays how some ladies’ preferences for material stuff, are conditions warranted in order to win over their hearts. This song has been playing at the back of my head ever since I met them at the Suria Elektra Media Session. Kudos to Edry KRU on another masterpiece composition. He’s not a millionaire for nothing or just by introducing mere pretty faces in the music industry across the Causeway.

As winners of the inaugural Anugerah Band competition, I expected Rancour to at least have more minutes to their segment, cos Sarah Aqilah appeared in no less than three items that night. Surely being winners themselves, they deserved slightly more, yes???

Eiss & “Papa Rock“, Ramli Sarip, singing the latter’s old hit “Teratai“. The hairs stood in awe of their performance…

Ramli Sarip then took centrestage singing “Keliru“…

He was ably accompanied by Zoul (left) and Alif Putra (right). For the uninitiated, Zoul is the younger brother of M. Nasir and Alif was the winner of Best Musician at the inaugural Anugerah Band competition in 2008, where he turned out with the group Putra.

This segment featuring the new faces of Suria over the past decade left me and the audience scratching our heads as to whether it was necessary to have in the first place or merely a filler of sorts because it felt more like a fashion showcase where models do the catwalk along the runway. Even though I have no qualms about their selections and felt all ten of them deserved to be there, I just can’t help thinking that besides the good-lookers, maybe perhaps they could have included the breakthrough artistes or artistes who are plus-sized but still became household names like Fadhilah Samsudin (Erlin Montel), Zamberi Abdul Patah (Cik Leh in “Jeritan Sepi 2“) and Haryani Othman (Cikgu Bedah in “Tahu Nahu“). Granted, you need to look good to be on television, but a more realistic perspective could probably have given these people a fairer opportunity to receive some form of recognition for their good performances and making viewers remember them by.

Unlike his haunting hit “Angkasa” which has now topped the local radio charts for a ninth straight week, I found Hady Mirza‘s next single “Hentikan“, taken off his “Sang Penyanyi” album, which he sang that night, needing a lot of getting used to as compared to the former. “Angkasa” is easier on the ears as it is a typical ballad and sappy song. What made it even more special was the fact that it was Hady‘s first Malay single since “Jangan Memandu Di Pinggir Jalan“. However, the message the song “Hentikan” brings with it with regards to world peace, ending strifes and wars I believe, is more important and that’s what make this next single of his a song of pristine substance. I also do not dare to bet against this song following the footsteps of “Angkasa” and topping the local charts in time to come.

When Suria Channel was first launched on 30 January 2000, Siti Nurhaliza was slowly making waves as the hottest singing sensation this part of South-East Asia was witnessing. Back then when she donned a striking kimono and singing “Kurniaan Dalam Samaran“, I doubt that anyone of us, me included, would have envisaged seeing her being conferred the status of a “Dato‘” within a ten-year period. But such has been her colourful journey and without waxing too much lyrical on her achievements that need no further reminding, she has definitely gone on to become a brand name that the whole Nusantara has come to love and in the case of certain quarters, dislike. The title bestowed on her was a matter of when, not if. She would have gotten it even if she had not married a “Dato‘” as well.

That night Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza sang three songs to the delight of the watching audience. The first, “Batas Asaku” was taken off the official soundtrack of the movie “Perempuan Berkalung Sorban“, which was based on a novel by Abidah el Khalieqy, and was first published by the Yayasan Kesejahteraan Fatayat in Jogjakarta in 2001. After addressing the audience, she followed up her segment with a medley of Bukan Cinta Biasa and Destinasi Cinta, two songs that needed no further introductions. I guess in any appearance she makes, be it for a showcase, a concert or even a brief cameo, the audience would never get enough of her and that night was no different.

I certainly did not expect Taufik Batisah to sing “Sesuatu Janji” taken off his “All Because Of You” album, simply for the sole reason that he already has a more recent album entitled “Suria Hatiku“, one that has produced hits after hits with every single being introduced on the airwaves. But was I complaining??? Not one bit, cos amongst all his songs, this is my personal favourite and little wonder too, since I got him to sing this song when he recorded a greeting for this blog which I posted in the entry before last. I half-expected him to do his somersault, which he executed when he sang the same song at Anugerah Planet Muzik 2008, but I guess the space constraints didn’t allow him to. Or perhaps that special moment in 2008 was reserved for the regional audience. Still, I enjoyed it all the same.

The show came to a rousing end when the Anugerah alumnus, which consisted of Fauzie Laily, Maiya Rahman, Hyrul Anuar and Eka Mairina came on stage to sing Adam & Stacy‘s “Menggegar Dunia“. This was followed by Sarah Aqilah appearing for the third time that night, along with Eiss and Kunjung singing Faizal Tahir‘s “Gemuruh“. I just felt the first song, which is punchier as compared to the second one, would have been a better choice to open or end the show. The performance which reeked of zest and energy, as demonstrated by Fauzie, Maiya, Hyrul and Eka, would have been a fairer reflection of what Suria is all about – Vibrancy.

If there were any complaints or misgivings I had, then perhaps it would have been the fact that certain people were apparently overlooked for this event. The show was meant to be a celebration of the past ten years and it was fair to have those performing or those who made an appearance that night being given the opportunity to do so. Yes it was commendable to have the Anugerah alumnus between the years 20032009 performing, but what about those before that, most notably Aqmal Noor (winner in 2004), Indra Hamzah (winner in 2001) and Rudy Djoharnaen (winner in 2002)??? While Aqmal is slowly making inroads as seen by his win at last year’s Rentak Singapura event for his composition entitled “Warkah Dunia“, the other two have been relatively quiet and not heard of since.

Suria also had non-singing competitions like Juara (2002) and Anugerah Skrin (2006) in search of the next big thing in acting and hosting. Though the potentials of Nurul Aini as the night’s co-host and Huda Ali as roving host during the pre-event cocktail reception, were discovered and eventually polished to be who they are now, I hope no one has forgotten the likes of Firdaus Abdul Rahman (who appeared as “Captain Zero” in the comedy sitcom “Ahakz” and lately as the teacher in “Dikir Putri“) and Shahril Wahid (who played the handicapped character in “Gerimis Di Hati“), winners of Juara and Anugerah Skrin (Male Category) respectively. Both are accomplished theatre actors and they have definitely brought their experiences to the screens. One can only recall how Shahril‘s character in “Gerimis Di Hati” was excellently portrayed and I wouldn’t bet against him winning something at next year’s Pesta Perdana event just for that role itself.

If the segments that night were already too packed for a two-hour programme, then perhaps they could have just made cameo appearances, just like the catwalk segment that featured the new faces of the past decade. I think a small gesture like that could have gone a long way in refreshing the minds of viewers, that these guys also had had their moments of joy when they created history with the channel. I hope in future, winners like them would be remembered, even if they’re mentioned in brief or shown short clips of their performances. They are all unique in their own rights, skilled in their respective crafts, and should not be reduced to mere footnotes or forgotten altogether. I could be wrong in my analysis though, as perhaps they could have been invited to perform or make an appearance, but could not make it due to personal commitments. Shahril for the record, was invited as a guest that night.

The finale…

I just found it extremely unfortunate that on a week our premier Malay channel celebrated its milestone, unsavoury news in the print and alternative media with regards to a home-made video of a former actress / host, as well as news of the arrests of a famous comedian and a rock singer came to light. Everyone seems to have an opinion one way or another about these incidents as they’re being talked about almost everywhere on the Net. Even my blog statistics jumped because people were searching for the name of that former actress / host and their search results led to this domain. I will not delve too much on it, but I hope the public’s opinions on artistes in general will still be as positive as ever and not look down on them nor stereotype this career path as was famously portrayed in Allahyarham Tan Sri P. Ramlee‘s classic “Ibu Mertuaku“.

Like any offender, I believe the people who have made the news of late, should not be made outcasts or pariahs throughout their lives. We all make mistakes, whether they’re minor or severe, and the only way for them to lead normal lives again after this, is for us to offer them support & encouragement to be better people and accept them as part of society. Do not ostracise them just because as artistes, they are expected to be role models discerning youngsters look up to for inspiration. I’m actually heartened by the fact that fellow artistes have voiced their support in one way or another via their Tweets and Facebook statuses. This spirit of togetherness and protecting one another is what I admire and applaud, even though we’ve all heard before about the industry being harsh and bitchy due to a lot of backbiting.

Which reminds me of this entry I typed last July entitled “Be True To Yourselves“. When all these incidents happened, became the talking points and ended up being tabloid fodder (ok granted we only have one tabloid paper in our midst), I was eeriely reminded of what I outlined through several pointers in that particular posting. I certainly did not expect some of what I mentioned to be uncannily prophetic. Though I will not quote everything on what I typed back then, I will just end this entry with three paragraphs from that post I made, which relate to what has been happening around us of late and I hope we would all learn something from these recent episodes:

“Which is why I hope that up-and-coming artistes like our new batch of Anugerah contestants as well as those that are already established, would succeed without having any skeletons in the closet or deceive the fans through cunning ability spinning yarns after yarns of crap. One can put up a false front in front of the public, pull the wool over the eyes of the legions of fans, but shit catches up with the bull eventually since the latter needs to defecate afterall. In other words, one can only go so far with bullshit but life has a way of revealing dirty little secrets through time and when one leasts expects it.

Be thankful that there will always be an ever caring and protective arm around your shoulder, shielding you away from any possible backlash from your own fans or the community, when the paparazzis come a-calling, catching you in the act with your pants down. Cos too many of our local acts think they can get away with misdemeanours done mostly with the opposite sex or through various forms of intoxications. We are afterall, living in a society that is still conservative and sensitive. Being in the public eye, one should know better than to do things that could jeopardise their growing reputation as an established brand in the industry.

This entry, even though it looks as though I’m dissing someone or some people, it has to be said that it is also a reminder I want to share with all local artistes out there because I want to see our small industry succeed, without having to go through nasty episodes, which would eventually lead to a lot of unhappiness and ostracising. Everything that is to be done should be from the heart, laced with integrity and filled with unbridled honesty. That’s how one achieves blessed sustenance in any work or endeavour that we put our will into. I am very sure that most of our local acts are true to themselves and honest in their approach to their craft. For that, I will always continue to support our industry, no matter how much we seem to lack in several areas of professionalism.”

P.S. You must be wondering where are the post-event reception photographs. This entry was already too long for my liking that I’ve decided to split it into two. I’ll try to upload the photographs before Monday. Till then, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this review and thank you Suria for inviting me to the event as well as providing useful information which I have included in this entry…

Suria Elektra Media Session…

Mediacorp Suria reached a milestone on 30 January 2010 when it turned a decade old. Time sure flew by over the past ten years in a twinkling of an eye. I remembered when the channel was first launched on 30 January 2000, I just turned 21, was still serving my National Service, a swinging single, about 20kg lighter than what I am now and with more hair on my head. I was there at the auditorium that particular Sunday night, simply because the launch had two of my favourite artistes – KRU & Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza – performing.

Fast forward to the current times, how the local Malay entertainment industry has grown. Talent competitions like Chef Selebriti, JuaraAnugerah, Anugerah Band and Anugerah Skrin have produced stars like Hyrul Anuar, Fauzie Laily, Sarah Aqilah, Nurul Aini, Rancour, Huda Ali, Chef Khalid & Shah Iskandar just to name a few. Theatre activists like Zamberi Abdul Patah, Rafaat Hamzah and Sani Hussin have stamped their authority as class actors on the screens. Virtual unknowns like Fadly Awaludin, Fadhlur RahmanAzzah Fariha and Fizah Nizam have come from nowhere to grace our screens in various acting and hosting stints. Radio personalities like Fiza O, Azmi Sempoi, Hafeez Glamour, Nity Baizura, Aura Shai and A B Shaik have also branched out and added colour to some of the shows they have hosted or acted in. Not forgetting, former child prodigies like Khairudin Samsudin & Shahrin Azhar known more for their acting & hosting capabilities have directed and produced award-winning shows on television. And the list goes on and on.

We might have our personal gripes and complaints that Suria is very fond of repeating shows almost every day. But the repeated shows somehow serve a reminder that locally produced shows are of some quality and standard with our regional counterparts, other than the fact that we could watch them again just for laughs or for memories’ sake or if we had missed watching when they were first televised. So much so that Suria programmes have received several regional and international recognitions at the New York Festival, International Promax & World Gold and the Asian Television Awards. Some of these programmes have also been acquired and televised by regional broadcasters such as Astro, NTV 9, Asian Food Channel, Radio Televisyen Malaysia‘s TV1 & TV2 as well as channels on Radio Television Brunei.

It was an honour and my utmost pleasure to have been invited to this media session with some of the main stars of the recently-concluded Suria Elektra event, which was televised live on Suria last Friday night, 5th February 2010 at 8.30pm. The media session was held at the Balmoral Hall of Royal Plaza On Scotts last Thursday 4th February 2010 2-4pm. The session was hosted by Suhaimi Yusof and the event was graced by Mr. Suhaimi Jais – head honcho of Suria, Najip Ali – the host of Suria Elektra, Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, Taufik Batisah, Sarah Aqilah, Anang Hermansyah & Pianka from Indonesia. Media representatives from Suria, Sensasi, Berita Harian, The New Paper, Gumbira.com and Screenbox (Sungguh.com) were in attendance. Being the only local entertainment blogger around, I felt small as I wasn’t used to this. Neither was I prepared to interview nor ask questions as my approach has always been to review or feature rather than interviewing the artistes.

For those of you who frequent or have been to The Royal Plaza On Scotts, either to say your prayers at the musollah in the building or dine at The Carousel but do not know where the Balmoral Hall is at, the plush venue overlooks the hotel’s swimming pool on the 5th floor lending it a touch of class and elegance. The room itself with its lush interior decor was already the perfect place to hold an event like this. I was genuinely impressed the moment I walked into the room and thought that they could not have held it at a better place than that. On the opposite side of the windows facing the pool, the glass panels faced the greenery outside, soothing the eyes and lending some wanted shade into the room on a day the sun was scorching hot and the sweltering heat outside was quite unbearable. As I walked into the room, Anang Hermansyah & Pianka were already there.

I did not waste time in requesting Pianka to do a short greeting for my blog, something similar to the one that Taufik Batisah did in the last entry. I know many of you dunno who these three girls who make up Pianka are, unless you’ve followed their progress in the inaugural season of Gangstarz, the popular reality show across the Causeway in search of the next big group to hit the entertainment industry there. Pianka is made up of Nita Lesmana, Sherine Farani & Puspita Wardhani. They are currently based in Jakarta having left KRU Records to pursue their music careers in their own motherland. The group derived its name from the term “Pianica” and are no slouches at playing musical instruments or giving vocal coachings. Nita and Sherine are qualified vocal instructors and the latter has a penchant for playing the violin. My hairs stood as I was simply bowled over by their vocal prowess, hearing them sing when I recorded their greeting.

I wanted to go over and chat with Anang, maybe ask him to record a greeting for me but he was quite pre-occupied, either chatting with the other media representatives or having a quiet time on his own and enjoying the light refreshments that were served. He looked quite tired judging by the look on his face and I found out later on from a very credible source close to him that he was indeed exhausted and hungry. Past experiences taught me to respect the privacies of artistes or know when they wished to be left alone. Some people might be quick to condemn that these people can be unapproachable or aloof just by looking at their faces. Anang was there for me to “attack” when he was all alone, but I thought the guy needed some rest since afterall, he just arrived from Indonesia. So I left him to be on his own especially since throughout the two-hour session, he wore a look which alternated from boredom to exhaustion.

Mr. Suhaimi Jais kicked off the session by thanking everyone who came and describing how the station has progressed over the years. He also outlined his hopes on how the next ten years would be like, with more quality shows in the pipeline, of course with help from the various production houses in Singapore. The artistes in attendance then took turns to introduce themselves and thanking Suria for giving them the opportunity to grace this star-studded event. People like Sarah Aqilah, Taufik Batisah, Najip Ali and Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza also described how their careers have shaped and how Suria have played a part in their progression and involvement with the station over the past ten years. Indeed, listening to them was like going back in time to shows like “Bersama Siti” and “KOTT“, two shows that have left indelible marks in the minds of viewers.

Once the session was over and it was time for the artistes to have private sessions with the media representatives, I took time to alternate between taking photographs of what was transpiring before me, i.e. the various interviews being made and chatting with some of the guests in attendance. Taufik surprised me by coming up to me and saying he read my Tweet prior to coming. I had left him a message beforehand saying I would be seeing him at the event in reply to his Tweet that stated he was going for a haircut and then to the event. We were not formally introduced before this even though we did take a photograph together at the post-event reception of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2008. Though we chatted briefly about Twitter‘s impact, he immediately struck me as someone with no airs whatsoever and exuding loads of charm. No wonder the ladies go gaga over him and I don’t blame them, as I experienced it first hand myself.

Always the most sought after person at media sessions and press conferences, it was no wonder that Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza was one of the last to leave. I did not get to chat with her as she had to rush off for rehearsals at Mediacorp TV Theatre but at least she was kind enough to stop for awhile to record this greeting for you and I hope you would continue to visit this site for more updates, especially as I still have yet to update on Fiesta Suria, Suria Elektra, Fiesta Famili and Glenn Fredly‘s Lovevolution concert. I will try to update twice a week so I can space out my entries before RIA‘s Big Bash event on 21st February 2010. Thank you once again to the good people at Mediacorp Suria for inviting me to the Suria Elektra Media Session last Thursday. It was indeed a memorable event to savour, especially since Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza and Anang did not attend the Suria Elektra post-event reception.

The Event Pictures In Summary

Where it was held at…

Calm before the storm…

Event host Suhaimi YusofSarah Aqilah looking a bit tensed… That was understandable since she was sitting beside Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza…I think any newbie out there would have felt the same thing as well…

Mr. Suhaimi Jais, head honcho of Suria

Najip Ali, host of Suria Elektra

I am sure she needs no further introduction…

Likewise this suave and charming gentleman…

Anang is very soft spoken and a man of few words…

Sarah Aqilah hopes to share her experiences in ten years’ time…

Pianka felt honoured to be invited as guest artistes…

A group photo before the session ended…

Anang being interviewed for Persada Seni…

Likewise Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza

And Taufik Batisah as well…

Whilst waiting for their turn to be interviewed, Pianka gamely posed for the cameras. From left – Sherine Farani, Puspita Wardhani & Nita Lesmana

Sarah Aqilah had to rush off for rehearsals but still had time for one last shot…

Just before she left, Dato’ Siti was still in the mood for a few last shots…

Taufik Batisah wishes Suria a Happy 10th Anniversary