Hilang Kasih Di Sarajevo Gala Premiere Screening Event

We are slightly more than three weeks into the new calendar year. It’s been three months since my last post and I know I still owe entries on Anugerah Planet Muzik 2018 as well as originally-planned reviews for Ruffedge‘s and Anuar Zain‘s concerts. Unfortunately, my home PC picked an inauspicious time to go bust, so I was rendered PC-less for some time, hence I was unable to do any updates till I’ve gotten myself a new one. However, it’s been a quarter of a year gone by, and frankly speaking, whatever I owe my readers are old news by now. So I’ll keep my thoughts on APM2018 till the next one comes around (if it does) or maybe I’ll hold my peace forever, if rumours of it being consigned to history books are true. As for the Ruffedge concert, all I can say is, it was a blast and one of the best concerts I’ve ever attended for the fact that I had absolute access to snap photos from close-up without having security or organisers stopping me from doing so. Even the fans had a whale of a night. How many sit-down concerts here can you say that audience are allowed to stand up, dance and sway without having security bugging you to sit down??? Can’t wait for the next Shiraz Project concert here in March with a certain number one singer from Malaysia

The cast of the “Hilang Kasih Di Sarajevo” seen here with their executive producers, Safiyuddin Razif and Nusaibah Abdul Rahim (fourth and fifth from the left)…

Sorry for taking a whole paragraph rambling. Now that I got the explanation for my missing-in-action out of the way, let’s start 2019’s first entry with a gala premiere screening event I attended slightly more than a fortnight ago on 4 January 2019 at the Gallery Theatre of National Museum of Singapore. This screening event was jointly held by Mediacorp Suria and local production company, Poetry In Motion, to promote the blockbuster drama series, “Hilang Kasih Di Sarajevo“, which has already been aired on the national free-to-air channel since 9 January 2019. This drama series stars award-winning actor, Hasnul Rahmat, Nurul Aini, Norman Ishak, Jeff Catz, Hamidah Wahab, Fir Rahman, Adlina Adil, Shenty Feliziana, Bella Putri as well as sees the return of Rima Melati Adams on our television screens after a decade-long hiatus. The show also sees the introduction of Malaysian model-host-actress-rapper Amelia Henderson, who bears a very striking resemblance to international film star Gal Gadot as well as several Bosnian actors and actresses. This drama series is directed and written by the husband-and-wife team of Faisal Ishak and Umie Isa, no strangers already on these shores.

RIA 89.7FM‘s morning show presenters, Nity Baizura and Hans Ashrie, were the hosts at the gala premiere screening event…

Hilang Kasih Di Sarajevo” drifts between modern day and flashbacks from the 90s when Bosnia-Herzegovina was plunged into a civil war and mass ethnic cleansing. The aforementioned war serves as the backdrop to the story being told in this drama series, centering on its main protagonist, Rahman Iskander (played by both Norman Ishak and Hasnul Rahmat) and how he was separated from his Bosnian wife Zana (played by Alisa Brkic and Olivera Blazevic) when the war broke out in Sarajevo where he was based. He was tortured at the hands of the Serbs but was eventually released and returned back to Singapore after being found and rescued by the United Nations‘ peacekeeping force. He went on to rebuild his life and eventually got married to supermodel Ramona (played by Rima Melati Adams), but he continues to pine and yearn for his lost love, slipping into depression as a result. Well that’s the gist of the story that I can relate to you having watched the brief 70-minute screening on the gala premiere night where a bulk of the scenes shown to the audience were from the first three episodes.

Director Faisal Ishak relating to the audience some of the challenges faced during the filming. With him are Executive Producers, Safiyuddin Razif and Nusaibah Abdul Rahim

What I am impressed about the drama series are the breathtaking scenery of Sarajevo, the cinematography, the visual quality of the series which resembles more like a movie than a drama series and of course the pace of how the storyline is being told, which feels just about right. If there are some shortcomings or minor lackings, I would have to say, the CGI effects could have been done much better. But we all know to implement CGI-effects into a production is not cheap and will probably take several production or animation houses to get it right. I think with the budget that they were working at, it should be applauded that a local production house was able to achieve the kind of positive qualities that I mentioned at the start of this paragraph. The gala screening event also had several sections of displays showcasing some of the props used in the drama production as well as serving Bosnian delicacies to go along with the main spread. Truly they pulled all the stops for us to immerse ourselves into the drama series even before it was shown proper on television.

One for the album with the main cast, writer, director, executive producers, soundtrack singer, hosts of the event and new Mediacorp Head Malay Audience & Eaglevision, Community and Content Groups, Mdm. Sabariah Ramilan (centre)…

Some of my closest friends who know my character and how much I appreciate beauty might say I would have been smittened by Amelia Henderson. They might probably be right, having seen and talked to her up close and personal that night, but they are far from the truth actually. The one who caught my eyes the most with her innocence and honesty in delivering her lines was none other than young Bella Putri, the child star who is making her acting debut in this drama series, her first foray in the local Malay entertainment scene, having done several commercial ads and voiceovers for other productions. One could easily hear the audience warming to her with sighs of “Awwww…” every time she came onscreen to speak, moreso when there was a particular scene where she was scolded by her uncle Rahman for dropping his prized painting on the floor. I think this little girl’s career is just about to get a major upturn henceforth and we’ll probably be seeing more of her on television. Try looking out for the commercial advertisement on Changi Airport‘s Terminal 4 and you’ll see this cute little one prancing around in the trailer.

Marcell singing the official soundtrack titled “Cinta Tersembunyi“…

The gala screening of “Hilang Kasih Di Sarajevo” was not complete without the presence of Indonesian heart-throb and soul crooner Marcell Siahaan, the singer of its soundtrack titled “Cinta Tersembunyi“. It’s like a nice package when you get Rima Melati to act in the drama series, you complete it by involving her husband to compose and sing the soundtrack to the series as well. And what a lovely composition the song is! I instantly fell in love with the song and as I watched the scenes unfolding during the screening as well as the first two episodes that have already been aired, I began to understand the meaning of its lyrics better. I won’t be surprised if this song is to be nominated in 2021‘s Pesta Perdana for Best Soundtrack. For the record, “Hilang Kasih Di Sarajevo” airs every Wednesday evenings at 9:30pm on Mediacorp Suria.  Would just like to say well done to the whole production team at Poetry in Motion and let’s hope they will produce more good programmes like this! Thank you too Mediacorp Suria for inviting yours truly to the gala premiere screening! 🙂

Snapshots of “Hilang Kasih Di Sarajevo” Gala Premiere Screening

 

“Bendahara – A Betrayal” Review…

I did say in my promo entry a week ago that I am uncomfortable to review theatre plays and productions for the fact that I do not have a theatre background nor understand most of the technicalities to dispense my thoughts. But as I was typing my thank yous and gratitude to the main people at Sri Warisan Som Said Performing Arts Ltd, notably Madam Som Said and Marina Yusoff, for an extremely enjoyable experience last night, it dawned on me that not only should the main people be reading my thoughts, but the whole production team as well as the performers who numbered more than 117 should also be reading this on a more public platform, since I am not connected to everyone on Facebook due to my personal policy of being connected to only people I have met before in person. Hence this entry.

This rather short entry is also to share my personal experience as a watching audience, rather than as an astute observer or critic. Also for the fact that I want to surprise Marina and the production team, since they surprised me last night with a heartwarming gesture (more on that in a bit). Last night was one of the rare occasions that I did not bring my trusty DSLR nor video camera to catch the moments, but I think it is perfectly alright not to include photographs nor video clips in this entry, as I do not want to act as the proverbial spoiler for those who will be watching the final two shows later today. Anyway for those who are wondering, tickets are still available and can be purchased at the Kallang Theatre entrance. Just note that the two shows today are at 3pm and 8pm.

From a watching audience’s perspective, the missus and I enjoyed the whole production very much, and this is not because of what happened towards the end (again more on that in a bit). For me personally, I was blown away by the digital backdrop and various stage props which made the kampung and beach setting come alive. Each character was responsible in bringing out their respective roles and played with our emotions, in a good way literally so to speak. We felt tickled by the actions of Amza (Hamzah Adon), we felt anger by the dastardly acts of Memanda Menteri (Fauzie Laily), we felt the sadness and anxiety of the kampung folk towards the end. While the tears welled in my eyes towards the end, I noticed many others in the audience as well as my other half sniffing and dabbing their eyes, thanks to the excellent combination of the script, the actions as well as the soundtrack and its meaningful lyrics.

Like what I told Marina via Facebook, everything that was promised during the media conference three weeks ago was delivered and executed, even going beyond my wildest imaginations of what the surprises would be. But during the media conference itself, something in me detected that Bollywood elements would be injected into this production, even though it was not mentioned by Music Director, Zubir Abdullah. I was pleasantly surprised that my gut feelings came true last night. What astounded me in that particular segment was Marina herself. Put her in any costume and she will bring the character to life. She can be a kampung girl, a princess, a palace maid and you can be sure that she will look the part. Likewise during the short Bollywood segment, I saw a Hindi actress on stage.

There were also other twists in store like the injection of rap and hip-hop into the mix. Traditionalists might frown upon that particular segment since it was done with the performers wearing traditional royal costumes. But I thought it was a nice twist, a fresh element breathing life into royal subjects who are normally known as uptight and serious people at the mercy of the King or Sultan‘s commands. Though I have been waxing lyrical towards the production, I did detect a minor shortcoming. At times the characters’ voices were inaudible or drowned by the background music. I think that can be taken aboard and improved upon for the final two shows. Still, the minor problem was not enough to make me detract from saying it was an excellent show. If you ask me, given the injection of support and sponsors, it would be good if this production is staged abroad and adding more colourful elements. I’m hoping Malaysia‘s Istana Budaya would invite the production over for starters.

And finally to that pleasant surprise at the end of the show. As a small-time blogger, not paid for what I do as a hobby and mere passion to report and promote stuff on our local Malay entertainment scene, a mere mention of my moniker on the public address system at the end, made the heart flutter in excitement, to go along with the list of social and mainstream media mentioned for their respective coverage and promotional works. To be thanked in print on the programme book, made it even more worthwhile of the work l’ve done all these years. This is a definite first for me and one that I am very much thankful and feel honoured for. It gives me the impetus and inspiration to continue, as doing what I do on my own does not reward me in monetary terms. There were times too that I felt it wasn’t worth it, no thanks to several bad experiences. It has however given me satisfaction in making others smile and feel encouraged. Above all, it has introduced me to talented and inspirational individuals as well as groups. Thank you Sri Warisan!!! This means so much to me…

P.S. I said this was a short entry but knowing long-winded me, six paragraphs is kinda long, don’t you think??? 😛

“Bendahara – A Betrayal” Promo…

I purposely post this entry about a week before the musical play goes live at the Kallang Theatre so as to generate that hype even further, to go along with the ones some of you might have read in Berita Harian last week, or / and seen the short capsule on Mediacorp Suria. For the first time ever, I was invited to cover a media conference-cum-preview, involving one of our local Malay performing arts group’s latest offering “Bendahara – A Betrayal“. And this is not any group I’m talking about. It is the well-respected Sri Warisan Som Said Performing Arts group, no stranger to most of us and a brand name which is synonymous in upholding traditional Malay culture and heritage, in the form of dance and theatre.

It has to be said that I seldom post something pertaining to our local arts scene. It is not that I am not interested, but I seldom have the time and opportunity to watch and support such shows. At the same time, I feel at ease giving them the promo rather than reviewing their show. This is because, hand to heart, I am not a professional nor have any experience in the scene to understand the technicalities and background that some other known writers might have. Hence, this blog seldom features reviews or talk about the local performing arts scene. I do not want to come across as a know-all when my knowledge of the scene is practically zero to begin with. I wouldn’t mind watching if I have the opportunity, but I won’t feel comfortable having to review them afterwards. Like Fiza O‘s recent event which I reported in the last entry, I felt obliged to attend this media conference-cum-preview session of Sri Warisan‘s latest production, thanks to a personal invite I received from Marina Yusoff, the musical play’s Production Director.

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Bendahara – A Betrayal“, is staged based on events that happened on these shores, most notably when Singapore was “attacked” by swordfish or otherwise known in our Malay folklore as “Singapura Dilanggar Todak“. Till today, debates still rage on whether the incident did really happened or whether it is just a mythical folklore as a form of entertainment and storytelling for children alike. However, where the original story centred upon the character of Hang Nadim, the boy who was smart enough to outwit the swordfish but in the end, fell prey to the jealousy of those working in the royal palace, this play centres upon the character of Aman a.k.a. Bendahara (played by Hatta Said), the Chief Minister who was tasked to take away Hang Nadim, who also happens to be his step-brother. I will not play the spoiler by telling you how the story would end, as we were not told about it during the preview itself, so your guess is as good as mine.

From the preview, I was very much moved by the acting talents of Asnida Daud, who is making her theatre return in this production. She plays the character “Mak Limah“, the mother of both Aman and Hang Nadim. The scene where Tok Penghulu was to be arrested by Memanda Menteri and the royal guards was a particularly moving and compelling one, so much so that I had tears welling in my eyes when I watched it live, and again when I was compiling video highlights of the preview-cum-media conference. She is that good, cos she executed the right combinations in terms of physical movements, emotive facial and voice expressions at the exact moments. I felt her character come alive, moreso since she shed real tears too during that scene. Other characters to look out for are Memanda Menteri, the dual persona being played by Fauzie Laily, as well as Amza (Hamzah Adon), who provides the light-hearted moments in the play. And of course the main character himself.

This production is special for the fact that Sri Warisan reaches out to the younger generation by including students from Yuying Secondary School, Bedok Green Secondary School and Damai Secondary School. Also for the opportunity given to some of their performers, who have been with them for about five years, to come up with a choreography item for various scenes in the play. They have also invited Malaysia‘s Akademi Seni Budaya & Warisan Kebangsaan (ASWARA) Dancers to be a part of the play. Along with the fusion of silat choreography by Pesilat Pusaka Karuhun and Pesilat Tapak Suci Muhammadiyah, the play promises to be a spectacle for viewers, with elements of Disney and Hollywood incorporated into the mix, as was testified by Music Director, Zubir Abdullah, one of my favourite local singers.

Less than a week left to the show, I am very excited about this production as the preview promised a play that we can be proud of, if it is to be staged abroad as an advertisement on our culture and heritage, the marriage between dance and theatre. I strongly recommend that you get your tickets soon as they are selling fast at $28 each. The show will be staged at Kallang Theatre on 30th and 31st March 2012 at 8pm, with an added matinee show at 3pm on Saturday. There was a small birthday celebration afterwards for Marina and Huda Rahim, the head choreographer of the production, who share the same birthday (9th March) and those who attended got to sample “Pulut Kuning” and a variety of other traditional Malay food and kuehs. Thank you once again to Marina Yusoff and the good people at Sri Warisan Som Said Performing Arts Ltd. for the kind invitation, hospitality and good food served that night. I hope your upcoming production will be a resounding success!!!

Merah Pawana Promo II…

Last week I gave a detailed promo on the abovementioned event. This week, I’m uploading various interviews by the main and supporting cast, the director, Mr. Najib Soiman as well as the mastermind of the show himself, Mr. Rafaat Hamzah. So without further ado, I present to you the video clips. All credits of the videos go to “ayid85“…

 

Merah Pawana – Teaser

 

Interview with Sani Hussin & Hatta Said

 

Interview with Noris “Wandy” & Farah Ong

 

 

 

Interview with Najib Soiman

 

Interview with Rafaat Hamzah

Merah Pawana – Trailer