Te:RaSeh! 2.0 Episode 3 Recap…

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Episode 3 of Te:RaSeh! 2.0 last Tuesday (22 April 2014) saw the Mats seizing the initiative to take the overall lead against the Minahs. Even though the Mats triumphed by about 70 points against their counterparts. In truth, the challenge from both camps was close and hard-fought, separated only by the final face-off (Boria) where the Mats went one better through the substance of their lyrics, that was in line with the night’s theme (Malay Icons). In my corresponding entry last week, I did say to expect the likes of Badang, Mahsuri, Munshi Abdullah etc. but some of those are more associated to Malay Folklore / Historical Figures. So I stand corrected that night when “Jeffrydin” (DJ KC), “Najip Ali” (Taufiq Salleh), “Sudirman” (Izzat Yusoff), “Rahimah Rahim” (Suriani Kassim), “Dato’ Sharifah Aini” (Nona Kirana) and “Anita Sarawak” (Sarah Aqilah) emerged from the back.

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Personally I feel that the theme of the night should have been called “Malay Entertainment Icons” instead, since there were also “Dato’ M. Daud Kilau” (Khairudin Samsudin), “Ramlah Ram” (Dalina Jaapar), “Dato’ Ramli Sarip” (A B Shaik) and “Ziana Zain” (Nity Baizura). The term “Icons” is quite broad-based as we do have successful Malay figures in different fields and industries, icons in their own rights. Sarah Aqilah rightfully won her title for (Wo)Man-of-the-Match. She impersonated Anita Sarawak down to a T – from the pouts, the leg-swinging, the batting of the eyelids, a worthy winner even if her team came up short. I am expecting another close battle tonight when Episode 4 beckons. It is extremely interesting to see the husband-and-wife team of Huda Ali and Den Sabari squaring off against one another and if there will be sparks as a result. Well we just have to wait and see. 8:30pm, only on Mediacorp Suria

Ratu Episode Two Recap…

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This is a very belated entry on last week’s second episode of Ratu. And since it is so close to the third one happening later today, I guess I’ll keep it short cos for those of you who had missed out on watching the show, you may catch-up via the XinMSN site. Last week’s episode saw the first two eliminations being made. The competition bade farewell to Nura’zizah Ibrahim (Ziza) and Fadiana Zulkifli (Diana). So what do I make of their culling??? That night, I felt it was a bit harsh, especially to Diana, whom I personally feel has one of the most endearing and sincere smiles. But smiles alone cannot save them from being eliminated. The one that sealed her fate was probably the time when she stuttered during the Q&A session. And perhaps her posture and body language, which the judges might have penalised her for, cos I can’t help but notice it since the very first episode. It is however, not all grim for her, as I believe she is currently leading the standings for the Ratu Popular subsidiary award, which is voted by the viewers.

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Fauzie Laily and Marina Yusoff…

As for Ziza, it was difficult to point out where she went wrong. Maybe it was the dance segment that pulled her marks down. But then again, most of the girls are not natural dancers to begin with, save for some with prior experience like Nur Aqilah Kamaruddin (Aqilah). I just hope that Ziza‘s elimination had nothing to do with the possibly limited roles she can play in future, just because she is donning the Hijab and even though it is I have to admit, kinda odd to see someone donning the Hijab performing a dance routine, but there have been known Hijab-wearing ladies who have performed dance routines / Dikir Barat performances before this. I would like to hear the judges explaining the reasons behind each elimination made, to point out where the contestants have gone wrong and how the rest who are left, can learn from it. But maybe this is done off-camera. Again all is not lost for Ziza and whoever is eliminated henceforth, as they also qualify for the other subsidiary awards to be handed out during the Grand Finals, either by fan votes (Ratu Popular) or by the judges.

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The judges – Nuraliza Osman, Hafeez Glamour and Madam Som Said

The Q&A session was a good way for the girls to open up and “sell themselves” to the judges, as well as warm themselves to the audience and viewers at home. I admit after hearing them speak, in general I felt that most of their comments were scripted and memorised, but for first timers, I thought most of them did alright in terms of sharing their personal experiences. They just need to learn how to come across as natural as possible and this I must stress upon, cannot be done and perfected overnight. Some did go a bit off-topic but I guess they were trying to find a variation to how they answered the questions put forth to them, so that none of them would sound similar to one another. Three contestants stood out for me during the Q&A session – Sheril Izzyana, for the tone of her voice (I swear that voice is suited for radio / television hosting / news reading. Close your eyes and listen the next time she speaks, you’ll know what I mean…), Elfiana Ismail (she exuded so much confidence in her delivery) and Wida Alisa (hers was a simple one but had some wit to it and a bit of self-confidence thrown in as well, though I may also add that she did stumble on her words momentarily).

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Some flaws I noticed and wish to share with the contestants so that they can better themselves henceforth. Some of them should try to eliminate the “singing” tune that accompanied their voice projection and delivery of speech. It sounded as though they were either hosting a children’s programme or reading straight from a book. It glaringly highlighted the fact that they were memorising word-for-word, or reading as though they were sitting for an oral exam, when they are supposed to come across as natural. I do note that some of the less-proficient in our mother tongue are trying their utmost to speak the language well, but they need to calm down and not get too overly-excited. Likewise I understand the nervy feeling each of them have when they have to speak to the audience and those at home, but they just have to remain stoic and not let their guard down by showing negative body language and posture.

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The judges I believe, are observing minute details like the one I just mentioned in the last sentence. I guess Hafeez Glamour also had pointed out that they should not be displaying negative traits / uttering comments that could bring down their marks. It is one thing to be honest and true about yourselves, but there are also ways not to highlight what can be generally accepted by the judges as their weakness. Maybe a little tact could have been practised when uttering such comments, for example, “Saya ni bukannya penggemar kuih Melayu sangat…” can be substituted with “Saya jarang dapat menikmati kuih Melayu, melainkan tibanya musim Hari Raya…“. The example I just gave is probably a bad example of a substitute comment I can think of off-the-cuff, but the negative impact on the contestant is lessened somewhat in that aspect. However, I can also counter what Hafeez had mentioned by asking, why did the people behind the editing of those pre-recorded clips highlight those negative portions when they could have edited them out??? Or at least tell the girls that it is not ok to say this or that. It could have been avoided actually or it could have been done so that the judges can remind the girls the dos and don’ts expected of them.

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I wanted to comment on Haizad Imran‘s performance that night, but I guess I just don’t have the heart to. The audience in the theatre as well as those watching at home would have noted that his performance during the second song item he performed, singing Dato’ M. Nasir‘s “Juwita Citra Terindah“, was to sum it up in a nutshell, an absolute disaster. I will not say more nor highlight further as I believe he had his personal good and valid reasons. I feel it is perhaps unfair to comment negatively and harshly, without first speaking to him and finding out what actually contributed to his lacklustre performance that night. But it is a lesson for everyone who is in the entertainment line or who harbours to be in the industry, or even going about our every day life, to do our proper homework and prepare well for the tasks ahead of us. Failing to plan is indeed planning to fail. The words cannot be more true. Till the third episode of Ratu

“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??? 😛