Reasons For Being Away…

Surprised to see this blog post? I cannot believe it myself! How long has it been since I last posted an entry on this domain? A quick check stated that it was way back on 28 March 2019, more than half a year of non-activity, to the point certain quarters have started labeling me “Pujangga Malap“, a reference to indicate the burning embers dying out of my long involvement in the local Malay entertainment scene, which probably hold some truths if I were to reflect back on the past seven months. Technically I am semi-retired. Officially, I am not, which is why you are reading this latest offering. But who reads blogs nowadays? Is there still a “market” or interest in reading blogs, with content producers now pulling all the stops in creating visual content to attract viewers? A short chat I had with my Malaysian counterpart Budiey Isma of Sensasi Selebriti fame when we attended the final of Gegar Vaganza back in 2017, had him explaining how he was into creating more vlogs and video posts, rather than traditional blog posts, as viewers now prefer these kind of content. Two years on, you can see how one is able to earn a living through just creating content on YouTube or podcasts and it is catching up amongst the tech and social-media savvy in our community. Which makes my blog feel even more obsolete and passe.

I can easily follow this route, but I have dabbled with doing video highlights of events I attended before circa 2010-2012, and I realised that I simply have no patience for video editing, what more have the creativity to shoot my footage. My photo editing already takes ages to complete and half the time, I ended up not even sharing them here. Honestly if you ask me, I have lost the zest to go on doing this. You know when you have done something for so long, there comes a time when you just feel jaded and want to give it all up, a combination of factors in my life contributing to it – priorities, responsibilities, commitments, personal interests, the age factor, as well as politics going on in the scene which make me feel detached and distant to the point I seldom listen to local radio stations nor watch locally-produced television programmes nowadays. No this is not boycott on my part, neither am I angry with any individuals nor companies in particular. It’s just that sometimes changes in our surroundings can make one change their personal interests as well. But previously I had actually planned on retiring when I turned 40 last December. Why I stayed on beyond my planned date was because I felt I could still contribute to the community, as my blog has helped production houses and even other media outlets know who’s who in our local Malay entertainment scene.

Speaking of changes, circumstances happening around us can also make one feel detached and distant. I just found out earlier today that I can no longer provide / snap photographs of events I attend at a certain venue due to recent changes implemented which disallow non-traditional media like my blog domain to feature photographs / video snippets of live shows I attend there. If I were to feature any photos, then I would have to use those provided by them. I believe this was probably why I was not invited to cover the recently-concluded singing competition event. This newly-enforced ruling reminds me so much of Esplanade and also those set by certain organisers of concerts and showcases I attended in the past, where photography / video snippets are limited solely for traditional media coverage or coverage allowed up till three songs performed by the artistes on stage. I initially found it hard to digest when I got to know about it. To say I felt extremely disappointed and mortified upon knowing, was an understatement. It felt like my wings were clipped and pushing me to retire from doing entertainment blogging indefinitely. I have however, had the time to think through the whole thing and tried to find positives from it, no matter how small. But really in this age of social media, shouldn’t any coverage from any form of media be welcomed as it creates awareness and outreach?

I’m actually fine with this new arrangement to a certain extent. At one end, I can now sit back and enjoy the show transpiring in front of me without worrying about the hundreds or thousands of shots I snap and how they will turn out. On the flipside, it kills me not being able to feature photographs of pre and post-event happenings which I know quite a number of personalities look forward to, judging by how some, in their excitement to share with their social media followers, pester me to upload them as soon as possible. These are the kind of photographs that I prefer to snap just seeing the many happy faces meeting their friends in the scene, some meeting for the first time in ages. Personally I will feel incomplete if I do not share photographs snapped by me or having my own personal touch and trademark framing. Even if I am not a photography enthusiast and know zilch about its technicalities, seeing my framed subjects happily sharing my photographs with their followers give me a sense of contentment and fulfillment. Little things like these make me happy and I feel that my joy has been taken away as a result. It definitely will feel weird attending such events in future without lugging my camera, not coming early to get good photography spots and not being one of the last to leave the venue waiting for the last few guests to leave knowing I’ve snapped their photographs.

You know, I was actually so looking forward to the coming year ahead, with quite a number of big events coming up – Mediacorp Suria celebrating its 20th anniversary with a certain number one singer from Malaysia rumoured to be performing, my much-beloved awards show, Anugerah Planet Muzik, making its long-awaited return after a year of hiatus and StereoFest Asia organised by Adi Media Pte Ltd, the good people who brought to you events like CelebFest and Twilight: Flea & Feast under the banner of Rosevalley SG, just to name a few. Unforeseen circumstances such as these kinda derail my plans on making a good comeback. I dunno if I had done something wrong in the past which might have contributed to this new rulings to be introduced and enforced, but I know I have always abide by whatever rules there were previously and apologised if I had in any way gone against them unknowingly. I just hope that the new rules will be uniformed and not just against me / other local non-traditional media outlets. I do not wish to discover the possibility of foreign non-traditional media outlets being allowed to do what we are not allowed to at shows involving regional acts and foreign coverage. That would be terribly unfair on us who also support an event by our own people.

I know too that I owe my readers photographs of Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza‘s concert back in March and Pesta Perdana, just to name two major events that had happened over the past seven months. And then there were a few other events in between and some other showcases which I attended out of my own personal enjoyment, rather than “working” my role as an entertainment blogger. Should I be apologetic about my non-activity? In the past, I tend to apologise for any late entries or no-show at my end partly due to guilt, partly also having that certain affinity with my long-time readers and not wanting to disappoint them for waiting so long. Upon reflection, I do not see the need to apologise for my hiatus these past few months, because at the end of the day, this is a voluntary hobby done during my free time. I may eventually call it a day when I feel I have no more value to contribute to our local Malay entertainment scene or I will let it end just like that and walk away. I have actually been leaning towards it for a good part of the last seven months. How soon? It’s anybody’s guess…

Pesta Perdana 2019 Media Conference

We are just a few days away from the actual Pesta Perdana event itself, relatively about 48 hours on the clock. Dunno why it took me this long to post this entry when the media conference event that took place to announce the nominees in the various award categories happened more than a month ago on 21st February 2019. A combination of being busy with several personal commitments, coupled with being lazy and procrastinating contributed somewhat to this very belated entry. I had half the mind to just skip doing it altogether seeing how short of a time I have to post this up with just a couple of days away. I just had to do it as the memory of the media conference itself, or rather its venue where it was held, was probably the best one I had attended in the history of this awards show. For the first time ever, the media conference was held at the beautiful Skai Suites on the 70th floor of Swissotel The Stamford, one of Singapore‘s iconic buildings and once billed as the tallest hotel in the world.

Mediacorp Suria’s prestigious television awards show, Pesta Perdana, will be held this year ‘live’ on Saturday, 30 March 2019 at the MES Theatre at Mediacorp. The event will be graced by Guest of Honour, Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Minister of State, Ministry of National Development and Ministry of Manpower. The biennial awards show, now into its 15th edition, honours the very best in local Malay television. This year’s show will be hosted by multi-talented actor, director and host, Khairudin Samsudin. As a celebratory prelude, fans had the opportunity to meet and greet their favourite celebrities and nominees in a special event called Viva Pesta! that was held on Saturday, 16 March 2019 at Mediacorp Campus Town Square. Hosted by A B Shaik and Farhana M. Noor, the event featured an exciting line up of immersive and interactive activities with delicious food and many instagram-worthy moments for the fans. In addition, fans at Viva Pesta! also attended a special prelude TV show, Pesta Perdana Ekstra! hosted by recently-minted Elit Suria winners, Hans Hamid and Hana Rosli. This show will air tomorrow on Friday, 29 March 2019 at 9.30pm on Mediacorp Suria.

Warna 94.2FM‘s Aura Shai was the host at the media conference…

A total of 31 awards will be given out at the Pesta Perdana awards ceremony from over 300 entries received between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2018. Shortman Films’ social drama Bantal Buruk Saloma leads with 11 nominations while Mediacorp Eaglevision’s “Tujuh Hariis close behind with 10 nominations. This is followed by Flipside Stories’ “Mekah Di Hati and Millenia Motion Pictures’ “Tekan Minyak which are tied with 7 nominations each. In a nod to the budding new talents of the industry, this year’s Pesta Perdana boasts a total of 30 first time nominees in the performance and creative categories. Interestingly, for five celebrity families, it is all the more special as they are all up for nominations in the various categories and they are:

  • J.A. Halim, Aminah Ahmad, Helmindra & Fizah Nizam (Father, Mother, Son & Daughter-in-Law)
  • Sani Hussin & Rosita Hussin (Siblings)
  • Seriwahyuni Jaes & R. Azmann (Husband & Wife)
  • Faisal Ishak & Umie Isa (Husband & Wife)
  • Haslinna Ja’aman & Danial Nazim (Mother & Son)

Ms. Sabariah Ramilan, Head of Malay Audience & Eaglevision, Mediacorp addressing the guests at the media conference…

Other nominees include Papahan Film’s “SR115, winner of Best Original Screenplay at the Asian Academy Creative Awards 2018 and finalist at the New York Festivals TV & Films Awards 2019 for Drama and Best Screenplay categories; Xtreme Media’s “Swap Kerja Sr 2, finalist for Outstanding Variety Show category at the 4th Asia Rainbow TV Awards 2018, as well as Filmat36’s “Kembara Kasih Sr 3, nominee for Best Documentary category at the Venice TV Awards 2018 and finalist in the Community Service Programs category at the New York Festivals TV & Films Awards 2019. Two other nominated programmes, “Bonda and “Projek Kasih, are also recognised finalists at the New York Festivals TV & Films Awards 2019 for Drama Special and Variety Special category respectively.

Ms Sabariah Ramilan, Head of Malay Audience & Eaglevision, Mediacorp, said, “For nearly two decades, Mediacorp Suria has been working closely with local production houses and talents to ensure our programmes entertain, engage and remain relevant to our audiences. We are proud to see our programmes receive recognitions at the regional and international stage, but it is right here at Pesta Perdana that we celebrate and embrace the achievements of our homegrown talents.”

Hisyam Hamid being sandwiched by his missus, Mel Hanafi, and veteran actor, J.A. Halim

Though I agree with what was said, I did have a chat with several local personalities in different fields whom I will not name, who said a lot can be done after 15 editions of the awards show. For one and this has been mentioned extensively amongst the people in the industry, it would be nice to have monetary cash rewards to go along with the trophies they receive, something that we tend to see on some awards shows across the Causeway. However, to put things into perspective, Pesta Perdana is like our own local Malay version of the Emmy Awards. If we were to put it along parallel levels of such awards show (the Grammys and Oscars included), monetary awards are not given out, yet the prestige in winning speaks volumes for the artistes’ or production houses’ reputation, potential and quality. Monetary cash rewards means we need big sponsors pumping in big money. In reality, do we have that in the first place???

From left: Ryan Sufiyan, Razi Salam & M.K. Kash from Flipside Stories, and Fadhli Abdullah

For the Most Popular Male and Female Personality categories which are decided by voting, a prominent personality mentioned that it would also be nice if we were to take a leaf out of Channel 8‘s Star Awards show and crown the Top 5 or Top 10 from each category. Voters can have an initial choice of 30 from each category, 10 from the veterans, 10 from the current and the remaining 10 from the up-and-coming cohort. This particular system makes it an inclusive category and not leave the veterans forgotten or feel as though they are cast aside for younger, more good-looking and marketable personalities. I know for a long time, our local television scene has this tendency to favour looks over talents in the name of marketability, but I think it would not hurt at all to have the more veteran ones have their day in the sun. At least they know they have a place in the hearts of viewers and not just the young ones with better social media outreach. For the record, the public may cast their votes for the Most Popular Male and Female Personalities on toggle.sg/pestaperdana. Voting has been opened since 15 March 2019 and will officially close at 10.00pm on 30 March 2019.

Erwin Shah Dawson was seated next to fellow award nominees Aien Aksan (middle) and Batrisya Soffian

Another thing I would like to mention and this I feel is repeated like a bad record on my end cos I’ve said the same thing before in the past, is that certain categories can be expanded or introduced to include more production houses and not just solely limited to one. I have nothing against Mediacorp Eaglevision cos they, like all the other production houses, produce good and quality programmes on television. But when one category is dominated by just them, it doesn’t look quite good on paper as it looks as though it is favouritism, since they are producing this awards show after all, though I do note that this is probably an (only) avenue to honour their amazing in-house writers and producers. They can probably tweak the categories in future or as what I had mentioned in the past before, to have other production houses produce more of these Variety and Variety Special programmes on Suria, not just limited to them and being an in-house production company of Mediacorp. I think once in awhile, a different and fresh injection of ideas from others can produce a different kind of show on television. At least then we can deny the brickbats on social media that local television shows are one and the same.

From left: Atyy Malek, Endang Rahayu, Andy Idris and Huda Ali

With that said, I am looking forward to attending and covering this Saturday‘s event, as it is looking more likely that this will be the only awards show this year that local television will witness. I’ve heard and this has been confirmed by several people that my favourite awards show, Anugerah Planet Muzik, has been consigned to the history books, a big pity really, as this was an event that I looked forward to fervently every year, not only for the array of stars coming to perform and win the regional awards on offer, but also an avenue for our local musicians, artistes and songwriters to be recognised for their contributions to the music scene. My appeal to the powers-at-be is never to forget nor cast aside our local acts. Even if we were to resurrect the one-time Anugerah Hitz SG, I will be more than happy because this domain of mine was afterall first conceived, in the aim of supporting local music acts, though I sometimes blog on other regional acts on show here as well. Doing away with APM took a big chunk out of my interest in blogging and seriously speaking, I really lost interest and almost called it a day when I first heard the news. I guess that partly contributed to why I hummed and hawed before finally deciding to post this entry up.

A beaming Fadli Kamsani, who is now the latest face in Warna 94.2FM‘s stable, seated alongside his good friends, Danish Ashraf (left) and Farhana M. Noor

Pesta Perdana goes live on Mediacorp Suria at 8:30pm this Saturday, 30th March 2019. The Red Carpet event will be shown live on Mediacorp Suria‘s Facebook page from 6:30pm onwards.

Pesta Perdana 2019 Full List of Nominees

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Graphics Posters of Nominees courtesy of Mediacorp Suria…

Snapshots of Pesta Perdana 2019 Media Conference

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

 

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2018 Media Conference


Graphics poster courtesy of MediaCorp Suria and designed by Budi Iskandar Sa’ad

We’re just a few days away from my annual favourite regional awards event, Anugerah Planet Muzik (APM 2018), and I finally got the time to share what transpired during the media conference which was held on 31st July 2018. I could have posted this entry much earlier but Elit Suria which was more concurrent back then took precedence and I didn’t want to hype this event too early as we were still a good two months away. Anyway, this year marks APM‘s seventeenth edition with the unveiling of notable nominees from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam. Once again organised by Mediacorp Suria, Warna 94.2FM and RIA 89.7FM, the 2018 nominees were announced at Orchard Hotel‘s Grand Ballroom with performances by local artistes Farhan Shah, Izat Ibrahim, Liwani Izzati, Firwan Johan, Jagad Edge and Miiko the 13th. An estimated attendance of about a hundred local singers, musicians, producers and songwriters attended the event.

The APM trophies, which go through several revised changes in design and sizes over the years, again up for grabs this year…

What was intriguing about the media conference that day for me was the presence of Mimifly of One Nation Emcees fame, who is now a solo artiste. Seldom do we get a regional artiste attending an APM media conference here in Singapore in years past. Seeing her presence from a distance as I was going up the escalator, was an early indicator of her coming involvement in this year’s instalment. The moment I stepped off from the escalator, I met Ryan Sufiyan who let slipped that he is scheduled to perform with her at this year’s awards show. Instantly I knew that their song “Gila” would be up for nomination for one of the Best Collaboration categories. I guess years of following the event has more or less got me tuned in to the link between performing on the actual night and being nominated. Eventually when the nominations were officially announced, I was proven correct. Speaking of nominations, leading the list is Malaysian-based rapper-songwriter Alif Abdullah of former pop duo, SleeQ, with six nominations. This is followed closely by our local acts Aisyah Aziz and Sufi Rashid, Malaysia’s up-and-coming pop star As’ad Motawh, as well as Indonesia’s pop princess, Isyana Sarasvati with five nominations each.

DJs KC and Dzar Ismail returned once again as hosts for this year’s media conference. They were seen here with Farhan Shah right after his performance…

It is nice to see amongst the list of nominees a mix of young and the more experienced. Who would expect to see a legendary group like Search still churning out quality music in this current age of 90s revival music and social media sensations??? Or Brunei affirming their continued presence in the list with Jaz Hayat once again being nominated since his previous in 2016??? Indeed with the proclivity of social media as a daily staple for most of us, music has found a way for us to appreciate regional talents and for music producers to scout for budding talents. In the case of Bruneians like Aziz Harun and Jaz Hayat, they were fortunate to have Malaysian and Indonesian producers who saw the talent they possess, and now they are reaping the benefits of such collaboration. Which is what the Anugerah Planet Muzik brand is also about, getting to know talents from all four regional Southeast Asian countries, exchanging ideas, networking and eventually collaborating to make more good music for us to savour. As what former Lead of Mediacorp Malay Community, Ms. Zakiah Halim said, “As the only regional Malay music awards event, Anugerah Planet Muzik has always created meaningful opportunities and collaborations between artistes and musicians to raise their profiles in the region. We are proud that the APM 2018 nominees are trendsetters who are pushing the boundaries of creativity in their music.”

Ms. Zakiah Halim and Dr. Edmund Lam, CEO of COMPASS, addressing the attendees of the media conference…

Viewers can expect the hottest music acts and buzzworthy pop culture moments in this year’s APM that will be held at MES Theatre at MediaCorp Campus this coming Friday, 28 September 2018 from 9.00pm. The awards show will be hosted by RIA 89.7FM‘s Fiza O, Malaysia‘s Nabil Ahmad and Indonesia‘s Daniel Mananta. Another highlight of the media conference was the announcement of the performers for this year’s event, where usually they do not announce till much later due to confirmation of artistes availability. This time round, the organisers managed to secure the acts by the time the media conference came about. For the record, Anugerah Planet Muzik 2018 will feature hit performances by Dato’ Sri Siti Nurhaliza who is making a comeback to the event after a three-year break, Dato’ Rossa, Judika, Isyana Sarasvati, Ryan Sufiyan, MimiFly, Khai Bahar, Ayda Jebat, Sara Fajira, DJ Kenny Gabriel, Adrian Khalif, Farhan Shah, Jaz Hayat, G.A.C. (Gamaliel Audrey Cantika) as well as local band The Pinholes. I for one am very much looking forward to seeing the trio of Gamaliel, Audrey and Cantika (G.A.C.) for the first time live as I have been quite a big fan of some of their hits over the past year or so like “Satu“, “Cinta“, “Never Leave Ya” and their debut single, “Bahagia“. I will not be surprised if they are slated to open or end the show with their catchy songs “Satu” and “Never Leave Ya“.

The local artistes, as well as Mimifly herself (front row eighth from right), with a group photograph for memories sake…

Music fans and enthusiasts are also given the opportunity to vote for their favourite songs and artistes in fan-based categories from 31 July to 25 September 2018, 11.59pm on toggle.sg/apm. The categories are Most Popular Artiste (Singapore), Most Popular Song (Singapore), APM Most Popular Artiste, APM Most Popular Song and Social Media Icon. The theme for this year’s Anugerah Planet Muzik 2018 is Tropics / Tropical with the hashtag #TropicLikeItsHot expected to trend on social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, alongside #APM2018 and the returning #GilerTakGerek hashtags which caught on at last year’s event. Suffice to say, the next few days cannot come soon enough and I cannot wait to share with you photographs I will be snapping on Friday itself. Just so you know the usual drill, I will break down my posts and post them in instalment entries so you just have to come here every few days to check them out.

*Best APM Song and Special APM Awards will be announced on 28th September 2018

 

Snapshots of APM2018 Media Conference

 

“Maya” & “Adakah Dia” Singles Launch…

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

Shahfiq kicked off the launch by performing “Maya“…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kasih Berbisik Media Conference

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(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

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

(YouTube clip courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

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

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The stage all set for the media conference…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Highlights of Kasih Berbisik Media Conference

PujanggaMalam.com – Ten Years On…

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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… 🙂

Viva Elektra 2014

Viva Elektra

(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

It’s been awhile since I did a review on an event that I attended at the Mediacorp TV Theatre. Simply because when I accepted the invites from Mediacorp Suria to attend these shows or events, more often than not, I did not see the need to review as they are either a light-hearted affair or for charity. I was there to just snap photos of the event and during the reception afterwards without seeing the need to comment much. Sometimes I don’t need to voice my thoughts as others have done it for me on social media. Anyway there are so many keyboard warriors out there too quick to jump on the bandwagon of criticising without giving substantial suggestions. I guess it’s a favourite pastime now to use one’s handphone keypads to comment every single thing they see on the google box, be it good or bad. I’m guilty of it sometimes when I watch football and passions are running high.

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I note from several people I’ve met of late that this blog has somewhat stagnated and that the writer (or should I say, typist???) behind the words on this domain has lost his zest and panache to hit where it hurts, or to put it kindly, give a wake up call when it mattered. Over the years as I mellow down and become less confrontational and got to know more people, I find that it is a challenge to be as hard-hitting as before. I had to tweak and fine-tune my style so as not to be too cynical or cause frictions with others in the long run. Maybe fatherhood has made me more forgiving, understanding and giving others the benefit of doubt but I like to think I type better when I’m having that red mist and I don’t quite experience that as often as before. Wish I could post more entries but like I said from time to time, I am not paid to blog and this is something I do as a community service as and when I am free from my work, family and personal commitments.

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The front row audience consisting of bigwigs in the local media industry as well as guest of honour Dr. Mohd Faishal Ibrahim

Anyway, I was honoured to be invited again to attend the recent Viva Elektra event at Mediacorp TV Theatre. The two-hour variety special was the fourth instalment by Suria and was previously known as Suria Elektra (2010), Rock Elektra (2011) and Bandstand Elektra (2012). The show belatedly celebrated the formation of MediaCorp’s Malay Broadcast Division, the merger between television channel Suria and radio stations Warna 94.2FM and RIA 89.7FM, hence there was an eclectic mix of performers from radio presenters to television personalities and established recording artistes that night. Viva Elektra in a way, symbolised the division’s hopes to establish a commitment to continually bring high quality programmes to their audience, be it on radio and television. Expect to see more of such shows in the near future involving the radio and television personalities. We are already anticipating cross-platform programmes like TeRaSeh 2.0, R&D and the sixth season of infotainment show JUS! this month. Viva Elektra was just the start!!!

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The men who made the night ticked – Dyn Norahim and Khairudin Samsudin

Looking at how the radio and television personalities collaborated on stage, I had a feel-good feeling that we can expect more entertaining shows on television and radio as well. Yes, I will not deny that I’ve heard rumours going round that certain gigs and jobs are affected due to the merger, but I would like to call upon all the artistes who might feel a little slighted that their places and roles in television programmes might be taken up by their radio counterparts, to treat this as a healthy competition. Granted we might not be like our next door neighbour where there are so many channels one can tune to and for radio and television personalities to still do well when they cross platforms, but there are possible avenues that can be explored. Radio could possibly have seasonal guest hosts like what Fauzie Laily did co-hosting Skoolz with Nity Baizura a few years ago. Or if they were to have a shake-up of personnel, who knows, they might just rope in some of these television personalities into their stables??? Let’s not see it as a form of hindrance to one’s rice bowl, but to work as a unit to lift the standards of our local Malay entertainment scene.

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The cast of Tak2ut (from left): Ashmi Roslan, DJ KC, Fadhlur Rahman and Wan Haddad

Maybe a little criticism I would have of Viva Elektra was that feeling of imbalance in some of their segments. While the skit involving the Tak2ut cast (Ashmi Roslan, Wan Haddad and Fadhlur Rahman) and DJ KC seemed a bit short, the Bangsawan and Pentas Radio segments felt a wee bit too long for my liking. I just feel that the song performed by Eiss, “Arjuna (Mencari Cinta)“, was redundant and only served to prolong the segment, even though the audience and myself were tickled by the humour presented by all the performers involved. It is nice to see new faces on television like Wan Haddad and Nurfarhana M Noor given their big break on a big scale event as this. Also Junaidi Sali who often plays a supporting cast to be given the limelight he deserves after all these years.

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Fauzie Laily (left) seldom gets comedic roles but when he gets them, he excels…

Nurfarhana it has to be said, is a name and face to watch this year. Her stock is rising and it is not easy to score a lead role in one’s debut drama series (Rima Hatiku) and subsequent ones like Follow Fasha, unless one has the potential and package to succeed. She is currently seen in the new season of Di Luar Garisan and will be one of the participants for TeRaSeh 2.0. I won’t be surprised if she scores a hosting gig in the near future cos she has that bubbly personality to do it. You heard it first on this domain. Another one to impress me was RIA 89.7FM‘s Dzar Ismail. I’m a big fan of his daily Singa Maksima programme and from one karaoke session we had some months ago, I could see his hidden talent and passion in rapping, which was displayed that night when he performed “Cerita Kedai Kopi” with Tukangkata and Sezairi Sezali. I know some people do not quite like his sometimes excessive energy levels, but I think he is a breath of fresh air on radio. And yes I still claim credit unashamedly for saying he belongs in radio when I assessed his performances when he entered Anugerah Skrin back in 2010.

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The one to watch this year – Nurfarhana M Noor. A flower blossoming at a continued pace…

Another criticism I would add on will be the choice of performing artistes and some of the songs they performed. Before the show, I saw on social media how people lamented that it’s basically the same faces over and over again. To some extent, I would agree with them as I too felt the same way when I saw the list of performing artistes slated to perform. No I am not attacking or blaming the singers who performed cos they are all excellent in their own respect. My complaint would be a lack of more variety than what we’re used to. Take for instance we have so many bands producing good quality music in Singapore. The likes of Diorama, Tujuh, Klutz are some of the bands that are under-rated here. And if you speak of individual acts, there’s Reyza Hamizan, Sufie Rashid, Chomel, Aidil Akmal, Nurdiana Saad, upcoming acts who deserved to be given their dues and be introduced to the masses.

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The hosts replicating Ellen Degeneres at the recent Oscars and taking a selfie photograph with the audience…

I appreciate that we would want to entice people to watch as their favourites would be performing but it does not send a message that the artistes feel appreciated, even though radio plays their music on a daily basis. There is no point having your songs known on radio when people still dunno who you are. Just ask Audionauts when they won at APM2013. There were still people asking on social media and on newspaper reports wondering who they were. “Rentak Laguku“, the song performed by Aliff Aziz, Eiss and Sezairi Sezali, was another one that I felt was a bit redundant as it was only as recent as last October that we witnessed Amy Search and Bunkface performed the song at APM2013. And even though I love Taufik Batisah‘s “Sesuatu Janji” amongst all his songs to date, I think that was the fourth or fifth time he performed the song at a Suria event, in addition to APM2008.

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Group photo with all the performers that night once the cameras stopped rolling…

Overall, Viva Elektra was an enjoyable show, even if it did overrun by about eleven minutes. The choice of having Khairudin Samsudin and Warna 94.2FM‘s Dyn Norahim was a good one, with both trading barbs at one another and the latter being the brunt of many of the former’s jokes. At certain points, Dyn looked jittery but it should be forgiven as this was afterall his first live television hosting gig. Speaking to him afterwards, he said that it was nerve-wrecking and a very different experience compared to his daily live show on radio. Like many others before him, I am sure he will grow into the role and be better. Am certainly looking forward to seeing him host the new season of JUS! alongside the gorgeous Ainon Talib and Nurul Akhmar come the end of April. For now I can’t wait for TeRaSeh 2.0. It’s gonna be an absolute riot!!!