Ratu Suria Grand Finals Review…

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

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

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

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

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

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The Top 6 Finalists!!!

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

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

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

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

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

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Fatin Amira, the deserving winner of Ratu!!!

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

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

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

Ratu Episode 7 Recap…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Presenting the six finalists!!!

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

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

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

Ratu Episod Three Recap…

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This past Tuesday 11 December 2012, the third episode of Ratu aired live on our television screens with the theme of the week being “Sports“. A slight change in judging personnel was made with Hafeez Glamour away in Taiwan on a working-cum-leisure trip with some of his ardent radio listeners. In his place was Hanis Hussey, the guest judge of the first episode. Joining Hanis and Nuraliza Osman on the panel was Muhammad Yusoff Shah Khamaruddin, former national Silat exponent and also a one-time info-ed host on Suria. As opposed to the previous week’s episode where the contestants were put through challenges relating to Malay Culture (making traditional Malay Kuih and performing a simple Malay dance routine), the challenges this past week were aimed at testing the girls on their physical capabilities, to see how they adapt at being rugged to balance their demure and prim image.

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I have to apologise to the girls cos I believe some of them saw me giggling away when they were up on stage in their Silat outfits, which were sponsored by Sports Silat Academy. I was not laughing at their respective moves, but more to how they wore their outfits. Some had tied their belts slightly above their stomachs and it looked quite amusing, at least to me. Kind of reminded me of Obelix, the rotund character in the Asterix cartoon series. Ok I know I’m being slightly mean here, but that’s besides the point. I observed some were rushing through their motions and their facial expressions gave away the fact that they were calculating their steps, while some others were looking down all the time. The ones who impressed me in this segment were Nur Aqilah Kamaruddin (Aqilah) and especially Tiara Atyra. The movements they made were a combination of grace and vigour. It was the perfect balance so to speak. But I just wonder why did some have simpler routines, and others had more difficult ones???

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I cannot comment much on the futsal segment as it was done outdoors and did not show a full account on how each of them fared other than the fact that Risliani won the Ratu-of-the-match award. My only complaint for this segment was some of the girls looked like they lacked enough sleep the previous night, with tired eyes and all, with some looking battered even before the game began. It didn’t exactly look flattering on them. As for the question-and-answer segments, I noticed there were a lot of similarities and overlapping of answers from one contestant to another. What could set them apart in this case and for future episodes are probably their confidence factor and how well they deliver their speech. I noted improvements being made by Jannah Jakasha and Surya Rahmanty as compared to the previous week. Confidence was just oozing out of the former while a bit of research was evident in the latter’s answer.

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Two eliminations were made by the end of Episode Three. I was kinda shocked to know that Sheril Izzyana whom I had earmarked as a potential dark horse of the competition, was the second to be eliminated along with Natasha Tan. It was a bit of a shocker, as I was generally impressed by her showings the previous week and thought she did not do too shabby this week either. Maybe it was the Silat segment that brought down her points, we will never know. Cynics of Natasha Tan on the other hand, might criticise her for her lack of proficiency in the Malay language, but I did observe that she did try her utmost best to find the right words to say throughout the competition, even if that eventually contributed to her elimination. Her over-eagerness could have also betrayed her poise during the Q&A segment. By the way, I will not reveal who my personal favourites are or who I think can progress further as I do not have a definitive list in mind, other than whoever that I mentioned as potentially good, is reflective of their individual showings week by week.

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Eiss was the guest artiste of the week…

So what’s next for the eliminated contestants so far? I cannot give a definite insight on the two earlier ones, Ziza and Diana, as their elimination was too early for me to learn their respective strengths. In Natasha Tan, I observed that she has an infectious and bubbly personality and off-camera, she is the livewire amongst the girls. If she harbours enough interest in the scene, then maybe what she can do is polish up on her language proficiency and join any performing arts company that can hone her interest. She would actually make a good host for a children-related programme due to her personality and energy, and I mean no disrespect when I say this.  In Sheril‘s case, I noted in my last recap that she has a voice suited for radio, television hosting and even news-reading. She can also train up on hosting skills and give it a shot if there are future auditions or openings for those positions I just mentioned. It is definitely not the end of their journey once they are eliminated, provided they still have the passion for it. A fine example I can give is RIA 89.7FM‘s Dzar Ismail, whose potential was discovered when he joined Anugerah Skrin 2010 but was eliminated halfway through the competition.

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On the social media front, I have been a silent observer of some of the photographs that the contestants have uploaded in their respective accounts and read some of the comments made by their friends, family members and supporters. While freedom of speech is welcomed, there should also be a certain amount of tact and respect observed. I saw some unnecessary criticisms made towards the other contestants and though I do not wish to repeat what were said or who said them, I just hope that such comments will not affect the friendship and sisterhood that has been forged amongst the girls. It would be a huge pity that their friendship becomes strained just because some of their supporters / loved ones leave hurtful comments towards the others and in turn might breed hidden contempt and dissent amongst the rest. No doubt it is a competition, but it should not turn out to be negative in any aspects. The bond that the contestants share from my month-long observation of them is a positive one. Let’s keep it that way!!!

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