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

 

“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!!!

Anugerah 2017 Week 5 Recap…

anugerah-2017-week-5-140

Hosts Huda Ali and Suzairhe Sumari welcomed us to the show…

We have reached the halfway point of Anugerah 2017. How quickly time flies. Due to a couple of factors like a hectic work schedule this past week and for the fact that Facebook videos were taking a long time to load over the weekend thus hampering me from viewing their performances again, I will not be doing my regular individual analysis of the contestants for this week and probably the upcoming week, depending on my own commitments. Partly why I am not doing individual analysis for this week is also because I would like the contestants to have a reprieve because they have been slammed left, right and centre by the netizens for apparently bringing down the standards of this year’s competition. It is only fair that I allow them a breather and let them concentrate on their upcoming episode. By the way, the theme for last week’s episode were songs produced during their birth years.

anugerah-2017-week-5-1396

By the end of the night, we saw the elimination of Shafie Syed and Nadia Nadhirah, the former being the lowest-ranked by the judges and the latter by virtue of getting the least number of votes by viewers and studio audience. Do I think it was justified? I believe in the case of Shafie, it probably was. He has been quite fortunate enough to have a very good support base to have kept him in the competition for so long while putting in what I considered as safe performances. Actually his performance last week was ok, just that visually it looked a bit off and comical, with him singing a song with traditional nuances, but wearing a modern outfit. He actually got his “Lenggok Melayu” on point though. In the case of Nadia Nadhirah, she didn’t do too badly, in fact I thought she did better than the previous weeks I observed her. She was just unlucky that her votes were not enough to save her. Ironically the two bottom-placed contestants by the judges were the ones with the highest votes. There is only so long that they can remain that way before the judges place them at the dreaded last position.

anugerah-2017-week-5-162

The judges enjoying a bit of banter with the two hosts…

However, to be fair, quite a number of the contestants were recovering from a bad virus over the past fortnight. This was something the people watching from the comfort of home did not know, which affected their performances somewhat. I saw the amount of abuse directed at the contestants for bringing down the standards of the competition as mentioned earlier, some went as far as saying that this is the worst batch. I disagree with most of these dissenters because I can say that most of them have very short memories. If I were to compare with the 2011 batch, with all due respect to them, I personally feel this current batch is better in terms of vocal technique and execution. I was actually appalled at seeing someone from my list of friends on social media, questioning the standards when as a former reality television contestant himself, I expected a more compassionate and understanding approach having gone through the motions when he entered more than a decade ago.

anugerah-2017-week-5-3299

The final ranked positions by the judges by the end of the night…

People tend to forget these young upstarts are still raw and most do not have the benefit of having vocal coaches outside to guide them, what more have the knowledge of music / melody arrangement to make a difference in their performances. As I had mentioned before in previous entries, the buddies in the competition have limited time with them and can only share up to a certain point as instructed by the producers. The rest is up to the contestants to find ways to stand out from one another. People still complain to this day why the show pales to that of the likes of Mentor and Akademi Fantasia. The reason is simple. The concepts and mechanics of the competitions are different, sponsors do not pump as much money as that across the Causeway and with a population that is ten to fifteen times lesser than our next door neighbours, how do we expect to find such good or perhaps, exceptional talents???

anugerah-2017-week-5-3424

Shafie and Nadhirah gamely accepted their elimination and posed for the camera with buddy Hyrul Anuar

Our community only makes up about 15% of the population. From this 15%, the 16-29 years of age group probably make up about 2% or 3%. When we break down even further, how many from this age group actually have the talent to sing or want to sing in a reality television competition??? With talents now able to make music and sharing on social media, there is probably also another factor whereby they do not see that need to be known or to test themselves, knowing there are other avenues for them to be heard. People talk, complain and rant on a weekly basis, but they never stop to think of the bigger picture. Too many empty vessels making a lot of noise, yet they do not contribute substantially to the progress of the local music or entertainment industry and expect the people inside to create magic.

anugerah-2017-week-5-3425

The Top 6 semi-finalists… Will some of the eliminated contestants be given another chance to join them???

So far, there is still no news yet of any possibility of a Wildcard round in this year’s competition. However, I have a sneaky feeling that it will be done either this week or the next, because it seems odd that the quarter-final episode was on Week 5 and then you have another five weeks of competition. Take away the possibility of a two-legged semi-final episode, we’re left with three weeks, one of which is of course the Grand Finals. Well, that’s me being analytical and drawing upon my experience covering Anugerah competitions over the past decade. I could still be wrong. But till then, we will just have to wait and see as the Top 6 from last week’s episode is scheduled to fight it out once again tomorrow, live from Studio One at the new Mediacorp Campus at 8:30pm.

#theSyarifs’ Wedding Dinner Event…

theSyarifs Dinner 2014-11-22 189

Back with the third and final instalment of #theSyarifs‘ wedding. This entry will feature photographs of the wedding dinner event, which I felt resembled a mini Pesta Perdana event, with the local Malay entertainment scene’s personalities making their presence by gracing the occasion. It was a long day for the newly-weds as well as those who had worked hard to make the whole event tick, yet everyone was smiling throughout till the very end, happiness etched on their faces and sharing the joy of the newlyweds. The wedding dinner event was held at the same venue (Alkaff Mansion) as the earlier morning’s solemnisation ceremony and lunch reception.

theSyarifs Dinner 2014-11-22 174

Like the solemnisation ceremony, those who had tuned in to the couple’s official Youtube channel, would have gotten a glimpse of what went on live via the webstream. Unfortunately I heard that the full clip has been taken down by Youtube due to copyright infringements of some of the songs featured. Though you will not be able to view the clip, I hope this entry would satiate your thirst to view some of the event’s happenings as well as see who’s who in the local Malay entertainment scene who had turned up. This was afterall THE “Wedding of the Year” for 2014, for me. It would be criminal not to feature this entry in my blog, especially when the groom took great pains to invite me and the wife to attend. For that I say “Thank You!!!” to Syarif and Malaque for having us, me in particular, for almost the whole day.

theSyarifs Dinner 2014-11-22 209

The wedding dinner event was hosted by Ben Muthusalam, Syarif‘s intern-mate when he did his internship with Mediacorp back in 2009. Please don’t ask me why the host’s name has an Indian surname. Maybe his good friends reading this can help to enlighten me cos I’m in the dark myself. Guests were treated to lovely performances by local groups The Trisno Trio and Northbound, as well as a guest performance by Malaysia‘s Dina Nadzir, whose rendition of Katy Perry‘s “Unconditionally“, had my hairs standing. She is such an under-rated vocal powerhouse. We also witnessed Syarif singing a song titled “Malaque“, which he had composed with Trisno Ishak just two weeks leading up to the wedding event.

theSyarifs Dinner 2014-11-22 055

The eleven-tier wedding cake was specially baked by Malaque herself, whom some of us know specialises in pastries, desserts and cakes. Also, the cheesecake recipe during the dinner event itself, was specially concocted by her, assisted and executed by Chef Siti Mastura and team. Female guests were fortunate to have received a make-up kit by Benefit Cosmetics, to go along with the main door gifts consisting of a Grey by Ortenhill bag, a lovely jar series, Sugee cake by Chef Siti Mastura and Calvin Klein parfum vials. The gifts oozed class in every sense, a reflection of the newlyweds. All in all, it was a wonderful and memorable wedding event and here’s wishing the newlyweds once again a blissful married life with filial kids in tow… 🙂