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

 

APM2016 Snapshots

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Artistes from Paranormal TalentsAyda Jebat, Haikal Ali, Aisyaah Aziz and the company’s chief Melakaboy

Back with my second instalment. I actually wanted to post this entry up this past Wednesday but got caught up with some personal matters, hence the delay in publishing this entry. For those who are in my Facebook contact list or linked to those whom I had tagged, you’re probably the more fortunate ones cos you get to view these photographs much earlier when I uploaded them early this past week. Anyway these photographs are just a selected few and not everything that I had shared on Facebook. Personally I feel that I did not snap that many photographs during the Red Carpet event, the Pre-Event Cocktail Reception and the Post-Event Reception, as my attention that night was taken up by chatting with some of the artistes and people in the industry. I only realised how few my photographs were when I uploaded all of them onto my PC, hence why I combined them all into one entry. Hope it will suffice for now as I continue to edit and select the 3000-odd photographs I snapped that night and of course come up with my review of Anugerah Planet Muzik 2016

APM2015 Snapshots…

APM 2015 - Media Release(Graphics poster courtesy of Mediacorp Suria)

I return once again with another APM2015 entry, my second instalment of this year’s edition. This time, I’ll be sharing miscellaneous shots I took during the “Red Carpet” event, the “Walk of the Stars” segment as well as a few shots I took post-event. Unfortunately there was no post-event reception this year and the “Walk of the Stars” segment had to be cut short due to time constraints before the event proper began, so there were not many photographs that I took and certainly less of a variety as compared to previous years.

Also since I am basically a one-man team, I had to leave the “Red Carpet” event at the hall’s entrance to take shots of the events transpiring on stage. In years past, I would have broken my entries into several postings, but this year, I’ll just post my miscellaneous snapshots under one entry, with my review coming much later, as I still have five thousand-odd photographs I need to sieve through and pick the best ones to be featured. Hope this filler entry before my review would help to satiate your thirst to view the photographs of the event. I will not put a timeframe to the publication of my review entry but I hope I will not take another month to post it up… 😛

Pesta Perdana 13 Snapshots

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It has been a fortnight since Pesta Perdana 13 was upon us. A lot of post-event thoughts and comments were made on the winners or what happened during the event itself, some of which have been downright vile and preposterous in my opinion, but that is something I will discuss on another day. I am still in the midst of editing the 3400-odd photographs I snapped that night but just to satiate your wait, I’ll be sharing selected photographs I took during the pre-event cocktail reception, during commercial breaks as well as during the post-event reception in this entry. Hope this will be a good filler before I share my after-thoughts… 🙂

#theSyarifs’ Wedding Dinner Event…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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… 🙂

Anugerah Planet Muzik 2014 Review

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It’s been three weeks since Anugerah Planet Muzik 2014 (APM2014) was held at Suntec City Convention Centre on 17 October 2014, but the memories of the prestigious awards night are still fresh in my mind. I cannot guarantee if I will blog as lengthily as what everyone has been used to reading when it comes to my annual APM reviews, simply because on the surface, I doubt I have much to dissect and analyse this time round. But you’ll never know, since I have this tendency to blabber, make sidenotes and references that would eventually veer me off-course. But that’s the beauty of this blog, other than the many photographs that everyone loves to come in and see. I just wish I can make this a full-time career, but is there a proper industry here in Singapore to begin with??? 🙂

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The right choice for the opening performance, Taufik Batisah with his current hit “#Awakkatmane“…

In years past, I would normally take the trouble and effort to read the reactions of the general audience and see their comments on social media. Not this year, as I did not wish to concern myself with the “Macam Faham” keyboard warriors. These people will always be there on social media, ever ready whenever there is an event on television, quick to comment on things that are trivial and out of their understanding, but still feel the need and urge to comment when they know nuts what is going on behind-the-scenes or understanding reasons behind certain shortcomings. But I believe this year’s event had few controversial incidents (more on that!!!) or arguable award recipients as in previous years. Congratulations to the organisers as APM2014 was the top trending topic on Twitter worldwide that night!!!

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Yacko, Joe Flizzow and Sheikh Haikel continued where Taufik left off…

I had extremely good vibes about APM2014 days before the event, for the sole reason, this was (and if my memory still serves me well), the first in its thirteen editions, that it witnessed a sell-out crowd. Between 2001-2005 I remembered APM being close to a full house, but there were still empty pockets here and there. I attributed the presence of legendary Malaysian rock group WINGS and seeing Ariel of NOAH after his well-documented legal struggles, as the two main factors that pulled in the audience this year. In the past, we might have had household names like Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza and Taufik Batisah to help entice the crowd to attend, but still their presence were not enough, even if they continue to receive the biggest cheers every time they appear on stage. This time, I’m sure it felt like a major coup to have two of the biggest bands in the regional Nusantara music scene to grace the APM stage. This was the first time WINGS made an appearance at the awards show and the first time Ariel appeared since Peterpan performed at APM2005.

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Hosts for the night – Dyn Norahim, Sarah Sechan and Nabil Ahmad

But the sell-out audience was also a major factor in me stopping short of saying this was the best APM in years. Yes the event itself, in terms of performances and overall production, is probably up there amongst the best and most enjoyable ones in its thirteen years of existence, but the atmosphere was close to dead from my humble observations. Other than Taufik Batisah‘s opening performance or whenever he appeared onstage either to receive his three awards or presented with Najwa Mahiaddin, the only times the crowd came alive were when Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, NOAH and WINGS made appearances. The atmosphere during the rest of the other performances or award presentations felt like a morgue, or at the very least, just courtesy applause heard. At times, one could just hear a pin drop. That was how bad the atmosphere was and I had to turn around a couple of times to see whether it was really a sell-out audience or not.

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A common feature of APM – Performances by artistes from the three countries together onstage – Maria Calista, Mafarikha Akhir and Aisyah Aziz

I expected a bit more vigour and pride from the audience, when our local artistes who were nominated in the regional categories, had their names announced as the nominees. Or when the likes of Aisyah Aziz, Sufie Rashid, Sezairi and Sheikh Haikel performed. But it was just dead, with little to no positive reaction, save perhaps when Sufie Rashid won his award for Lagu Terbaik Singapura (Best Singapore Song). I wondered aloud that night, aren’t we proud to see our own acts stand toe to toe with the region’s best??? I was seething throughout the night at the thought and somehow when I’m typing this and recalling again, I feel that sense of anger returning. Last year, we had a party atmosphere with fans bringing drums and percussions, even when it was not a full house. It was just a big pity the same fans were not around to hype the audience. Or perhaps told not to bring their instruments into the event venue. But even if they were not allowed to, I’m sure they would still be in full voice.

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The cool cat, Sezairi, performed his nominated single “Sayang“…

This year, there was a change in hosts from Singapore and Malaysia. Dyn Norahim (and not Ibrahim. Astro & MeleTOP please take note!!!) from Warna 94.2FM and Ahmad Nabil Ahmad, the winner of the second season of Malaysia‘s Raja Lawak reality competition took over the microphone duties alongside APM veteran Sarah Sechan. Indeed this was Dyn Norahim‘s first big break hosting an event of this magnitude, where the region’s eyes were on him. He admitted to having a lot of jitters before the show, in awe of his two colleagues whom he felt were more prolific in their crafts as hosts and extremely quick on the draw to butt in when he fluffed his lines during rehearsals. But I told him not to be overawed by the occasion and he would do just fine. Most importantly, I reminded him not to go overboard with some of his jokes, and overall I think he did extremely well without trying too hard.

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Sultry Najwa Mahiaddin serenaded the audience with “Impian Terindah“…

While I’ve heard of many negative feedbacks about Dyn Norahim‘s performance that night, mostly from the online brickbats, I thought he did not do much wrong for a newbie on the APM stage. Local radio listeners would have been disappointed not to have witnessed Dyn‘s alter-egos Abang J and Mr. Wong, or that he might not have matched Nabil‘s wacky personality, but there needed to be a certain balance with all three hosts complementing one another, rather than hogging or competing for the limelight. Dyn is outgoing and comical in his own way and did not need to match Nabil pound for pound in the wacky stakes. Nabil‘s butting in at several award presentations and chiming in with wisecracks when others were presenting, were either welcomed or a source of irritation, depending on how you tolerate his style. Just that I was a bit uncomfortable when he made a joke about plane crashes in this very same year his own country suffered two tragedies of that nature. I was expecting some backlash from his countrymen about it, but thankfully I’ve heard none of it till today.

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Loved Tulus‘ humble speech when he won his award for Artis Baru Terbaik (Lelaki) / Best New Male Artiste

Speaking of backlash and the earlier mention of controversies that arose from this year’s edition, poor Dzar Ismail was targeted by the Indonesians on Twitter for unwittingly using the term “Indon” to refer to the “Indonesians” when he presented with Hanis Zalikha. For those who do not know, the term “Indon” is derogatory to the Indonesians. It is either a racial slur or a negative connotation to describe them. But I know Dzar Ismail did not mean it the way the Indonesians had slagged him off for it. For one, the term is used here in Singapore as a shortened name for Indonesia / Indonesians. Most, if not all of us, even Malaysians, use it as a shortened word of convenience, and not to degrade or look down at our neighbours. Even the Indonesians living here in Singapore refer to themselves as “Indon“, so I was a bit surprised at the amount of abuse being directed towards Dzar Ismail. Our own Berita Harian congratulated their new President by using the same term as their front page headlines recently. So really, it’s a matter of cultural misunderstanding. It would be nice however, to take note, not to use it during such events where we are interacting with Indonesian audience, out of basic respect and courtesy. It’s like the N-word where it is ok for the Negros and blacks to use it amongst themselves, but not us.

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Dato’ Rossa and Taufik Batisah‘s onstage chemistry was intense and passionate to say the least…

I don’t think there are any major grievances pertaining to all the award winners. Previously, our regional neighbours were up in arms when any Singaporean artistes were to walk away with the popular regional award categories, but the winners this year (“Dia Dia Dia” – Fatin Shidqia Lubis and NOAH) somehow could have been justified in their eyes. I might not hear or perhaps been oblivious if there are any objections towards Taufik Batisah winning the Ikon Media Sosial (Social Media Icon) award. This is a guy who has timed his return to perfection and launched his latest album at the right moment, a month before APM2014. With his viral videos with the hashtag “#awakkatmane” making its rounds since Ramadhan and resulting in countless number of parodies being made, it was a no brainer. Rightly so that such an award conferred to him reflected his influence. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate Taufik on getting more than a million views on YouTube for his latest music video “#Awakkatmane” within three weeks of uploading it, and also for the hashtag to be the top trending topic on YouTube Malaysia.

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One of the top draws of the night, Ariel and NOAH

Such popularity comes with the caveat of having haters as well. You either like the “#Awakkatmane” song, or you do not. Personally I love it, in fact I need to listen to it daily as a form of perk-me-up. However, linguistic “Nazis” like myself however have a little grouse with regards to its title, where “mana” is spelt as “mane“. Releasing it in the middle of our national Malay Language Month, where speaking good Malay is encouraged, also felt a little odd but I know for one that Taufik meant no disrespect whatsoever. By adding that hashtag at the beginning of the title meant, he probably was taking a dig at those who love to misspell or spell out of convenience in social media or online messaging. Nonetheless, I am so hoping and wishing that with this new album launch, his viral clips and music video as well as his collaboration with the likes of Altimet in his new album and two of his songs being chosen as the soundtracks for drama series shown in Malaysia, it will finally be the big break that has eluded him all these years. Ten years in the scene, it is high time he becomes a household name across our shores. Sidenote, the voice of the lady in that hit song does not belong to Fiza O. Wonder how some people came to such a conclusion when the voice tones of both ladies are different.

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Odd to see Judika attending APM without his wife Duma Riris, but congratulations to them on the birth of their firstborn, Cleo Deora Boru Sihotang

I was and still am elated over the awards won by Awi Rafael for his collaboration with Altimet for “Kalau Aku Kaya” (Kolaborasi TerbaikArtis / Best Artiste Collaboration), as well as those won by Aisyah Aziz for “Mimpi” (Kolaborasi TerbaikLagu / Best Song Collaboration) and Sufie Rashid for “Tiada Pengganti” (Lagu Terbaik SingapuraBest Singapore Song). I did say last year that I would not at all be surprised if “Kalau Aku Kaya” were to be nominated in at least the Duo / Kumpulan Terbaik (Best Duo / Group) or Kolaborasi Terbaik (Best Collaboration) categories. I stopped short of saying the song or collaboration would win outright last year, for the fact that I had yet to listen to newer songs from other artistes, but if I had the choice to award them for it, I would have given it to them last year. However, my hunch came true this time and I thought it was a satisfying reward earned by two artistes whom I have so much respect for in the regional music scene.

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One of my favourite photos of the night – Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza belting “Jaga Dia Untukku“…

If there is an award for “Most Improved Performer” over the past year, I would give it to Sufie Rashid in a heartbeat. He has grown so much since his first forays in the scene, joining the various reality talent competitions on television, only to falter in the earlier stages. He was one of the guest performers during last year’s APM2013 Media Conference, along with Yaya Hamid, but he did not impress me at all that day. He was a bag of nerves and had pitching issues when he sang. In short, I was cringing when I watched him. I remembered Aura Shai asking me to upload a full video of his performance that day but I chose not to, cos I did not want viewers to slate him or subject him to abuse from online brickbats. But I know and can see that he has taken great pains to improve himself over the past year. Most importantly, he has gained so much confidence onstage thanks to his involvement in the recent SG Mania competition on Mediacorp Suria.

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Judika and Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza teased a possible collaboration when they presented at last year’s APM and called themselves “Ju-Si“. This year it became a reality when they sang “Apakah Ini Cinta“…

SG Mania, I felt, was the making of Sufie Rashid. Where once he had confidence issues, he is now a fearless performer onstage. His performance during APM2014 made my hairs stood and I was happy for him that he was not overawed when paired with the likes of Hazama and Cakra Khan. He told me afterwards how he was worried that he might have upstaged the other two when he went for the high notes. I for one, was afraid his voice would crack as a result, but he pulled it off much to the audience’s approval, judging by their whoops and cheers. Credits also go out to members of The SallysShafiq Iskandar, Izwan Khuzair and Rusdi Badri for composing “Tiada Pengganti“. This is an under-rated local band that has produced quite a number of radio-friendly hits. But my personal favourite from their collection of songs till this day is still “Gadis Marmalade“. Like my blog, the band recently celebrated their tenth year of existence this year.

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The fearless performer, Sufie Rashid

I enjoyed all the performances that night from the start right till the end. In fact, I did not feel the time passing by till the voiceover announcement informed that Dato’ Siti Nurhaliza, Dato’ Rossa and Aisyah Aziz were up next, indicating the second last performance of the night (I had the benefit of knowing who was performing in order of performances and songs thanks to the media press kit given to us). Slowly but surely, the organising team have begun to master the art of keeping things compact within a two-and-a-half hour timeframe. The commercial breaks were short, between three to four minutes, and most people who went to relieve themselves or went out for a quick smoke break ended up returning to their seats during the following commercial breaks or rushing back when the live cameras were rolling. Where previously the event felt like a drag, I have seen a lot of improvement in this area over the past two to three years.