Monday, October 31, 2016

Nadiya Nisaa & Interchange

 Award winning actress Nadiya Nisaa talks to theSun about her role in the much anticipated movie Interchange.

 Headline: Roles For The Times
By Bissme S

Actress Nadiya Nissa’s character in Interchange, Sani, is more than 100 years old, but seems to have the power of eternal youth.
“Everyone lives and dies,” said the 31-year-old actress.
“But Sani has defied this life’s cycle. She is willing to go to any length to hide her secret. She cheats life, death and everyone around her. She is a manipulator.Roles like hers are rarely found in Malaysian films and I’m very lucky to play her.” 
Nadiya was not the first choice  to play Sani. The talented Sofia Jane had been cast in the role first, and had already undergone rehearsals with the production team.
But at the last minute, things did not work out, and Nadiya was pulled in to replace the veteran actress.
“I have fears that I will do not justice to the character because I had a limited time to prepare,” Nadiya said. 
“Initially, I wanted to reject the role.”
But Nadiya listened to her gut feeling, and changed her mind.
“I know Dain Said (the director of Interchange) will [do a good] job,” said Nadiya.  
“Dain is a director who loves his actors and he wants them to be happy with the end product.”
Dain conducted several intense rehearsals with Nadiya for her to understand her character. This is not the first time the two have worked together. Nadiya had worked on his previous film Dukun (completed in 2007, but never released) and enjoyed the experience. 
“I was only 18 when I first worked with Dain,” Nadiya said.
During post-production, Nadiya was happy to see that her scenes turned out well. She is aware that when Interchange opens in cinemas on Dec 1, people may compare her performance to how the role could have been performed by Sofia.
“I adore Sofia very much,” she says.
“Sofia is one of the best actresses in our industry. If people said Sofia could have done the role better than me, then it is good for her. I will push myself to do better next time. I will not have any resentment.
“But one must remember that Sofia and I are two different individuals andthe way I interpret Sani will be different from the way Sofia interprets it.”
Interestingly, in 2014, Nadiya played a young upcoming actress who called herself Sofia Jane in the movie Terbaik Dari LangitShe even imitated the famous coffee-drinking scene from Perempuan, Isteri Dan ... ? (1993) that shot the real-life Sofia to stardom.
The role got Nadiya the award for best supporting actress at the Malaysian Film Festival last year.
Her role in Interchange has her going toe-to-toe with award-winning Indonesian actor Nicholas Saputra.
“I am a fan [of his],” she says. 
“I loved him since his first film Ada Apa Dengan Cinta.I had to remind myself during the shoot that I am [his] co-star.”
Nadiya added that Nicholas was kind enough to help her to get into her character once he learned she joined the project late. 
“He is not a selfish person but helpful and kind,” she said. 

“He is willing to share his knowledge with me.”
Nadiya said she has always loved acting, since she was a young girl. Her mother encouraged her ambition, and Nadiya confessed she would love to act “till my hair turns white”.
“This is not an easy dream to achieve,” she explains. 
“Sometimes the industry can kill your spirit, and you just feel like
When asked to cite an example, she says:
“Some production managers will call you and just ask you if you are free on certain dates to act in their projects. Then, they will ask you about your [fees]. But they will not tell you about the script and your role.
“The script will be given to you just three days before the shoot. In some cases, you only get the script on the set. These people just want you to come on the set, and [say] the dialogue. They do not care if you fit in the role or not. They do not care if you can give a good performance or not.It just goes to show the industry does not respect actors. This can be very demoralising.
“You begin to question why should you put your heart and soul in your role, when such attitudes exist. All I can do for now is to develop a thick skin, ignore such attitudes and only hope the industry will change for the better."

Scenes of Nadiya Nisaa in Interchange

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Remembering A Legend: Sudirman

Datuk Faridah Merican will presenting a concert as a tribute to the legendary singer Sudirman. The concert will feature some of the famous songs from Sudirman 

Headline: Remembering  A Legend 
By Bissme S 

Next Year will mark 25 years that Sudirman Arshad has left us. The music legend was only 37 when he died. The Actors Studio founder Datuk Faridah Merican is set to direct a special tribute concert next week to mark the occasion. The concert, which will take place from Nov 3 to 5 at the Kuala Lumpur P erforming Arts Centre, (klpac) will be entitled One Thousand Million Smiles. 
This is inspired by the name of the song that won Sudirman the title of Asia’s top performer at the 1989 Asian Popular Music Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Sudirman cemented his reputation by beating some of the greatest singers from around the region, such as Singapore’s Anita Sarawak, Hong Kong’s Leslie Chung, Japan’s singer-songwriter Epo, and the Philippines’ pop diva Kuh Ledesma. 
The 90-minute One Thousand Million Smiles concert will feature performances by six local singers – Aaron Teoh, Amir Hazril Harith, Dasha Logan, Ian Chow, Joel Wong and Tria Aziz, each known for their dynamic and powerful vocals, much like Sudirman himself. 
They will be singing 20 songs that he made famous, such as Balik Kampung, Chow Kit Road, Aku Penghiburmu, Lagu Anak Desa, Lagu Dari Kota, Basikal Tua and Merisik Khabar, among others. Part of the proceeds from ticket sales of the Nov 5 performance will be used to start a Sudirman Scholarship Fund, which will be offered to Malaysians keen on pursuing their dreams of becoming entertainers. 
“I have always thought of doing  something to pay tribute to him,” says  Faridah.  
“I never got the chance ... till now.” 
It took Faridah and her team months to get the concert off the ground. One of the challenges was getting permission from recording c ompanies to use his songs. 
“I must say that everything went smoothly,” she says. 
“I would like to believe that he (Sudirman) is helping us from [heaven].”    
She explains that the concert is to introduce the younger generation to Sudirman and his songs, and to take his long-time fans for a walk down memory lane. 
The One Thousand  Million Smiles  concert will also feature Sudirman’s nephew, Razman Azrai, also known as Atai. 
He will also be singing a few of his uncle’s hits. As a child, Atai had appeared alongside his uncle during a number of his concerts and television  appearances. Atai is especially thrilled that Faridah is helping to start a scholarship fund in his uncle’s name to help aspiring  performers. 
“The concert is for a good cause and that is why I am taking part in it,” says Atai. 
For Faridah, the concert is her way of honouring an iconic individual. “
I loved the way he handled himself on the stage and the fact that he sang for all  Malaysians.” 
She cited Sudirman’s famous open air concert in Chow Kit Road – which drew a crowd of over 100,000 – as a testament of his love for the country and his fellow Malaysians. 
“It was a great idea to [ organise] a  concert like that, and I ask myself why we [never did] it again,” she says. 
“I do not think anyone [can follow] in his footsteps.” 
Faridah strongly feels that more should be done to remember Sudirman. She suggests that s omeone could produce a musical theatre p roduction on Sudirman’s life, just like what was done for late singer-director P.Ramlee and  cartoonist Lat. 
One wonders what is the secret behind the timelessness of Sudirman’s songs. 
“In my opinion, his songs are still appealing because they relate to our everyday lives,” Atai says. 
“Malaysians are still patriotic. We still respect our parents and we still celebrate our religious holidays.” 
When asked to describe his uncle, Atai says: “Sudirman was a very humble person who was willing to sacrifice himself for others. He was bold and brave enough to do things where people said it 
would be impossible.Nothing was impossible for him.”

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Deepavali 2016

Deepavali is tomorrow. We got a few artists and entertainers to describe their Deepavali plans as well as what Deepavali meant to them.  

Headline : Spirit of Deepavali 
By Bissme S

ON SATURDAY, Malaysians will be celebrating Deepavali, one of Hinduism’s main festivals. Spiritually, Deepavali signifies the victory of light over darkness, and of good over evil. We asked a few Malaysian celebrities and entertainers about their Deepavali plans. 

Hardee Bee, beatboxer and emcee 

“Deepavali is a time for bonding with your family and friends. “Deepavali is also a time to be grateful. I have a lot to be grateful for this year. “I [opened] for Anirudh Ravichander (a well-known film composer and singer in India), when he held a  concert in Kuala Lumpur early this year. “Anirudh also asked me to provide some beatbox rhythms for the song Nee  Kadhalan, for the Tamil movie Remo (starring  famous Madras movie star 
 Sivakarthikeyan). I managed to showcase my talent outside Malaysia.”  

Revathy Mariappan, TV host 

Deepavali is about family, friends and food. Deepavali gives you the opportunity to catch up with your [loved ones] while [eating 
everything from] thosai to mutton curry. 
Usually, my Deepavali morning starts with a visit to the temple with my husband. Then, we will have breakfast with my parents, followed by lunch with my in-laws.    
When I was a kid, I thought Deepavali was about playing with firecrackers,  getting new clothes and  money packets. Now as 
an adult, I understand the real meaning of Deepavali. It is about
bringing smiles to others.”

M. Subash Mannan, film director and actor 

Besides acting and  directing, I also run  tuition classes in Banting and Cheras. My students and I are planning to visit an orphanage on the first day of  Deepavali. 
On the second day of Deepavali, we will be visiting an old folks’ home. We will be bringing them food and also entertaining them. We want to bring cheer and brightness to [people]. Deepavali is about the glow of love and we should be spreading [it] all over the place. 

Alinda A. Alphonse, singer-actress 

My aunt passed away early this year so our celebration will be a low-key affair. We might take a trip to the sea. 
When you are a child, Deepavali is all about  receiving – from the food, to ‘ang pows’. When you become an adult, your role changes. On  Deepavali, you are the one giving to [the young ones]. I don’t go overboard with buying  Deepavali outfits. I just make sure that I wear [at least one new piece of attire] in the morning. It could be something as simple as just getting a new pair of shoes. 
I never forget to take the oil bath and go the temple on Deepavali morning. I would like to advise my fans to drive carefully on the road and not to play with fireworks. The last thing you want is an accident.”

Aanantha, TV host, radio deejay and actor 

I have been taking up yoga and meditation for some time, and last year, I became a vegetarian. So when I visited people last  Deepavali, they were  surprised when I did not eat their spicy prawns and their juicy  mutton. Some of them teased me for missing out on the delicious food. But I have [enjoyed] being a vegetarian. My stomach [aches less]. 
Deepavali is about forgetting the animosity you have with others, and building a better relationship with everyone around you.

 Shanjey Kumar Perumal, film director  

I got married recently. I will soon become a father. According to Indian custom, in the first year of marriage, I should be celebrating 
 Deepavali with my wife’s family in Rawang. On the second day of Deepavali, I will be going back to Parit Buntar, Perak, to visit my 
I must also count my  blessings that my film Jagat won the awards for for best  director and best film at the recent Malaysian Film Festival. I have been  working hard to make this film a reality for the last 10 years. My attempts have been fruitful.  

Ajith Bhaskar Dass, Indian classical dancer  

I have two dance shows coming up. I will be busy rehearsing, but I only take one day off on Deepavali day. My siblings from Kuala Lumpur and Penang will be coming down to Johor Baru to spend the festival with me and my mum. 
During my childhood days, my Chinese and Malay friends would visit me. There was a lot of appreciation for each other’s culture then. “These days I do not see this happening and that is not healthy for the community and the country

Monday, October 24, 2016

Diana Danielle & Hanyut

Diana Danielle speaks to theSun about her role as Nina in the much anticipated Hanyut under the direction of U- Wei...... Read more about here 

Headline : Finding Her Identity 
By Bissme S

ONE could say that the role was tailormade for Diana Danielle. The 25-year-old actress is portraying the character of Nina in the much anticipated Hanyut, set to open in cinemas on Nov 24. 
Nina is the product of mixed parentage. Her father is a Dutch trader, while her mother is a Malay midwife. In the film, Nina goes through an identity crisis, torn between her Malay and Western roots. 
“I could relate to Nina instantly,” says Diana. 
Diana herself comes from a mixed heritage. Her father is an American, while her mother is a Malay. 
“When I am in America, they see me as a Malay, and when I am in Malaysia, people treat me as a Westerner,” she explained.  
She recalled going to her mother’s kampung as a child to visit her distant relatives. They immediately brought a chair for her to sit.  “They felt I was not ‘Malay enough’ to sit comfortably on the floor like they did,” she says with a laugh. 
“I believe a lot of kids who come from a mixed parentage can relate to Nina.” 
Thankfully these days, Diana no longer has to face such situations. “I have spent most of my [life] in Malaysia,” says the mother-of-two, who is married to talented actor Farid Kamil. 
“There is nothing American about me, except for my blood. I am a Malay at heart and I believe Nina feels the same way too.”  
In Hanyut, Nina falls in love with a Malay man, to the disapproval of her Dutch father. But Nina chooses to go against his wishes, for the sake of love. 
“I’m a romantic at heart and I [see] that quality in her,” says Diana.  She points out that Nina’s father is not a perfect man, and has done terrible things to her and her mother. 
“It is admirable for Nina to forgive her father and love him despite his flaws,” she says. 
Yet Nina herself is far from perfect. 
“She has a lack of control over her life and her destiny,” Diana says.
 In one scene, Nina bids goodbye to her father before leaving him. The scene has special meaning for Diana. Her parents divorced when she was a child, and she has not seen her father since.   
“I never got to say goodbye to my dad,” Diana says. 
“When Nina says goodbye, I [felt] as though I [was] saying goodbye to my dad, too.”  
Initially, Diana wanted to be an actress because she thought that once she became famous, it would be easier for her father to find her. Eventually, she was forced to accept that he was never going to be a part of her life. 
“It was at that point that I realised I [had to] become an actress [for my own sake],” she says. 
She says she harbours no anger towards her father, and if he comes knocking at her door, she would calmly accept him with open arms. “I am not going to judge my father,” she says. 
“I feel nobody gets into a relationship and has children with the aim of abandoning them.”  
Diana adds that she nearly missed her chance to play Nina in Hanyut when director U-Wei Haji Shaari was holding extensive auditions for the role. 
“A lot of young actresses were dying to work under U-Wei,” Diana says. 
 “I was only 18 [then]. I was a struggling actress and a newcomer. I was certain that he would not choose me over a wellknown [actress].” 
Diana decided not to attend any auditions. She regretted her decision almost immediately. Fortunately for her, U-Wei did not find a suitable actress and Diana was able to visit him, and succeeded in auditioning for the role then. 
Diana admitted feeling intimidated being a part of Hanyut, because the film has many capable regional actors in the cast, from award-winning Malaysian actor Khalid Salleh, to the late Indonesian veteran Alex Komang. 
“I have to make sure my performance is not below par,” she said. Her favourite memories from the film shoot revolve around the poignant scenes she shares with Sofia Jane, an actress she admires greatly. Sofia plays Nina’s mother Mem Putih. 
Diana describes Sofia as a wonderful co-star who helped her to deliver her scenes more convincingly. 
“Sofia is so beautiful that she looks like my daughter, and I looked like her mother,” she says with a laugh. 
Some people have remarked that Diana closely resembles Sofia. 
“I have asked U-Wei if he chose me [for the role] solely because I look like Sofia,” Diana says. 
“U-Wei is not the kind of man who will give you a straight answer. So, I just stopped asking him [why]."

A scene from Hanyut... see the movie

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Larry Reed & Shadow Plays

Today thesun published an interview international artiste from America Larry Reed who had staged more than 200 shadow plays all over the world 

Headline : Enthralled By Shadows 
By Bissme S

California based  international theatre artiste Larry Reed has certainly proved that shadows can be beautiful and intoxicating, having staged more than 200 impressive shadow plays all over the world.  Reed was in town recently to conduct a shadow-play course. He was here to teach shadow play to  Malaysian theatre artiste Sabera Shaik, the owner of Malaysian  Masakini Theatre. The two are collaborating on a new shadow play depicting the history and culture of our very own Orang Asli. Right now, Reed is carrying out research on the subject, and the production will hopefully see the light of day in 2017, once it has gained enough funding.  
At a recent interview with theSun, the first thing he did was to show a sample of one of his  productions called Xanadu and I was blown away by the quality of the play. The experience of watching Xanadu was almost like watching an impressive black-and-white animation.  
“I love theatre and filmmaking,” Reed said. 
“Shadow play is a c ombination of film and theatre. When you do shadow theatre, you are putting your work against a white screen.” Reed’s exposure to shadow theatre began in 1970. 
“I wanted to learn a new language [of communication]. I wanted to [find] a  theatrical art form other than musical theatre that used music in the productions.” 
One of his friends suggested he visit Bali. When Reed was there, he watched a wayang kulit (shadow play) performance called Mahabharata, a major Sanskrit epic from India which centres on five brothers trying to regain their throne. Reed was totally captivated by the magic of s hadow theatre. He was especially impressed by the role of the Tok Dalang.  
“It is a great challenge for an actor to play all the roles in one production,” he said. 
Reed returned to the US and began to take a short course in Asian theatre, learning the art of wayang kulit. One of his teachers suggested Reed learn the art form under the tutelage of the 
teacher’s father in Bali. And so, Reed travelled to Bali again.    
He admits the Balinese shadow players were completely 
surprised that a foreigner wanted to learn their art form.  
“They usually pass the  knowledge to their children and grandchildren, never to an outsider,” he said.       
But they accepted Reed with open arms. He brought the knowledge he learned back to America and in 1972, he started his own theatre group – Shadowlight Productions – which specialises in staging shadow theatre productions. 
Reed explained that shadow plays are like dreams, and the audience have to use their  imagination to complete the whole picture. 
“We do not spoonfeed our audience, and there is always audience participation in the storytelling,” he added. 
Reed felt this attracts more people to watch shadow theatre. He pointed out that there is so much colour in artistic productions these days that he loves p resenting his art form in black and-white. “Shadow plays allow me to do that.” 
Reed could not give any  reasonable explanation for his fascination with shadows. 
“As a child, I noticed shadows all around me,” he said. 
“I grew up in a farm and I remembered an incident as a kid where I woke up [and] saw the shadow of a bug, and I thought it was a beautiful thing to see.”  
Reed said that a lot of mystical beliefs are associated with shadows. For example, in Java, you are not encouraged to go out during midday, because you may step on your own shadow. 
“We are always looking at shadows and it is only valid that we include them in our theatre productions,” he said. 
Larry Reed ... shadow fascinates him 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Sofia Jane in Hanyut

Today theSun published an interview Malaysian amazing actress Sofia Jane who talks about her role in much anticipated movie Hanyut

Headline: A Hurt That Cuts Dee
BY Bissme S

WATCHING the rough cut of U-Wei Saari’s much-awaited film Hanyut, screened for a selected audience, is an eyeopening experience. 
The opening scene is dramatic, where actress Sofia Jane, looking distraught and crying her eyes out, runs towards the river to prevent a boat from leaving. She even jumps into the water to do that. Then, out of nowhere, another boat appears with a white man onboard. He grabs Sofia by the hair and drags her back to shore. Meanwhile, Sofia is screaming her heart out …  
As the film progresses, we learn that Sofia is playing Mem Putih, a Malay woman of Betawi origins who is married to Dutch trader Kasper Almayer, played by Australian actor Peter O’Brien. Almayer has just heartlessly separated Mem from their 10year-old daughter Nina, who is being sent to Singapore to attend school there and learn to be a Westerner. 
The opening scene finally makes sense: the boat Mem is chasing is taking her daughter away and the man who is stopping her is her husband. 
Mem begins to hate her husband for separating her from their daughter. She becomes a bitter woman and wants to inflict her pain on her husband. Revenge has blinded her to the point that she is even willing to use their daughter to hurt the man she hates.  Hanyut, based on Joseph Conrad’s first novel Almayer’s Folly, will open in cinemas here on Nov 24. 
When U-Wei first came out with the idea of turning this particular novel into a film 15 years ago, he had award-winning Indonesian actress Christine Hakim for the role of Mem in mind. 
But as time passed and taste changed, U-Wei decided to give Sofia the role instead. Watching the film, one can say that U-Wei has made the right choice because Sofia has nailed the role of a frustrated mother and bitter woman brilliantly. 
The actress had read the novel years ago. When she was offered the role in Hanyut, she picked up the novel again and explored the role of Mem Putih in more detail. 
“Conrad’s depiction of Mem Putih had intrigued me,” says the 44-year-old Sofia. 
“I believe her pervasive rationality is instrumental to the story. Set in the 1800s, we see a cultured and liberal Malay woman. This opened up a whole new set of possibilities for me as an actor and a woman. 
“In all honesty, such characters are often found in books but rarely documented in films.”       
Sofia enjoyed shooting the scene where her character Mem is finally reunited with her daughter Nina after 10 years. The grown-up Nina is played by Diana Danielle. 
The scene where the mother and daughter try to find common ground to reconnect after years of being apart is both touching and emotional.  
Mem’s pain and bitterness of having her child taken away from her has led the actress to go back to a period in her life she had not wanted to revisit. Years ago, Sofia had lost her son. 
“All those emotions came rushing back once the rehearsal started,” she recalls. 
“I embraced Mem from day one. There is nothing fictional about those feelings.”   
In fact, Sofia can also relate to the emotional feelings that her screen daughter Nina goes through in Hanyut. Nina is constantly searching for her identity, whether she is a westerner or a Malay. And like Nina, Sofia comes from a British-and-Malay parentage.    Hanyut features an international cast and crew and Sofia cherishes the experience working with them.  
“To have an international cast and production crew deconstructing and contributing towards a slice of our history, our culture and our language has been amazing,” she says. 
Hanyut also sees her reuniting with the director. The first time they worked together was in UWei’s controversial debut film, Perempuan, Isteri Dan …. 
“Working with people I like and being comfortable is important,” she says. 
“U-Wei has much faith in his team and vice versa, and this is important on a film set. He has been a wonderful and trusted friend which is why I will never say no to working with him.”  
When asked what is the the biggest challenge being a Malaysian actor, she says: “It’s to remain challenged and curious. You can only do that if you get the chance to work with people who keep you on your toes.  Great materials are not easy to come by. In six years’ time, I will be 50. I am telling myself not to compete against the giants because performing has never been about that.”