Taufik Batisah makes big screen debut
Local singer-songwriter Taufik Batisah says his role in upcoming Malaysian drama-comedy Dukun Doktor Dani came quite naturally to him
His angelic voice makes women swoon and his dance moves never fail to drop jaws.
Now, local singer-songwriter Taufik Batisah is taking his talents to the big screen for the first time in a Malaysian drama-comedy, Dukun Doktor Dani.
The 34-year-old, who scored the titular lead role as Doktor Dani (Malay for Doctor Dani), told M last week: "It was a big and pressurising leap to take the part, but I knew it was something I wanted to do.
"Even more pressure was put on me when I found out I was going to be on set alongside popular Malaysian actresses like Fasha (Sandha), Khatijah (Tan) among others."
The film, produced by Astro Shaw, is set to open in cinemas in Kuala Lumpur on July 28. There is currently no release date for it in Singapore.
He said: "The hardest thing was acting alongside such a talented cast.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: Taufik Batisah makes his big screen debut in Malaysian movie Dakun Doktor Dani (above). It opens in cinemas in KL on July 28. PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR, ASTRO SHAW, INSTAGRAM/ TAUFIK
"Both Fasha and Khatijah have done so many movies. Even (other cast members like) Amirul Affendi and Yus Edoo have a lot of experience doing theatre, so you can imagine the pressure on my shoulders.
"But I was game for it."
Although his acting experience cannot compare to that of his co-stars, Taufik, who has only previously appeared in local telemovie Demi Adriana and TV series Shooting Stars, said his personal life helped his on-set performance.
"Doktor Dani is quite a Mummy's boy and, in real life, so am I," he said with a laugh.
The character is the "pride and joy" of his kampung, but he leaves for the city to pursue his medical career. But after a failed operation causes his patient to die on the operating table, Dani quits the profession and moves back to the kampung.
Back in his hometown, Dani works alongside his kampung doctor and starts practising traditional Malay medicine, which does not always follow theories of medical science.
"And his mother is disappointed in him after she had spent almost all her savings putting him through medical school," Taufik said.
He added: "Being a mummy's boy, disappointing my mother is something I fear and I could relate to how Dani felt at that point."
He finds acting "a lot more difficult" than singing, he said.
"Perhaps, after all these years, singing has become second nature to me, but acting doesn't come so naturally and I know I've got a lot to learn," he said.
"There was one scene where Dani loses his cool after being pressured by many people in his life. The director just told me to put myself in his shoes and really let go.
"Whatever was written in the script was off the table. Everything in that bit was all ad hoc."
When asked if venturing into acting could expose him to being criticised, Taufik said that the past 12 years in the business - since winning the inaugural Singapore Idol in 2004 - has prepared him well for any criticism that may come his way.
"I accepted a long time ago that you can't please everybody," he said.
"Having been around, from pre-social media to post-social media, I've heard so many different things said about me and my craft."
For this movie, however, Taufik said he has "no idea" if he was up to scratch.
"I have not seen the film so I don't know how well I did.
"Even if I watched it, I don't think I will be able to decipher. That's something that will be entirely up to the viewers."
Taufik is set to appear as the male lead again in Malaysian romantic comedy Soulmate opposite Malaysian actress Raja Ilya.
"I like acting and I certainly hope it is something that I can do seriously, for sure," he said.
However, Dukun Doktor Dani, which he filmed for close to two months in Kuala Lumpur and Pahang, meant leaving behind his new wife, 32-year-old local freelance events coordinator Sheena Akbal, a week after their wedding in April last year.
Taufik said: "I felt so bad, but she was very understanding about it... she was the one who encouraged me to take the opportunity.
"I called her every night while I was on set."
He will be in KL again for Dukun Doktor Dani's premiere at the end of the month, but for now, is looking forward to visiting friends and family and "the amazing food" that comes with the Hari Raya festivities.
He said: "Both Sheena and I come from large extended families so visiting can take a toll, but honestly, nothing beats visiting loved ones with the love of my life."
Being a mummy's boy, disappointing my mother is something I fear and I could relate to how Dani felt at that point.
- Taufik Batisah on how he got into his lead role
Keep a date with KRU
After a 17-year absence, popular Malaysian group KRU are headed back to Singapore to kick off their 25th anniversary celebrations.
Brothers Norman, Yusry and Edry Abdul Halim stole hearts back in the 90s with their catchy pop hits and electric dance moves.
The trio will be performing at the Esplanade Concert Hall next month in a one-night-only concert as part of Pesta Raya, the Malay Festival of Arts, sponsored by Singapore Press Holdings.
Speaking to M over the phone from Kuala Lumpur, eldest sibling Norman said: "I'm quite excited about the show, I'm having dreams already."
The 44-year-old, who heads KRU's multi-business empire covering music, film, education and F&B, is confident that he and his brothers can put up a good show for their fans here.
"I'm not sure we can get 15-year-olds to scream 'KRU' anymore," he said with a laugh. "It's going to be more of a family event."
Norman added that KRU's Singapore gig is just the start of their plans for their 25th anniversary, which includes commissioning a documentary on their career, a film festival to showcase their screen projects and concerts in Malaysia.
"We're involved in many aspects of the industry, so there's going to be a number of different activities. There's a lot for us to celebrate," he said.
KRU went on a hiatus in 2006 to pursue individual endeavours.
Middle brother Yusry, 43, is a film director and has directed several Malaysian box-office hits, such as Cicak Man and Hikayat Merong Mahawangsa.
Since his actress-wife Lisa Surihani gave birth to their daughter last September, he has been making an effort to keep his schedule free for quality time with his family.
Meanwhile, Edry, the youngest, has been involved in Akademi Fantasia, Malaysia's popular reality TV singing show.
The 40-year-old was the head trainer for last year's season, when Singapore's Sufie Rashid emerged victorious, and is returning for this year's edition as music director.
"We're all busy with our own stuff, but for the next month, the concert is our top priority," said Norman.
Despite the siblings' busy schedules, they never fail to get together during Hari Raya.
Their tradition is to spend the eve at their parents' house and go to the mosque for prayers the next morning.
This Raya will be Yusry's first as a father. Normally, he calls himself the "Hari Raya Grinch'', but is excited to bring his baby around this year.
He told M: "It'll be a new and pleasurable experience, so I'm looking forward to that."
WHAT KRU 25
WHEN Aug 6, 8pm
WHERE Esplanade Concert Hall
TICKETS $45 to $105 from Esplanade (www.esplanade.com/pestaraya)