Monday, October 30, 2006


Nine Ringgit? Man, they don't come cheap these days, I thought to myself as I reluctantly parted with my RM10 note at the cashier counter. I lost the patronage to all women's magazines since resigning from the industry two years ago, but I was curious this time to check something out.

The November issue of Female was the thickest mag I had ever come across: as thick as a telephone directory and dense enough to ensure success in a physical act of self defense. With the pages seemingly spilling forth, I thumbed around to the 50 Gorgeous People 2006 spread, gasped, giggled, and hurried back to my office.

That same evening I was scheduled for a long-overdue appointment with my sweetheart of a friend, Razif. Catching up on life with him has never been a dull affair, although his depth of both rational and emotional intelligence occasionally makes my own aptitude quiver like cold tofu.

We engaged in laughs and conversation over a cheap but hearty dinner, and I caught hold of a comfortable silence to toss him a coquettish flutter of the eyelids.



I pulled out the magazine from my knapsack, split it open in the middle, and slid it across the table.

His eyes popped at the left page,

While mine had already popped at the right.

All we could do for the five minutes thereafter was laugh, laugh, and laugh a bit more.

"You didn't tell me you did this!"

"YOU didn't tell ME you did this either!"

We gawked at our pictures placed side by side.

"This is PURE FATE, man!"

When I was shortlisted to be part of the shoot back in July, I hadn't thought anything else of it until I received an email from the magazine last week informing me that I made it to the final fify. I was dreading to attend the publicity events on my own, a black sheep amongst forty-nine outwardly hot human beings.

And to find out that I know one of them, it's now going to be one heckuva party.

Female's 50 Gorgeous People will be making an appearance at the magazine's Bumper Roadshow at 1 Utama (Highstreet), 12th November, 3pm - 3.30pm. The Finals will take place at Zouk KL, 2nd December, 7pm - 10.30pm. Votes for the Most Gorgeous Male & Female can be made via SMS. Details in Female's November 2006 issue, and also in the follow-up blog entry.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Digestion, Absorption, Assimilation

I blinked at the contents of the clear glass bowl, that in my limited field of perspective could have equally passed off as either a large brown lump of overly soggy rice, or a large brown lump of dehydrated congee.

"It's rice mixed with some coconut, brown sugar, raisins, a bit of milk... it usually has cashews but I didn't have any on me today. They often make these in the temples too. You can try it and see if you like it." She spoke with that unmistakable ring of trustworthiness that goes hand in hand with motherly status.

"Cool... What do you call it?"

"In Tamil, we call it P__k__."



"Puh-, poo-k-... How do you spell it?"

"I don't think it's one of those things that is ever meant to be spelt out," Vig remarked endearingly.

Vig's mother had prepared a humble feast for Deepavali for a table of four this afternoon. Admittedly, it was one of the pulling factors behind my consent when Vig offered me his place for the weekend, for me to get some solitude he knew I desperately needed. Waking up to the smell of Indian spices was also an unforseen bonus.

"So, would you like to start with white rice first, or the sweet brown rice?" Vig's mother asked. Despite my overwhelming curiosity, I picked up the ladle for white rice and dug out my usual ration. Vig's girlfriend did the same, and proceeded with helping herself to the dhall curry.

On the other side of the table, I saw Vig's place... similar ratios of sweet brown rice, dhall curry and coconut chutney, all of which he had already begun to mush together with his eating hand.

Unwilling to allow myself to stay dumbfounded, I asked for Vig's girlfriend to pass me the brown rice. I scooped out two spoonfuls onto the side of my plate. I carved out a small chunk out of it and took a slow, deliberate nibble. The natural sweetness of rice slowly oozed out to blend with the brassiness of brown sugar. The rough caress of dessicated coconut against my gums, my incisors splitting the weakened skin of a raisin. I gave a nod of intrigue at Vig's mother, who was observing my first taste of the festive dish.

I was more gallant with my second bite, soon and easily forgetting that I should start a proper meal with my white rice.

Vig's mother exitedly handed to me the bowl of chutney.

"Now try it with this!"

My appreciation for the brilliant orange goop has never gone beyond it being consumed with thosai. My gastronomic courage promptly dissipated, exemplified with a slight drop of the jaw. Vig's eyes scintillated with encouragement.

I nervously took a teaspoon of chutney and spread it thinly over the brown rice, before bringing the new combined source of intimidation to my quivering lips.

Cold coconut fragments butchered the rice. Dried chili invaded the brown sugar. Ginger ambushed the raisins. Onion mugged the milk. A cultural riot exploded in my mouth.

Then I tasted gridlocks, negotiations, formal re-introductions. All eyes were on me. My tongue swirled in bewilderment...

And then I asked for more.

Vig winked, his girlfriend laughed, and his mother welcomed a new addition to her family.

Happy Deepa-Raya, everyone.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Getting Hitched

In one of the final weeks of the Broken Bridges rehearsal, Douglas Lim approached me to do a corporate video which he was putting together for Nielsen Media Research (sister company of ACNielsen). With his mates Rashid Salleh and Gavin Yap also roped in, he was planning to shoot within the week right after our musical's run.

Taking the mickey out of the film Hitch, the video would focus on simpleton Adam (Rashid) trying to win the heart of Julie (me) who seems to be a bit too out of his league. This is until corporate-savvy savior Nielsen (Gavin) comes to save him from the pits of humiliation with his wealth of information about what makes a girl like Julie tick. The half-hour presentation, aptly titled Get Hitched, would be shot in two days; my role was minor enough for me to only be needed on the first.

My call time was 6.30am, the earliest out of the three actors. Gavin however, being the darling he is, disregarded his 11am call time and picked me up before sunrise. Even Rashid was already there by the time we arrived at the venue.

We shot at the prolific production house, Popiah Pictures - a bungalow office cum studio in the heart of town. Their current hit TV series is Realiti, a drama set in a Malaysian Idol-esque atmosphere. I've worked on a few small projects with the folks at Popiah a couple of years ago, and I'm pleasantly surprised that they still remember me.

My makeup and hair is done, and my solo scenes are the first to be shot. Waking up earlier than the alarm, I'm not too acquainted with the wee hours of the morning yet. The scenes are thankfully short enough for me to stay on the ball. I'm finding it hard to rub the sleep out of my eyes, though. Hopefully my fatigue doesn't show up on camera.

Douglas runs through the schedule

All of Julie's interation is with Adam alone. I suspect that one of the first scenes I shoot with Rashid is strategically scheduled to wake me up good and proper.

Adam compassionately offering Julie some medication for her headache...

...which, unbeknownst to him, was caused by his romantic kompang composition.


Douglas directs, Ping & Kim from Popiah & Gavin look on

Audrey & Shan Shan from Nielsen Media Research, the former of which helped a great deal in taking the shots posted in this entry.

Gavin, when suited up, appears criminally distinguished. He lends me his spare shirt to keep me from contracting frostbite in the studio.

Preparing for the next scene

The boys going through their lines. A couple of run-throughs and they're set, compared to me who has to study the script like I'll be graded on it, and still flub whatever minimal lines I have.

I *had* to take a picture of the make-up artist, Ashley. She was adorable enough for me to want to tie a bell in her hair and attach her to my cellphone.

Getting ready for the scene where Adam lays his eyes on Julie for the first time.

Shan Shan makes her acting debut as café lady...

... from whom Julie purchases a bottle of water and the day's papers.

Adam is mesmerized, and Julie turns to smile at him.

The oldest trick in the business never loses its effectiveness.

Adam's 'kiss whistle' attracts the wrong kind of attention in the form of an effeminate, dreadlocked Douglas. The bottom half of the picture has been cropped at my discretion...

although I do think his legs deserve some positive form of recognition.

Nielsen lays down the facts...

...but not without proving his credibility.

Watching the action from the monitor screen is quite cool.

Adam picks up the courage to make his first move on me.

Working with Rashid when he kicks into comedian mode requires a ridiculous amount of concentration. Halfway through this scene, I spaced out of my character and almost burst out laughing when I realized that the guy next to me was being an absolute freak.

Despite a few technical hiccups throughout the day, we managed to wrap up the day's shoot on time. The guys had to rush off right after to KLPac and do a small role reversal: Gavin directs Rashid and Douglas in their upcoming horror-themed theatre production, Frankenstein In Love.

I was extremely nervous at the thought of working with Douglas and his posse, who can all be considered veterans in their own right. But they kept me as comfortable as I could be on set with their patience and encouragement, and it helped that their chemistry as both friends and colleagues kept the air casually constructive.

Douglas told me that the screening of the video was shown to over 300 members of the media a few weeks ago. The event was such a resounding success that the clients would like to take us all out for drinks soon. I'm looking forward to it - watching the boys rile each other up is always wholesome entertainment.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tidbits on S'kali

Honestly, what I thought of my own movie? Seeing it six times in total doesn't make it any easier for me to answer that question. But I'll see what I can come up with, despite the likelihood of digressing.

The cast knew that the film was very performance-driven, and that we had to give it our all to keep the script afloat. That being said, it was an absolute joy watching Derek, Jayaram, Angeline and Zimy in their element. Each of them have their own set of idiosyncrasies and method of execution which I love looking out for on screen. If they'd ever consider acting as a career, then I'm quite certain they'd go very far indeed.

My most anticipated scene was the infamous one featuring Jason Lo. I always laughed out loud at the comedic timing and character interaction. "David Bahawi"? Pure genius.

I can't lie and say I'm over the moon about the censorship of two otherwise lovely scenes. I put a lot of effort into it as an actor, and I feel they turned out really well. To not get any closure by not being able to watch the fruits of my labor is anti-climatic to say the least. Not that there was any full-on making out that was shot anyway. Does a remotely intimate scene from Malaysian film make deem it more likely to corrupt the minds of the local innocents? I just saw a Hollywood flick yesterday that featured a long, passionate, uncensored snog. Go figure.

The fight scene is agonizing to watch even long after I detach myself from the scene. At the time, I drew frustration and sadness from the sudden demise of my dog, which happened just the week before. After that, the emotions took on a life of their own. We did the scene in two takes - one from outside the car, the second one shot inside. What was selected for majority of the scene was the first take, and I'm surprised at how Jayaram and I managed to pull it off. It is one scene that I always watch with a half-eyed grimace. Both Jayaram and I had never screamed like that at anyone else in our lives before, and it scared us s***less. Anger is never a pleasant place to visit.

Yasmin Ahmad's scene was the last one shot for the film. Even though I was not involved, I made a special request to tag along and watch from behind the camera. Awaiting her arrival, eyeing every incoming white car from the rooftop and expecting it to be her... the buzz amidst the crew was pure madness. And when she finally made her arrival, it was like magic. She brings with her an amazing air of warmth and regality. She also happens to read people like books. (I hardly spoke to anyone on set at the time, and she made comments to the filmmakers about me that were so spot on, I could easily accuse her of espionage.) Both Jason Lo and Yasmin's scenes were two of very few that strayed quite far from the original script, and consequently both scenes turned out very nicely in terms of flow and spontaniety.

With Yasmin & Jayaram

I loved the soundtrack, very acoustic-driven. Gave it a down-to-earth urban feel.

In terms of scriptwriting, direction and technical aspects, I have no expertise and therefore limited rights to having a credible say, but I think the critics have been fair enough in offering constructive opinion.


Think Online


Malay Mail

Friends have asked what's next in the pipeline for me. There's the 2-week rehearsal and one-weekend staging of Broken Bridges the Musical in Ipoh next month, but unfortunately the plans to re-stage the production at KLPac in December have recently been called off. So after Ipoh, I'd probably just take a breather til the end of the year. There has been proposal and brief discussion of projects in 2007 that would keep me overtly occupied on top of my full-time job again. But talk being talk, I'd rather stay mum and keep my fingers crossed for now.

I hope I'll carry forward what I've learnt from this production to perform better in future stints. To everyone who came to watch S'kali, again I express my immense gratitute. For those who didn't get the chance, look out for the DVD that's coming out soon.

Friday, October 06, 2006

When your university is a four-letter word

-----Original Message-----
From: [name of branding executive] []
Sent: Thursday, October 05, 2006 2:55 PM
To: [Jayaram's email]; [Tard's email]
Subject: [name of uni] Video session

Hi Jayaram and Davina Goh,

We are pleased to inform you that [name of uni] will be hosting a video-shoot session and would like to invite you to come for this session. We wish to introduce our achievers in this videoshoot, as our effort to show our appreciation to [name of uni] achievers. This interactive-cd will be featured at our roadshows & formal functions for other public students.We will be organizing this video-session within mid week - of October 2006 but the dates and time are not yet confirm.

Do email me back to express your interest, hopefully before end of this week & we will get back to you once the dates of the session is firmed.

Hope to hear from you soon. Have a wonderful day!

Best regards,
[name of branding executive]

-----Original Message-----
From: Davina Goh []
Sent: Thursday, October 05, 2006 5:26 PM
To: [name of branding executive]
Cc: [Jayaram's email]
Subject: RE: [name of uni] Video session

Hello [name of branding executive],

Thanks very much for your invitation. I however regret to inform you that I shall be turning down the offer due to negative past experiences I have had with [name of uni].

My CGPA was severely affected by lecturers who let their emotions get in the way of professionalism, after I and several other peers utilised our rights as students and offered constructive advice on their lecturing techniques. I also had to resume my studies after a year of working full-time, as I was not informed by the college that I needed to complete more subjects in order to graduate. The college had done nothing to help alleviate my situation nor offer any compensation for the massive inconvenience - if anything it deflected all blame - but I'm very lucky to have had a boss who was understanding enough to let me continue working part-time while I finished the course.

I have heard countless other stories from my friends in the same program, whom have been held back in similar cases that highlight the appalling discrepancies in [name of uni]'s administration. One of them, incidentally and unfortunately enough, includes Jayaram, but that is another story altogether. If you or any other [name of uni] representative is interested in hearing him out I am sure he will be more than happy to share his views.

I have offered my profile generously to [name of uni] through publicity work which I have done for free in the past few years. But I have come to the stage where I feel that if [name of uni] sincerely wants to put in an 'effort to show (its) appreciation to [name of uni] achievers', i.e. ask for more favors from its alumni, then I strongly suggest that it bucks up in the student welfare department first.

I hope this email reaches upper management if only for their kind awareness and future reference.

Thanks for reading, and best wishes for the shoot.

Davina Goh