Saturday, 17 November 2007

tribute to hani mohsin

this was an article i wrote for the star paper, a few days after Hani Mohsin left this world so suddenly. i thought it would be something i would like to have in my blog for the record and as something that my daughter Mila can look back upon when she grows up, also
hopefully something that will make us think about friendships, relationships, partnerships and marriage in a different light.

The Star Online

Sunday July 30, 2006

A gentleman of fine breeding


“I sing to him that rests below,

And, since the grasses round me wave,

I take the grasses of the grave,

And make them pipes whereon to blow ...”

From Alfred Lord Tennison’s poem

‘In Memoriam A.H.H.’

IHAVE lost a friend. Life has stolen from us a kind soul, a noble man, a wonderful father, a faithful friend.

Hani Mohsin was a gentleman of fine breeding: One of the few good men I have had the opportunity to have crossed paths with in my life’s journey. Those who knew him remember him for his big smile, his sense of humour, the graceful way in which he always conducted himself, his humble manner, his tenacity, discipline and dedication to his work.

He valued friendships and went out of his way to build and nurture them. It’s no wonder that more than 2,000 people were there to pay their last respects on the day of his final journey. Some of us may never even meet that many people in an entire lifetime!

I am sure his loved ones who gathered at his home that day, and for the next three nights following that, will bear witness to his warmth and sincerity as a friend. He was always happy to lend a helping hand, always ready to lend a sympathetic ear. Always ready to provide cheer to a friend who is feeling down.

I am fortunate to have had him pass through and touch my life once upon a time. Five years together gave us a beautiful girl named Hani Karmila in commemoration of that union.

Our life together was not to be, and my life’s path changed; I began a new journey with another wonderful and kind-hearted man. Still, Mohsin and I always remained close, for Mila’s sake especially, and we constantly discussed matters of parenting and bringing little Mila up.

I see so much in Mila that reminds me of Mohsin. Her cheekbones you could never mistake to be his, as well as her slim long limbs and height. But more than just the physical is his perceptive mind, his resourcefulness and inner strength.

As an actor, he would always go the extra mile to give life and colour to every role he undertook. He shaved his head to play the role of a Buddhist monk in John Boorman’s Beyond Rangoon, playing opposite Frances McDormand and Patricia Arquette. When he played the title role in Erma Fatima’s film Jimmy Asmara, he totally immersed himself in the style and carriage of a star in the 1950s. The role was closest to his heart too, being a fan of everything from music to antiques to dressing from the 50s and 60s.

I remember him as a problem-fixer who would always go the extra mile on every project he undertook, especially when he was producing. He strove for perfection every time and would never be happy with mediocrity. And Mohsin was a hands-on producer who would get “down and dirty” to make sure everything ran smoothly.

He was always ready to fix any sort of production challenges that would arise, with gloves on – a last-minute prop required, a technical problem that needed fixing – and he would attend every single post-production session and work with directors on shot selection.

What Mila enjoyed most about spending her days at her Ayah’s place was all the activities they would get up to together, like gardening, painting walls, re-decorating, and woodcraft. Mohsin was a house-proud man who managed all his housework, cooking, cleaning and decorating on his own, without even the help of a maid.

Many who went to pay their last respects couldn’t believe that the house, which was in immaculate condition and so organised, was managed single-handedly by a bachelor!

Mila loved her father’s cooking too. They shared the same taste for real kampung style Malay cooking. He made really simple but yummy dishes like sambal tumis, roasted eggplant with sambal, a variety of northern style curries, and ayam masak merah.

Mila was the light of Mohsin’s life, especially after the demise of his beloved mother two years ago. His father passed away in 1994 and Mohsin was an only child. It was really a heart-breaking sight for me to have watched him bury his father, and then his mother, only to be there again under even more tragic circumstances.

Mila has always been showered with love and attention from both sides of her families and always liked to think of Mohsin, (Datuk Seri Mohd) Effendi (Norwawi), her little brother Eridani and me as one big happy family.

She would happily tell people that she was luckier than other kids because she had two fathers, one called “Daddy” and the other “Ayah”. Even Dani has only ever known him as “Ayah”.

The four of us shared many celebrations together as a family, from birthdays to school productions to school awards ceremonies, the last one of which was on July 12, when Mila received the Russell Arts award for achievement in Art. That was one of the proudest moments for all of us.

A memory I can never erase is a surprise birthday celebration Mila single-handedly organised for her father when he turned 41 on June 18 this year. We had discussed buying a plain round cake, and for Mila to decorate it herself. We set out to buy coloured icing and little trimmings to decorate a pretty little cake, but my little Picasso had ideas of her own. She said she would do it herself and surprise us all.

She had, on her own, created the Roda Impian (Wheel Of Fortune), the daily game show for which Mohsin had lately been most famous for hosting. She even organised for Effendi, Dani and me, along with our house staff, to surprise him on his birthday by turning up with this beautiful cake in her hands! It brought tears of joy to his eyes and this will be the last of our beautiful memories together.

(LAST BIRTHDAY: Mohsin blowing out the candles on his cake with Mila and Dani. Mila singlehandedly organised the private bash which was also attended by Tiara and Effendi.)

Effendi always described him as “Such a decent man. Always conducting himself so elegantly, so classily. You can’t help but like the guy.”

Mohsin and I remained good friends and working colleagues, and today we still share two floors of office space at Ampang Point. Rehearsals for our upcoming August run of Puteri Gunung Ledang The Musical were even held there, so we would always bump into each other and discuss work as well as when he could make time to be with Mila next.

As a fellow actor and producer, he was always so supportive of my career, cheering me on and giving me encouragement whenever my spirit waned. He would text-message words of encouragement or praise whenever he watched me on stage or on TV.

He used to tell me, “Don’t give up the fight ? no one else in this industry can come close to making the changes that you can. You really need to just shut your ears to the naysayers and break through that brick wall. Nobody recognises us for doing what we do, but we’re not doing this for any kind of applause anyway ?”

On July 17, 2003, well-deserved recognition did come his way anyway, when he was bestowed the PMP (Pingat Mahkota Perlis) from the Yang Dipertuan Agong for his years of excellence in the industry. (Mohsin passed away on July 25.)

Today, the Arts has lost one of its finest. Today, there is one less star that shines among the few that glimmer in our skies. Today, the Arts has lost a friend.

May he rest in peace amongst the souls of the blessed. Al-fatihah.

# Tiara Jacquelina, best known as the producer and lead actress of ‘Puteri Gunung Ledang’, the movie and stage musical, was married for five years to the late Hani Mohsin in 1993. She is now the wife of Datuk Seri Effendi Norwawi, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department.

mont blanc's "the power to write" campaign

I was recently asked to partner with Mont Blanc in their campaign to help fight illiteracy, by putting my signature on a limited edition pen that would be sold for charity. There are 2 Malaysians given this honor, Tun Mahathir and myself. I have been asked to pen an essay on the campaign and what it means for me to be involved, so i edited parts of my speech on that day and stringed it together in an essay, and thought i might share it in my blog for the record.

I've traveled the world twice over,
Met the famous; saints and sinners,
Poets and artists, kings and queens,
Old stars and hopeful beginners,
I've been where no-one's been before,
Learned secrets from writers and cooks
All with one library ticket
To the wonderful world of books.
~ Anonymous ~

When I was approached by Montblanc to partner in their “Power to Write” Campaign, I found it to be a tremendous opportunity to support this noble effort to reduce global illiteracy, through UNICEF. Not only is it an opportunity to contribute, we are also given a chance to reflect and appreciate our ability to read and write, which I find is a gift many of us take for granted.

The battle against illiteracy is long, and the amount of work is overwhelming. My heart goes out to the 115 million children of the world who may never share the joy of reading and writing, unless we who have such privilege, can make that difference and give them new hope. I believe that with many baby steps, it only marks the beginning of that jouney of a thousand miles; and along that journey we could touch and change the lives of so many in a way that cannot be imagined.

Why literacy? Being passionate for the arts from an early age, it was natural for me to come behind this campaign against illiteracy. As an actress and a producer, the culture of reading and writing was the very foundation of my career and progress. I have always enjoyed the emotional and visual journey that is conjured by the written word, be it poetry, prose, song or in the many scripts I read each day. My mastering of the written and spoken word, coupled with a creative eye and some knowledge of numbers and the art of marketing, is an integral tool in my work as a creative producer. I am one to believe that the pen is surely mightier than the sword.

Although my co-operation with Montblanc has gone a long way back, this campaign is a fresh new experience for me, certainly one close to my heart. The opportunity to work with UNICEF to help provide the gift of literacy to underprivileged children can empower children to read, write and therefore to think. Through education, those who are not fortunate enough can now gain access to this very basic necessity. The gift of literacy means a chance to touch lives, and change destinies; destinies of individuals, of families, and of nations.

Indeed, this campaign reaffirmed to me Montblanc’s loyalty to the culture of writing and reading, and struck a very strong chord with me. We know that literacy and education is the most effective equalizer today for the under-privileged. Hopefully, together with Montblanc, we will be able to make a difference in achieving this.

My final message today for all readers is to pause to think about how reading and writing has revolutionalized our lives – it is really like losing a limb to live without this skill. Indeed, I would like to invite you all to join Montblanc and UNICEF, in our efforts to provide basic education for our children today, in order to nurture the readers, writers and thinkers of tomorrow.

When I look back, I am so impressed again
with the life-giving power of literature.
If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of
myself in the world, I would do that again by reading,
just as I did when I was young.
~ Maya Angelou ~

By Tiara Jacquelina.

Tiara Jacquelina’s signature will be engraved on the Montblanc Meisterst├╝ck Fountain Pen 149 and for every one of these pens sold during the period until 31 December 2007, Montblanc will donate USD 149 to UNICEF. For further enquiries, kindly contact Ms Cesarine Lim at the Mont Blanc KLCC store, 0321662886

Saturday, 3 November 2007

i love my job...

i'm glad i have a blog now. especially since p.ramlee opened, i find myself still buzzing from the adrenalin of watching the show again and again each night, still unable to switch off even past 2 am like NOW. i must say i'm the biggest fan of the show myself. i'm glad i have the chance to be in the audience this time around and just enjoy being entertained for a change instead of working it on stage, its quite a different experience. i'm glad though that now, FINALLY, in our 3rd last performance for the season, i can put my nightly notes to rest. otherwise i can't sit through a show and not be typing notes for actors, notes to zahim, pat, erwin, from my seat in the audience, to give them the next evening during briefing and sound-checks. FINALLY, the actors don't have me look for them backstage just to have me whip out my now infamous bling phone that carries notes for each of them. its so funny, whenever any of them see me approaching them and i go "ha!" they know that next thing that will happen is out comes my phone and out come the notes. bless these kids.

its part of the magical organic process i enjoy in theatre really. if something doesnt work, we can either remove it, or edit the text, or re-work the scene till it works. when something is working, we let the audience savour the moment. with film unfortunately, what you see on the big screen is what you get... it costs an arm and a leg to edit anything and have to go through the final mix process etc again...God forbid!

i sit through the show each night and allow myself to get soaked up in the show completely now. i look forward to the opening titles, cos the crowd response at that point tells me whether or not we have a "fun" crowd in the house that evening. then i look forward to the train sequence, which i think is malek's ultimate magic trick so far, i look forward to the scene where junaidah (atilia), ida, izlyn, zeqhty and maya swoon over p.ramlee...such an adorable "girlie" moment, that. then i look forward to the cutie pie infinatez and azrul in their paparazzi sequences. then, my faaaavorite scene in all of act 1 - the wedding of junaidah and ramlee! that just kills me. i love the look on sean's face when he turns his face and next thing he knows he's looking at the kadi! sean is ace in that scene, to me. what caps act 1 for me is sean's "hujan di tengahari" especially when he does the 1-octave-higher thing.

in act 2, i look forward to the norizan-ramlee showdown.melissa really blows me (and everyone else apparently) with her powerhouse acting in that scene. hats off to you, babe. thats a killer role and you nailed it no sweat. i thnk i wanna try "get outta my way!" one of these days, just for the thrill.. hee hee. after that, the moment saloma appears, its magic all the way to the end of the show. liza hanim has to be the most under-rated actress/singer ever. i've never really been a fan of any local singer's voice, but i must say liza's just mesmerises me, unfailingly, day after day, without fail. and the "gelora" scene is my absolutelutelute favorite of the entire show. the courtship and wedding proposal brings tears to my eyes everytime. and by the end of the show when seam sings "airmata di kuala lumpur" i'm a wreck.

i love my job.