Saturday, July 30, 2005

Mawi di NST

Popular Akademi Fantasia contender Mawi seems to garner more controversy than he can comprehend. SURAYA AL-ATTAS comes to his defence by urging his harsh critics to leave him be.

NOTE to Mawi detractors: Get off his case already! From the time the 24-year-old chap from Kulai, Johor joined Akademi Fantasia he has attracted as many critics as he has supporters. And for what reason? He didn’t ask to be taken back after failing to make the cut in the prelude concert which saw 20 wannabes vying for the 12 spots (which later became 14) in the academy. No doubt Mawi FC was formed soon after the prelude concert, with his staunch supporters “demanding” a place for him in AF but why vilify the boy for something he has no control over?

When Akademi principal M. Nasir announced during the first concert that, instead of eliminating one student, the “dropouts” would have another go at securing two additional places in AF, Mawi — along with his eight mates — was just as stunned to hear this as those who watched the show. For the uninitiated Akademi Fantasia, which is aired over Astro Ria and now is in its third season, is a reality-based talent search programme modelled after Mexico’s La Academia. The stars of the show are a group of youngsters who are groomed to be entertainers by a team of experts in various fields of entertainment for 10 weeks. Life in the academy basically revolves around attending vocal, dance and drama classes. The students have practically no contact with the outside world except on Saturdays when they put up a concert before thousands of people. At the end of each concert, one student — or two on a bad day! — is eliminated. You see the students’ fate lies solely in the hands of their fans. And when we say fans, we don’t mean people who claim to be but don’t care enough to vote. Much as we want to see an all-round entertainer — a person with great vocals, who dances and acts well and with oodles of charm and sparkling wit to boot — to walk home with the Suzuki Swift (which the AF champ will receive, among other things), chances are you won’t get all that in the winner. For the show really has little to do with talent. It’s more of a popularity contest although to be sure this season has more talents than AF1 and AF2 combined. People have to LIKE the students for them to remain in the show. They like, they vote. It’s as simple as that. Otherwise, how would you explain Idayu’s unceremonious exit when she was one of the best singers in the academy? Now back to Mawi. So he’s been consistently on top of the popularity chart since he joined but did he put himself there?
What prompted this article were the comments made by Assoc Prof Dr Baharuddin Aziz, of UiTM, who was one of the guests on talkshow Tanya Linda (Astro Ria) on Tuesday. The topic was Fenomena Tsumawi — Apa Pro dan Kontranya? (The Tsumawi Phenomenon — Its Pros and Cons. Incidentally “tsumawi” was a term coined by AF host Aznil Nawawi). Armed with a stack of research papers, Baharuddin dismissed Mawi as untalented and unworthy of all the attention he’s getting. Missing the point completely, he kept harping on the fact that Mawi, unlike the late Tan Sri P. Ramlee (yep, he actually tried to compare the boy with the legend!), doesn’t play any musical instruments and practically has nothing to offer. To which another guest, composer Iman Wan, coolly replied: “Jamal Abdillah is a great singer and he, too, doesn’t play any musical instruments too.” Sadly Baharuddin is just one of the thousands out there who just doesn’t get it. Either you see it or you don’t. Or you see but refuse to acknowledge it. The kind of madness surrounding Mawi doesn’t happen every day or to just anybody, especially not in our entertainment industry. Even Mawi himself is probably trying hard to understand how he came to be where he is today. There’s something very special and magical about him that nobody can explain. It’s just there. So what are you going to do about it? I mean, the boy not only has thousands of fans before he even goes out into the real world but also an entire magazine dedicated to him! Why, even Siti Nurhaliza didn’t have it this good! As Iman, who auditioned Mawi in Johor, put it: “If you ask me what Mawi has that nobody else in AF has, I can’t give you the answer. But if you tell me, he doesn’t have talent, that he can’t sing, it’s not true. I wouldn’t have given him the green card (to indicate he’s through to the next round) if he can’t sing.” Granted what Mawi needs post-AF to succeed in showbiz is proper guidance, not blind obsession. So to the likes of Baharuddin out there: Give him a break. He doesn’t deserve the flak he’s been getting. Don’t punish him for something he’s innocent of.

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