Friday March 4, 2005
Puteri is a hit comedy seriesBy AZHARIAH KAMIN
When Puteri made its debut on TV3, few people tuned in as many perceived locally-produced comedy series to be mediocre fare. At that time, the series was at the ninth placing based on a viewership survey conducted by Nielsen Media Research.
But that changed in the following week as Puteri moved up to second placing and has since been enjoying one of the top three positions, with a weekly average of 2.7 million viewers.
THORN AMONG THE ROSES: Mohd Aszerul Nizam Abdullah is flanked by (from left) Nora Danish Hanif, Kancana Devi and Siti Fazurina Mohd Famir.
What makes this half-hour comedy series work?
There could be many reasons. Among them is that the series’ director is the award-winning Aziz M. Osman, who is known for producing movies with high box office collections.
Also, a simple storyline that revolves around three factory girls, the ups and downs they face and their love lives, is something viewers can relate to.
And adding more appeal to Puteri is the cast of fresh faces comprising Nora Danish Hanif, Kancana Devi and Siti Fazurina Mohd Famir who play factory girls Puteri Farah, Kamala and Anita, respectively.
Aziz also had veteran artistes such as comedian-actor-director A.R. Badul and Louisa Chong to play Pak Badar and wife Lilian, who are the girls’ landlords.
To spice up Puteri further, Beego of vocal group Phyne Ballerz, whose real name is Mohd Aszerul Nizam Abdullah, was roped in to play Roslan, Pak Badar’s new driver. He is also the love interest of Puteri Farah and Anita.
Aziz’s success formula
In a telephone interview, Aziz revealed that the response to Puteri had taken him by surprise.
“Apart from programmes such as Buletin Utama, Cerekarama (both on TV3) and TV2’s Sembilu, local shows find it difficult to stay on top in the weekly ratings. I guess what makes Puteri interesting is that viewers can relate to the characters.
“Basically, Puteri continues the trend of my previous works. But I try to create a difference by casting fresh faces to play the leads,” said the 43-year-old director.
Puteri is loosely based on his box office successes Puteri Impian (1997) and Puteri Impian 2 (2002) starring Amy Mastura.
To make Puteri appear different from his movies, he used more fast-paced editing.
“I guess I should thank my teenage daughters who enjoy watching Lizzie McGuire, That’s So Raven and shows on the Nickelodeon channel.
“I came up with young characters but the series is still very much based on Malaysian values and lifestyles,” said Aziz who also penned the script.
Introducing the cast
One of the most striking things about Puteri is 23-year-old model-turned-actress Nora.
Most would remember her in commercials like Maxis Hotlink a couple of years ago.
Aziz M. Osman: ‘I guess what makes Puteri interesting is that viewers can relate to thecharacters.’
Nora is a relative newcomer to movies; her first was Gila-Gila Pengantin Popular (directed by Aziz) in which she played a supporting role. The movie was shot last year but has not been released yet.
Aziz said he picked Nora as he wanted a fresh face who could portray her role effectively.
For Nora, working with Aziz in a drama series was a dream come true.
“I’ve admired Abang Aziz’s works as long as I can remember and I’m very lucky to be able to work with him. I was a bit apprehensive initially and wondering whether I could carry my role in Puteri well since the only acting I’ve done so far was Gila-Gila Pengantin Remaja,” said Nora during a recent press conference.
After reading the script, Nora decided to give it a go and found that her character in Puteri was close to her heart.
Working alongside veterans such as Badul and Chong plus getting guidance from Aziz gave the soft-spoken actress a boost.
“Initially, it was a bit awkward to act alongside Beego as both our characters have feelings for each other that are not meant to be obvious,” said Nora.
Beego, 24, credited the show’s success to a great script, Aziz’s directing talent and the cast’s commitment.
Beego was initially quite doubtful about his acting skills but positive feedback from viewers has spurred him to pursue a career in acting.
For Kancana Devi, being cast as a strait-laced Indian girl Kamala was a surprise to her. All she did was submit her resume to Aziz’s production company and before long, she was cast in Puteri.
“Playing Kamala wasn’t difficult. The character is kind of naive,” said Kancana who declined to reveal her age.
Playing the busybody Anita was a fun experience for 22-year-old Siti. She was discovered by Aziz who cast her in a supporting role in Senario XX. The movie was completed last year but has yet to be released in cinemas.
Chong said she enjoyed every minute of filming the series even though it was stressful at times.
“It was interesting playing Lilian who has a stingy husband. And I think A.R. Badul played his Pak Badar character very well.
“Another thing is that the young actors in Puteri were very respectful of the veterans. They were also fully committed during filming,” said 49-year-old Chong who is busy preparing for her role in Istana Budaya’s Puteri Hang Li Po, scheduled to be staged in Terengganu from March 25 to 27.
For Badul, his job went beyond acting as he also contributed to the scripts of several of the episodes.
The cast and crew of Puteri are now busy filming the series’ second season in the Klang Valley and Johor.
“All I can say is that the first season will end with a cliff-hanger and viewers will have to wait for the new season to air to find out what happens to the relationship between Roslan and Puteri Farah.
Meanwhile, Aziz would like to slow down a bit. “I cannot be too prolific, right?” he quipped, adding that he is a die-hard comedy fan. “Producing and directing comedy is not a problem for me. It is my speciality as I like to see things in a lighter vein. And Puteri is about looking at ourselves, seeing things that we can relate to.” Puteri is currently aired on TV3 every Wednesday at 10pm.