Big-screen debut for Singaporean Taufik Batisah

Original prankster: Taufik Batisah started the AwakKatMane hashtag as a way to make fun of his own character on television. It eventually inspired him to write the megahit AwakKatMane, a song about a possessive lover.

Taufik Batisah has been a Singapore Idol, a songwriter, a mentor to young singers and a comedy judge. Now, the 33-year-old singer can add movie star to his resume.

He is playing a witch doctor in his big screen debut in Malaysian comedy film Dukun Doktor Dani, set to be released next year.

With the role, the winner of the inaugural Singapore Idol competition in 2004 could well be following in the footsteps of fellow Singaporeans Aaron Aziz and Adi Putra, both of whom have become marquee names in the Malaysian film industry.

Taufik’s film role is a testament to his rising popularity in the lucrative entertainment scene across the Causeway.

Last year, he was one of the judges on popular television comedy competition Maharaja Lawak Mega.

In Dukun Doktor Dani, he plays the titular role, Dr Dani, whom he describes as “an over-thinker who is passionate about his craft and is very much concerned for the well- being of the people around him”. Dukun means witch doctor in Malay.

He adds: “An incident forces him to decide to leave his practice in Kuala Lumpur and move back to his kampung. While he thought the decision would allow him to escape his issues in KL, he ended up having to deal with even more problems back home, pushing him to be a dukun in his kampung.”

While it is his first film role, it is not his first foray into acting. He also played a doctor in local telemovie Demi Adriana, which was aired on MediaCorp’s Malay channel Suria earlier this year. In 2010, he made his stage debut in Dick Lee’s Fried Rice Paradise - The Musical.

Filming Dukun Doktor Dani, which is helmed by Malaysian director Sabri Yunus and stars popular Malaysian actresses Fasha Sandha and Khatijah Tan, was a lot more hectic, though. Taufik spent a month filming in Kuala Lumpur and Pahang.

“For me, acting is something still fairly new, so it’s a lot more challenging than singing,” he says.

The hours were long – filming could take up to 12 hours a day – and there was a lot of waiting around while the crew set up. The heat in Pahang was also “scorching”.

Still, Taufik says he is mulling over several other acting offers, but is tight-lipped about the details as the projects are still in their planning stages.

Music has not taken a backseat, though. He is now focused on helping a new generation of young singers through the second season of The Final 1, a reality singing competition starting on MediaCorp’s Channel 5.

The singer, who is famous for last year’s viral hit #AwakKatMane, reprises his role on the judging panel with Ken Lim, his Hype Records label boss. A third judge, who replaces Mandopop singer Kit Chan from the first season in 2013, will be revealed on Sunday.

“The contestants in this season are a lot younger, with the youngest being 16, and I would say they are of a higher calibre than those in the previous season,” he says.

“In terms of vocal styles and genres, there is also a wider variety this season. It would not be fair to compare them to the Singapore Idol contestants since I was not judging then, but I can say if I were one of the contestants, it would be a tough fight.”

On the home front, Taufik is looking forward to Hari Raya Puasa – his first with his wife Sheena Akbal, 31, whom he married in April.

The New Paper reported last week that he turned down a telemovie role last month to be home with his wife for the fasting month of Ramadan, which started on June 18, the day he was supposed to leave Singapore for filming.

The couple, together with Taufik’s mother, will head to his in-laws’ house in the morning and go to Johor Baru in the evening to visit his father.

“My wife is Pakistani, so this year I’m looking forward to meeting and getting to know my new family and experience the culture. Of course, the feast that awaits at every house is an added bonus.” — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

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