Friday, October 23, 2009

Entertainment: Astro’s Merdeka high



Three Astro hosts share their thoughts on Merdeka. BIBI NURSHUHADA RAMLI writes.

THE moment Sushmeetha Morugan, Reza Mohamed and Danny Koo Kar Lin stepped into the New Straits Times Press studio, it was obvious that they’ve been great friends for years.

There was no awkwardness or unease during the interview and photoshoot. Instead, there were gales of laughter.

The three, who boast a strong chemistry, are hosts for Astro TV shows Vizhutugal, Kelab Pop and Motosikal Balik Kampung respectively.

Brought up on different beliefs, Sushmeetha, Reza and Danny have their own perceptions of Merdeka.

In April 2007, Sushmeetha, previously host of Astro Vaanavil’s Numerology in 2006, turned host of Vizhuthugal, a 60-minute morning talkshow on Astro’s Channel 201, with the show airing at 10am, Mondays to Fridays.

Well-known as the DJ for ERA radio station, Akademi Fantasia graduate Reza is the host of Kelab Pop, an Astro Ria game show that features two celebrity teams competing on popular music and culture.

Danny Koo, third runner-up in the Astro Star Quest 2008, a singing competition on Astro AEC (Channel 301), has starred in a local TV drama.

His first hosting job was for the second season of Motosikal, a light travel and adventure documentary series which has Danny at many destinations, backpacker-style, on a motorcycle.

Brought up on different beliefs, Sushmeetha, Reza and Danny have their own perceptions of Merdeka.

For Sushmeetha, dedication is most important. “Rather than ask what Malaysia has done for us, we should ask what we have done for our country,” she suggested, following what the late United States president John F. Kennedy’s rallying call to Americans in the Sixties.

Reza said that for those who had lived before Independence, Merdeka meant freedom from colonialism.

“For us who were born after Merdeka, Independence Day is to be free from problems or anything that can lead to our downfall,” he added.

“Getting a day off from work is considered Merdeka for me, as I get to liberate myself from the hustle and bustle of my daily routine.”

Danny’s definition of Merdeka is also freedom. “With Independence, we are free to do what we want as we are no longer bound by foreign rulers anymore. National Day has also brought Malaysians closer.”

Merdeka was never a big issue to Danny, not until he took up history in school, that is.

“That was when I learnt about Tunku Abdul Rahman and what he had done for us. It really opened my eyes.”

Celebrating National Day in their younger days was unforgettable for these tv personalities.

Sushmeetha, who is from Tapah, said that when she was a child, the town folk would have their own small Merdeka festivity at the local field. “My family and I never missed a celebration.”

For this young woman, another fond childhood memory of National Day is Merdeka candy. “You know, the one where the Malaysian flag has colourful candy inside see-through plastic? It is sold every year only in August.

“Even though we didn’t know the meaning of the celebration then, we would fight for the candy and end up carrying it.”

Her parents and grandmother have shared with her valuable stories that she can learn from.

“These stories should be shared with the generations after us so that they are not lost over time.”

Danny stated proudly that he had never missed watching the countdown on TV. He also loved to watch the parade aired live from Stadium Merdeka on National Day morning.

A member of the Scouts movement in both primary and secondary schools, he had the honour of representing his school each year for the parade.

In Vizhuthugal’s Merdeka Special, which runs for two weeks, starting yesterday, Sushmeetha will talk about Merdeka-related topics.

Each day a guest will share their thoughts on National Day.

On Kelab Pop Merdeka, the contestants will be Akademi Fantasia graduates Ika Nabila, Naim, Nubhan, Yana, Alif and Tasha.

Reza is also one of the hosts of ERA TV Merdeka, which will air this Thursday at 10.30pm on Astro Ria, alongside other ERA radio announcers Aznil, Din Beramboi, Adi, Burn, Dina, Nana and Ray.

“Guests such as Datuk Siti Nurhaliza, Hafiz AF7, Stacey AF6 and Singaporean Aliff Aziz, will be asked what they think of Merdeka,” said Reza.

Motosikal Balik Kampung will premiere with a guest in every episode going backpack travelling, exploring alternative routes to their destinations.

“We take a longer route to enjoy the scenery and meet new people along the way,” added Danny.

Each episode is based on a guest’s hobby. Local delicacies, traditional handicraft games and kampung culture will also be featured.

NOTE: Vizhuthugal airs every Monday to Friday (10am) on Astro Vaanavil, Kelab Pop Merdeka will air on Aug 31 (9.30pm) on Astro Ria and Motosikal Balik Kampung premieres on Sept 6, airing every Sunday (8.30pm) on Astro AEC.

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