“Life in show business is like falling in love, it is full of surprises and you constantly get fucked!”

The lady Executive Producer from India seated in front of me. She was holding two videotapes of my previous work, which a buddy of mine, a very talented composer, Airil sent to them 8 months ago.

After exchanging few greetings, we engaged into more serious conversation,

“Azidi, I like your work very much, but I have to be frank with you, what we are doing here is not your cup of tea”. I just smile, I am so used to this line lately.

“You are recommended by everyone I have known here. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to produce your kind of work, but under the current situation, we have to produce what we can sell….”

When she kept on rephrasing herself, I knew it is time for me to say something.

“Fadzilla, I haven’t been doing anything for a year now. It is very important for me to do whatever there is, beggar cannot be chooser”. I just gave her my best bargaining line. No pride no ego. I want to work and I wanted her to know about it.

“We have 156 episodes of Soap Opera, would you be interested to do it?”. Then she started to open up.

Soap Opera? Nobody would dare to offer that kind of shit to me before. They know I would felt insulted.

“Yes, No problem, would love to”, I said much to her surprise. 

“But it is a combination of outdoor and studio shoot, the studio shoot will be multi camera”, she must had her own doubt about me.

“I am a fast learner”, I have never doubt my ability although for a recognise director, multi camera works might sound as an insult.

“Okay than, how much would you ask?”, by then I know this sort of opportunity will never come in the next one year.

“What’s your budget?” I asked.

“321 ringgit per episode”. I stood up, shook her hand and accept the deal right then without a single complaint. It came to my knowledge later that the two other co-directors had rejected the fee and request for a much higher fee according to the market price. Nevertheless, when I have accepted it, they were left with no other choice but either to accept it or to let it go.

For the next one year, I have made my living surrounded by people that prior to this point of my life, I would consider as bimbos, ‘muka papan’, ‘batang pisang’ etc. I swallowed my pride but honestly, it is an easy task because there is not much pride left in me.

Working in a soap production is a turning point in my career. It prove to be important in years to come as it is a huge production with the involvement of more that 100 creative peoples.

The first thing I did when I cut the deal was to call the finance company and told them that I am surrendering the car immediately. I told my wife that we would not able to continue from where it stops before. We have to start all over again. We remain at my in law’s place while trying to share the household expenses.

When I took the job, my wife was two months into her pregnancy of our second child. We made a promise, which we gladly kept until today that the children will always be, our priority especially in financial matters. During my year long in the soap opera business, I utilised only a third of my remuneration while the rest goes into our saving. We do not have car, we do not have debt, we do not own anything accept for the family that god bless us with.

Once the contract over, we are back to living on our saving, but was fortunate that due to my contacts with those who involved in the soap production, every time our saving was about to run dry, someone would call me and gave me a good project that keep us alive for the next few months until I was offered a lucrative deal as the Head of Creative Department in Ten on Ten Pictures, thanks to my wife’s good friend whom today is a well known senior person in Astro.

During the time at Ten On Ten, we managed to rebuild our live and move forward with it. We rent a place in Menara Duta, a lavish duplex unit in one hell of a good deal. A place which we stayed until I made my move to Kelantan, last year.

The one-year I spent at Ten On Ten was considered by me a payback time. I contacted back those lost friends and try to fix something for them. It was during that period I team up again with Eman Manan, Zaidi Omar, Eddy and those who once played an important role in my career. I used my position to open the door to lots of directors and scriptwriters and bring them back to the industry. A controversial moves which at the end of the day cost me my job.

It is always sad to lose such a lucrative pay but I always consoled myself by saying the pay is not worth the ‘kipas bontot’ attitude which the former CEO of NTV7 and the owner of the station expected from me. Although until today, I would say that I still missed the salary, one thing for sure I wouldn’t miss are the politicking and those entire ass kissers in Encorp, Ten On Ten and NTV7.

When Ten On Ten choose not to renew my contract at the eleventh hour, it actually open the door for me to spent the most happening 3 years of my life in the business and also what I shall describe as the most creative moment for me.

But just as before, all the good things will meet it ends and I never thought when Mahathir step down in 2004, it also marked the darkest period of my life which is worst than anything I have face before that prompted me to leave the film industry once and for all.

(Next, living a Persona-Non-Grata life)