By AZHARIAH KAMIN
Nur Fazura Sharifuddin has emerged as the Most Promising Actress in the recent 17th Malaysian Film Festival but her first love in another field has yet to blossom.
HER beauty turns heads but it is her charming demeanour and abundant acting talent that get people hankering for more. That is Nur Fazura Sharifuddin who bagged the Most Promising Actress award in the recent 17th Malaysian Film Festival for her role as Noraini in Bicara Hati (Voice of the Heart).
Emerging from relative obscurity to become the hottest new actress on the scene, Nur Fazura, 21, has already earned rave reviews for her effort in Bicara Hati, although, overall, the movie doesn’t make a big impression.
“I’m still in a daze. I never thought that I would win,” said Nur Fazura, when contacted on the telephone last Monday morning, less than two days after she received the award.
“Throughout the night (before the winner was announced), friends were teasing me continuously about winning the award but I never took them seriously. In fact, I brushed it off as absurd. Look at the other contenders: Fasha Sandha is a very good actress and Betty Banafe has more experience in acting.
“I’m very lucky and blessed. I’m very thankful too,” said Fazura who is preparing for her next role as Siti in comedy Senario XX, directed by Aziz M. Osman. The filming is slated to start today.
“Siti’s character will be a bit different compared to my two previous roles. This time I’m playing a simple kampung girl which is a nice change. Besides, I like to try as many characters as I possibly can,” she explained.
“In my two previous movies Bicara Hati and Qaisy & Laila, I played almost similar characters (she plays the titular Laila in the latter). Bicara Hati is a romantic drama while Qaisy & Laila is about war, suffering, loss, giving up and letting go. So when the character Siti in the comedy Senario XX was offered to me, I said ‘yes’ immediately. On top of it, I’d always wanted to work with abang Aziz (M. Osman).”
Next in her busy work schedule is a joint-venture telemovie series with a Pakistani film company in which Fazura will act alongside a famous actor from that country whose name has yet to be announced. The drama series, in English, Malay and Pakistani, will be broadcast in over 70 countries through a satellite TV channel.
To top it all, a couple of days earlier, she had been asked to endorse an international beauty product.
Less than a year go, this bubbly and friendly lass was just another pretty girl-next-door. The world really changed for Fazura after film producer-director Datin Rosnani Jamil gave her her big break.
“I owe it all to Mak Nani for believing in me and giving me the chance to act in Bicara Hati,” said the Pahang-born actress, a former student of SMK Datuk Mahamud Mat in Pekan, Pahang.
Her close friend, deejay Halim Othman of ERA FM, was the one who introduced her to Rosnani.
“It wasn’t an audition. We just had a chat and Mak Nani asked a lot of questions and told me she wanted me in her movie. And of course, I said ‘yes’ at once.”
Although Bicara Hati was her first foray into acting, Fazura’s early experience as the host of Teen’s World on TV2 certainly helped her in front of the camera.
“It wasn’t that difficult because Mak Nani coached me on the script,” recalled Fazura who enrolled at a fashion design college after her SPM only to quit after a few months “because my interest in the course dwindled after a while”.
Her convincing portrayal as Noraini in Bicara Hati prompted Rosnani to recommend her to fellow producer Habsah Hassan who was then looking for an actress for Qaisy & Laila. And Habsah was impressed enough to immediately offer Fazura the lead role in Qaisy & Laila.
“I accepted the offer although shooting was to be done in Quetta, Pakistan,” said Fazura.
It was a worthwhile experience for Fazura although she almost gave up due to the heavy and long shooting schedule, language barrier and general hardship.
She also believed her acting improved a great deal in Qaisy & Laila for which she was coached by Normah Nordin. The movie is about a Malaysian relief team sent to help refugees in war-torn Afghanistan.
The film is directed by Raja Ahmad Alauddin. It is the first Malaysian movie to be shot in Pakistan and Fazura was paired with newcomer Jehan Miskin. “I fell sick twice but luckily my mum was there with me.
“All in all, working for 27 days in Pakistan was very tiring and challenging but it was very good. I have the feeling that the movie is going to be very good. That’s why I went there and I’m glad I did the movie and I’m satisfied with my role in the movie as I know I’ve given my best as Laila.
“Next role? I want to be a bad girl. Perhaps to play a murderer or someone who stole someone else’s husband or something like that. You know, a character that people like to hate. I want to experience all that.
“I’m not scared that people might associate me with so-called bad characters I may play on screen. I think as an actress you should try everything, that is why you are called an actress because you are acting. In life there are so many different characters.
“I just don’t want to be the good girl all the time because I want to know how it is to be the bad one, what the needs of the person are. I want to try that out because I will gain more experience, “ said the 1.65m-tall Fazura who is fluent in English, one of the criteria that helped land her the lead role in Qaisy & Laila.
Although she is very busy with her acting commitments at the moment, her first love is something else.
“My first love is still singing as I used to duet with my late father. He was really good, but only sang in the house. I still remember he bought me a karaoke set when I was 12 and when it was stolen I was very angry,” she said. Her father, a businessman, died in 2000 in a road accident and it was a tribute to his memory that she decided to become a recording artiste.
“I think my life has been influenced a lot by music. My whole family loves music. Yes, I still miss my dad a lot. I thought I couldn’t deal with it (his death). I guess I have his strength. I’m dealing with it okay, I guess. I know he’s there watching and he’s proud of me and I know we will meet again.
“My dad always said that I can sing and probably one day I will be a big star and I said, yeah right,” recalled Fazura fondly.
“One thing I believe now is that my dad believed in me so much – that’s why I keep on going now.” Her interest in music lies in jazz, R&B and hip hop. Asked who her showbusiness idols are, she named Sheila Majid, Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow.
“Would love to break into singing but only when I’ve already established myself in acting,” said Fazura, who prefers to remain single for the time being to concentrate on her flourishing acting career.
Come to think of it, it must be her solid middle-class upbringing that has helped shape her into a refined young woman with exquisite taste in fashion and a strong work ethic. Her self-confidence and determination to excel by giving nothing but her best appears to be the foundation of her success.