The formidable team wins the latest season of Mentor, writes Dennis Chua
SHY and soft-spoken Puteri Caroline Kamel was named after Princess Caroline, daughter of American actress Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco.
The 20-year-old from Tanah Merah, Kelantan joined TV3’s talent search Mentor 6 early this year to boost her confidence and self-esteem. She was encouraged by her parents, who remarked that her voice was as beautiful as her name.
Rock queen Ella took an instant liking to Caroline and chose her, over more than 300 hopefuls, as her protege for the show.
Caroline, whose trademark long, black hair, head-band and shiny black slacks, proved the most versatile and consistent contestant of this season.
In the weekly live telecasts on TV3 at 9pm from the Shah Alam City Council every Sunday for 10 weeks, Caroline was one of the most cheered contestants.
However, she had a very strong competitor in high-haired Ipoh boy Anas Ridzuan, 23, protege of award-winning singer, songwriter and composer Faizal Tahir. Anas’ fans were initially noisier than Caroline’s and their ostentatious display of wigs resembling his Hafiz Suip-like hairdo, led many viewers to perceive him as the likeliest winner.
Until the ninth and 10th weekly concerts that were the semi-finals, Anas was slightly ahead of Caroline in terms of marks — 50 per cent from judges Datuk Sharifah Aini and Datuk Ramli MS, 20 per cent from a semi-professional jury comprising musicians and performing arts academicians, and the remaining from viewers’ Short Messaging Service (SMS) votes.
But at the end of concert 10, Anas finished third behind veteran entertainer Fauziah Ahmad Daud’s Kedah-born protege Zatul Farahin, 23, and Caroline, who had the highest marks.
This arrangement also proved to be the outcome of Mentor 6 at the end of its grand finals in Stadium Malawati, Shah Alam on June 10.
Caroline scored 71 marks and she and Ella won the top prize of RM100,000 each. Zatul scored 60 marks, and she and Ogy earned RM30,000 each. Anas scored 50 marks and he and Faizal earned RM10,000 each.
The concert, carried live on TV3, opened with a medley of songs by former winning mentors Zainal Abidin (Mentor 1), Amy of Search (Mentor 2), Mas Idayu (Mentor 3), Ziana Zain (Mentor 4) and Erra Fazira (Mentor 5) who sang their hits Manis, Aku, Robek Hatiku, Setia Di Sini and Hanya Di Mata respectively.
The three finalist teams of Ella and Caroline, Ogy and Zatul and Faizal and Anas came next, and sang Rindu, Terukir Di Bintang and Pelita respectively. Each protege had to sing a popular song, a duet with a popular local singer and a new song.
Anas opened the concert with a first-time rendition of Najwa Latif’s Cinta Muka Buku by a male vocalist, and he was impressive.
Faizal roped in a dozen string musicians as well as two drummers to back up Anas, who gave teen singer-songwriter Najwa’s song of puppy love a husky, school boyish twist.
As he danced around on stage having great fun, Anas was soon joined by some 30 fans donning his high hair. They joined him in jumping to the song’s catchy chorus, and this saw the crowd cheering and clapping all the way.
For his next number, Anas, dressed in black, sang his mentor’s self-penned hit Selamat Malam, with Akademi Fantasia 9 champion Hazama Azmi, his fellow Ipoh boy. Both men had the crowd eating out of their hands, as they caressed listeners with their soulful voices.
For his last song, Anas cleverly placed himself in a virtual secondary school photograph with 14 “classmates” wearing his high hair. This song was Faizal’s newly-penned Hanya Dirimu which was composed by Audi Mok and Omar K.
While it did not challenge Anas vocally, he gave an entertaining performance, where every “classmate” walked away from the photo until Anas was the only man left standing in the frame.
Zatul upstaged Anas in all three performances, thanks to Ogy’s acting and producing background.
In all three performances, Zatul played the protagonist in a short play which also starred Amy’s actress daughter Nabila Huda Suhaimi as the antagonist.
Zatul's first song was the Search medley Pawana and Pelesit Kota, which saw her play an innocent woman framed by a hooker played by Nabila. The contest’s dark horse, Zatul, sang with passion and also had great chemistry with Nabila.
Her next song, which depicted her in a jail cell with Ziana, earned a standing ovation. It was a powerful duet with Ziana, comprising Gigi’s Nakal and Dewa 19’s Sedang Ingin Bercinta.
Zatul and Ziana were dubbed the 2 Z team by host Ally Iskandar Mohd Mardzi. The two singers told him they planned to collaborate on a hit song someday.
For her last song, Zatul played a newly-released prisoner, greeted by a repentant Nabila, at the prison gate. This was Tinggalkan Yang Lalu, a bittersweet number written and composed by Manusia Putih.
Caroline’s first song was a medley of My Love by Justin Timberlake and I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing by Aerosmith. She was joined by veteran rock guitarists Joe of Wings and Edrie Hashim, and received a standing ovation.
Caroline then had a superb rock duet version of Datuk Siti Nurhaliza’s Kau Kekasihku with falsetto king Azlan Roslee of Azlan And The Typewriter, which had the audience cheering. She ended the show with Harus Cintamu, written and composed by the show’s vocals instructor Ajai.
Dressed in a long, black dress, she had by now become the clear crowd favourite and ended the competition with a bang.
Before the winner was announced, viewers were entertained by their two favourite hopefuls who did not make it. They were rock singer Shaz Mohamad who sang I Want To Break Free and Najwa Nasir, the star of Gerimis Mengundang and grand daughter of Tan Sri P Ramlee, who sang Kisah Hati.
Judges Sharifah, Ramli, Azmeer and Amy declared Najwa the winner, and remarked that her late grandfather would have been very proud of her. She won RM1,000.
Anas, Caroline, Zatul and the eliminated proteges Tisha Alam, Ana Syuhada Asram and Kadir Jailani Unding Lana joined Zamani and Slam in a medley of their hits Kembali Terjalin, Kembali Merindu and Gerimis Mengundang.
Caroline says: “I was not well and was on medication a day before the concert. I’m so happy to be mentored by Ella who is demanding yet very understanding.”
Ella says: “Caroline always goes the extra mile. She is one in a million.”
“I fell sick too and I’m happy to have done my very best. Competition is very stiff and Caroline and Zatul are really good,” says Anas.
Faizal agrees: “Anas has worked very hard and he can go far. We gave a great fight and that’s what counts.”
Zatul says Ogy always told her to “think positively" and to avoid labels given by commentators.
“Zatul is a very hard worker who exceeds my expectations,” adds Ogy.
Executive producer Muhamad Sufian Isa says viewership and votes cast were slightly down this year, but Caroline, Zatul and Anas have proven to be the strongest competitors in Mentor.
“I could see them in the top three, but each had an equal chance of winning,” he says, adding that Mentor is likely to return next year.
Sharifah says: “We had very strong teams in the finals. Ella and Caroline, Ogy and Zatul, and Faizal and Anas work extremely well together and have set the benchmark high for the next season.”