#Showbiz: Original treats from sooka

THE dramatic and comedic trials and tribulations of a family are at the centre of sooka's first Originals series, Love In Lockdown.

Among the main cast in the new light-hearted series are Siti Saleha, Julia Farhana Marin, Shah Iskandar, Sara Mack Lubis and Bella Rahim.

It follows the personal stories and familial adversities, as well as their eventual triumphs in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic that everyone can relate to.


Director Mai Fernandez says the series is adapted from real experiences and stories.

"We looked at social media trends during the lockdowns to bring in new things. All the writers chipped in their own stories.

"A lot of real experiences in my life were put into the project as well. I went to medical school, my sister is a dancer and I was a travel influencer at one point too, so it all fit in with the characters," she says in a virtual interview.

She adds Malaysians will certainly be able to relate to the show, which focuses on the positive aspects of things in the end.

"My main reason in doing this was that I just wanted to put something positive out there.

"At the time of the actual lockdown, there were a lot of depressing news and it was difficult to get through. So the focus here is on the nice and good takeaways from the lockdown.

"But even in the worst circumstances there's a silver lining. At the same time, during the lockdown, I got closer to my neighbours, my friends and family, and we injected this into the series as well.

"Some relationships grow, others breakup, but the characters are the stronger for it," she says.



In the series, Siti Saleha takes on her first role as a doctor and overworked frontliner.

"I wanted to try something different and the role comes with lots of drama, it's realistic but not depressing," she says.

Playing the eldest sister Suzanna, who is also a mother and wife, she adds Suzanna has kind of lost herself amidst the spiritual and emotional hardships endured during the pandemic.

"She's very strong-willed, hardworking and wants to do everything well, but hits rock bottom at one point but that's life," says the actress who watched Grey's Anatomy to get some inspiration.

Shah Iskandar who plays Suzanna's husband Nizam says the character is adamant to make things work between the couple, who are facing trying times.

"He's that brittle bridge that's still going strong. Our onscreen son is the next step to making things better.

"He's got issues with his father-in-law and lots of problems around him, but he makes sure that everything works regardless of how sad he's feeling. He's like the light at the end of the tunnel," he says.

Julia Farhana Marin who plays middle sister Kara is a dancer in a long distance relationship with a German boyfriend.

"I was really worried about playing a dancer since my character has a major dance performance, but the production team enrolled me in dance classes with Suhaili Micheline.

"I actually learnt something new through this character. I learnt to connect with my body," she says.

Julia adds Kara is troubled and worried about her international career since the lockdown has put a stop to travel.

"There's also a love triangle going on, so there are many ups and downs from the beginning to the end of the series.

"It was a challenge to play this emotionally unstable character who is trying to figure things out," she says.

Newcomer Sara Mack Lubis, who hails from the independent film scene, plays the youngest in the family Hani.

"She's a bubbly soul that acts as the glue to the family. Although she pokes people, she does play a role in rekindling relationships and reminds them that they don't have to disconnect with one another as they grow older," she says.



Aside from Love In Lockdown, which was produced through a collaborative effort with a local production house, Pho Sumpro, fans of streaming content can expect more exciting programming in the near future.

"We've got 20 sooka titles in the pipeline for 2022, from variety and scripted shows to telemovies and series.

"We're continuously working with great local content creators, key industry players, writers, and exciting directors from Wan Hasliza of KL Motion Pictures Company to Redcom to Gayatri Su-Lin Pillai of Infinitus, Datuk Afdlin Shauki of Petra Visionworks, Arie Zaharie Production and many more, to bring viewers various programmes and series from different genres," says sooka head of Programming, Emarina Mohd Kamal.

She adds these collaborations with notable, local production houses and content creators, include Pho Sumpro, Thinker Studios, Petra Vision Works, KL Motion Pictures, KRU Studios and Michael Ang.

"The stories we want to tell through sooka Originals stems from our brand aspiration to be bold, visionary and different, and what better way to turn this into a reality than working with strong local content partners who are excellent storytellers, and who understand what audiences look for in great, local content.

"We hope to satisfy Malaysian tastes and the likes with a strong focus on millennials and the younger generation.

"It's exciting since we can do anything and over-the-top (OTT) has no limits unlike broadcast TV," she says.

Emarina explains although the sooka streaming platform was launched last year in June, the new series had to be pushed back due to the pandemic.

"Whatever the case, we wanted to launch our first Originals series with a light-hearted drama that is still relevant," she says.

Catch the 10-episode series Love In Lockdown every Sunday on sooka at or download the app from Google Play or the App Store.

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