Noor Ashikin Abdul Rahman
Malaysian actress Nora Danish is no stranger to controversy.
Year after year, she has had her name dragged through the mud and her face splashed on tabloids for endless controversies.
Her latest - a photo of her holding co-star Farid Kamil's hand to promote their latest film, Pengantin Malam.
In the new horror film, now available on SingTel mio TV's Video-On-Demand Cine-Ekspres, the pair play married couple Maya and Razif who become haunted by scary occurrences after Maya loses her memory in a road accident.
Farid's wife, Malaysian actress Diana Danielle, posted a note on Instagram to express her displeasure at the choice of photo used.
Nora, 32, who was in town with Farid on Saturday, kept cool when asked about this.
Before her appearance at TAA (Tabung Amal Aidilfitri) and SingTel mio TV's Ramadan promotional charity event at Joo Chiat Complex, Nora told The New Paper: "I don't want to comment too much on this. She's a wife - I was once a wife too so I understand and it's not her fault.
I was affected because she is a friend but unfortunately, I didn't manage to talk to her to clear the air. I only spoke to Farid, who said he would handle it."
Nora should be an old hand in handling such controversies by now. The public is eager to pick apart her life, mining her Instagram account - which has the most number of followers in Malaysia at nearly 900,000 - for material to fuel their attacks.
These range from her physical appearance, to her relationship with her ex-husband's family, to her love life and her rumoured relationship with numerous co-stars.
Nora's striking good looks, with a hint of her Burmese ancestry, and her status as a single mother only serve as fodder for constant gossip.
In dealing with hurtful gossip, she says her main concern has always been her son.
"I have to always be careful, even when choosing schools for him because people will always talk and he gets the brunt of it too. I want him to grow up happy and healthy," said Nora of her six-year-old boy, Putra Rayqal Ramli.
She also made clear her disappointment that her decade-long career continues to be plagued by controversies.
Her latest role sees her treading the boards, starring as Farhana, one of the three wives of a polygamous businessman, Syed Maadon Al-Attas (played by Malaysian actor Zizan Razak) in the Malay play, Bahayanya Wanita.
It will be staged here on Aug 16 and also stars esteemed Malaysian actresses Erma Fatima, Umie Aida and Erra Fazira.
Despite wanting people to focus on her acting chops, Nora said she is resigned to her fate as gossip fodder.
Calling herself "imperfect", Nora admitted that she used to cry from the negative attention but has learnt to be a positive person.
She credits the change in part to current beau Nedim Nazri, the youngest son of Malaysia's Tourism and Culture Minister, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz.
"He might look like a gangster but in truth he is soft-spoken, speaks well of everyone and is a positive influence in my life," said Nora.
JUST STARTED DATING
While she has known him for seven years, the pair started dating only last year.
"We were both previously married so it's easier to understand each other and talk about being a parent.
"His quality as a father is extraordinary," Nora added.
It is too soon to say if marriage is on the cards, but Nora admitted that she has never before felt what she feels towards Mr Nedim.
When asked if she thinks he is the one, Nora paused before answering shyly: "Yes, he could be."
Despite that, she refuses to jump the gun.
"Marriage is not something to be taken very lightly and I want to think very carefully before I plunge into it. Both of us are trying our best," said the actress, who used to be married to entrepreneur Rizal Ashram Ramli.
They got divorced in 2008 after a two-year marriage.
He is now married to her friend and fellow actress, Fasha Sandha, with whom she remains close.
But even Nora knows that settling down is not the answer to her long-standing battle with critics who focus on her private life.
Said Nora: "Just look at Siti Nurhaliza or Rozita Che Wan. They get attacked even when it comes to their husbands. Maybe this will only end when one ceases to be a celebrity?"
He might look like a gangster but in truth he is soft-spoken, speaks well of everyone and is a positive influence in my life.
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