The New Paper
September 6, 2016
It was far from love at first sight, or even a "meet cute".
When local singer-actor and reformed "bad boy" Aliff Aziz, who has been based in Kuala Lumpur since 2011, first met his bride-to-be four years ago in Malaysia, romance wasn't even close to being a part of the equation.
In fact, he didn't think he and Malaysian broadcasting undergraduate Dayang Ara Nabellah Awang Astillah would even be friends after a brief text message conversation between them turned sour.
But fate had other plans for the unlikely couple.
After dating for almost two years and being engaged for nine months, Aliff, 25, and Miss Bella, 22, are set to tie the knot this Friday at a solemnisation ceremony for family and close friends in Selangor, Malaysia.
That same evening, they will host 1,000 guests at a dinner reception at Top Glove Tower in Shah Alam.
The English royalty-themed wedding will feature the pair clad in a white gown and tuxedo that Aliff says was inspired by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's big day in 2011.
On how the couple are feeling in the lead-up to Friday, Aliff told The New Paper over the phone from Kuala Lumpur yesterday: "She is already feeling nervous, but I don't feel the nerves just yet although I know I'm going to feel it real soon."
But this fairytale ending was far from what Aliff expected back in 2012.
He said: "She was 18 and in school. She asked me for help with a project which tasked her to shoot a music video with a celebrity.
"But I never replied to her messages and by the fourth text she sent, she was angry. She basically told me that the least I could do is to reply even if I didn't want to help her with it.
"I shot back another fiery text and that was the last we wrote to each other."
Aliff said: "I wasn't interested... I wasn't keen on dating someone younger."
In the following two years, Miss Bella reeled in anger and told her family members never to speak his name in front of her - and she meant it. Once, she even told her family to leave a restaurant they had planned to eat at because Aliff's song was playing there.
The next time they met was at an awards show after-party in December 2014.
Aliff said: "I panicked for awhile because of the way our last conversation had ended. I contemplated pretending I didn't see her, but I just couldn't do it.
"So I went up to her and asked if she remembered me and immediately apologised for not helping her with her school project."
Miss Bella told TNP in a separate interview: "Deep down, I was still angry that he did that to me. But I didn't want to sound so spiteful. So I just told him it's okay and wanted to leave it at that."
What followed gave her a shock.
"He went on to ask me out. I just told him that I had to check with my sister and my mother. He waited for me as I did both," she said.
"In the end, my sister tagged along, and we all hung out. I guess, as reluctant as I was, we hit it off from there."
Even after Aliff and Miss Bella started dating, it wasn't all smooth-sailing.
"My mother wasn't keen on him. She knew about his history and told me that she didn't trust him... she wouldn't even look at him sometimes," she said.
Aliff made his music comeback in January this year with the release of his latest album, Rebirth, tracks from which have been nominated for Best Artist Collaboration, Best Song Collaboration and Singapore's Most Popular Artist for the upcoming Anugerah Planet Muzik (APM) to be held in Singapore on Sept 30.
He recently wrapped up filming of TV3 Malaysian series Meh Sandar Pada Aku, in which he plays the male lead.
However, he hit a rough patch in 2014 when he was caught on the wrong side of the law twice.
He allegedly punched a Malaysian hotel employee in December 2014 and stole two mobile phones earlier in May, for which he was fined $2,000.
He became a recluse and dodged public events and the media out of embarrassment.
Miss Bella said: "It was tough, but I guess (my mother) finally saw him for the person he is. He was constantly trying to make amends and turn over a new leaf and I guess she eventually saw his sincerity."
Aliff said: "The past few years were tough. Bella basically led me (back) to the music scene by continuously motivating me and encouraging me to persevere. I have her to thank for a lot of things.
"Second to my mother, I now know that Bella is the reason I was born."
This article was first published on September 6, 2016.
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