Eddino Abdul Hadi
The Straits Times
March 2, 2016
Fans of singer-songwriter Taufik Batisah will be seeing him on the small and big screens more than they will be listening to new music from him - at least in the next few months.
He will make his first appearance as a television host tonight on Suria docu-drama series Simptom, which aims to raise awareness of kidney problems in the local Malay community.
He also has two feature film roles in upcoming Malaysian movies, comedy film Dukun Doktor Dani and romantic comedy Soulmate.
With his last album, Fique, released in 2014, is music taking a backseat for the 34-year-old former Singapore Idol?
Not true, he says, speaking to the media recently at the National Kidney Foundation Singapore (NKF) Centre in Kim Keat Road.
"I just finished that concert 5 Divo in Kuala Lumpur, that's a good thing to keep my musicality in check," he says, referring to the Malaysian show he took part in last month, with fellow regional singers such as Judika from Indonesia and Hafiz from Malaysia.
He also wrote and sang the theme song for Simptom.
But he does not rule out the fact that he might spend more time in front of the cameras than in the music studio or on a concert stage in the future.
"Acting is quite interesting. I can see myself doing more acting after the second film. I love to do everything, I love to just try new things, see if it bites. So we'll see if I can actually act or host. If it works, then I'll pursue it. Whether it works or not depends on how the viewers receive it," he says.
Hosting Simptom, which is a collaboration between NKF and community health group Geng Sihat SG, was not easy.
He explains: "Hosting is very challenging. You have to put across the jargon, there is technical information to memorise and you have to understand what you are saying. You cannot just read out the script."
On the programme, Taufik meets and talks to Singaporeans suffering from kidney ailments, some as young as seven.
According to an NKF spokesman, the singer was chosen to anchor the show because he "sets a great example of leading a healthy and active lifestyle".
"His image appeals to the masses, especially the Malay community. We believe he is the right person to front this programme as he cares for the less fortunate in the society too."
The experience can get highly emotional, Taufik says, because he has loved ones who are at risk of kidney diseases. Some of the patients' stories, such as a mother who had to make huge sacrifices to care for her kidney patient daughter, also moved him to tears.
Being a part of the show has opened his eyes to how living a healthy lifestyle plays a big part in preventing kidney failure.
At home, his wife Sheena Akbal, 31, who works in the arts industry, prepares meals for him and his retired mother, who is 65, using healthy ingredients such as olive oil, plenty of vegetables and substituting quinoa for rice.
The couple, who were married last year, are also exercising more.
"The idea of the show, for me, is to scare the viewers about the realities of this disease and, at the same time, give strength, hope and advice to the patients on how to live their lives to the fullest.
"Life does move on for these patients - they are really, really strong."
• Simptom airs on Suria on Wednesday at 9pm, starting tonight .