Celebrity Chow with TV stars Mastura Ahmad and Syirah Jusni

Over the last two months, local Suria actress Syirah Jusni's weight plummeted.

Overcome with grief after her actor-boyfriend of two years Ashmi Roslan, 34, died of a heart attack in June, she did not have much of an appetite.

"I didn't get on a weighing scale, but my co-workers remarked that I've lost a lot of weight," said the 26-year-old, when she and veteran actress Mastura Ahmad met M for lunch at Asian Market Cafe at Fairmont Singapore.

Mastura, 47, nodded emphatically and said: "Ya, she did."

The pair are cast members of Channel 5's long-form drama Tanglin, which centres on the lives and relationships of four multiracial families living in the Holland Village, Tanglin and Commonwealth areas.

Mastura and Syirah play mother and daughter in the 199-episode series, airing weeknights at 8.30pm and also on Toggle.sg.

"You know what's the irony?" asked Syirah with a slight smile.

"When Tanglin first started (filming in April and airing in June), I was quite chubby on TV. In the coming episodes, my character is supposed to be pregnant, yet I look thinner."

Watching the duo tuck into an array of dishes including crabs, prawns and chicken rice, it was evident that Syirah's spirits - and appetite - were momentarily lifted by having Mastura beside her.

"Everyone who works with Mastura has great chemistry with her. She is so funny and just everything nice," gushed Syirah.

Syirah, you are friends with your Tanglin onscreen family (comprising Mastura, Fauzie Laily and Elfaeza Ul Haq). The tight bond you guys share must have helped you through tough times?

Syirah: Yes, we're very close and all of them knew (Ashmi). I know I'd be feeling sad, but I'd tell myself, 'I have all these wonderful people on set and I should not dampen their mood'.

Mastura: Syirah was given two weeks' urgent leave after (Ashmi's death), but (Tanglin co-star Wee) Soon Hui and I were thinking, maybe two weeks is too long.

Work could help take her mind off things. Maybe I should just give her a call and persuade her to come back to filming.

But I realised I didn't know what to say. We didn't go through what she did.

Do you all eat a lot on the set of Tanglin?

Mastura: Recently, our female dressing room has become a pantry (laughs)! Fauzie keeps coming in with food. And Elfaeza has the biggest appetite among the four of us - she eats all our food props.

Why do you like Asian Market Cafe?

Syirah: The location here is convenient and accessible.

Mastura: The food is good, especially the durian pengat (durian pulp cooked with coconut milk and palm sugar).

Do both of you cook? Who's the better between the two of you?

Syirah: Mastura cooks very well. She can cook almost everything.

Mastura: I have four kids aged 14, 16, 19 and 21. On weekends, I usually make spaghetti and burgers for them.

Nasi goreng is my speciality. I'd cook it with fresh green chilli pounded with anchovies and a bit of belacan. I also bake cakes, bread and cookies.

Syirah: I cannot cook for nuts, except for "last-minute food". You know, when your parents are not home and you have to resort to cooking instant noodles. But my mum doesn't like me eating instant noodles, she'd nag at me that it's no good for my health.

Mastura: Of course it's no good.

Syirah: Being the mother on our Tanglin set, Mastura will go around making sure Fauzie, Elfaeza and I have proper meals.

But there are days when I crave fast food. My parents love to cook, but sometimes, I get so tired of eating home food.

I can't possibly tell that to their faces. So I'd lie and say I'm going to the neighbourhood shops, then I'd sneak into McDonald's. It's pathetic (laughs).

This article was first published on August 19, 2015.
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