'I was moved to tears'

AWARENESS: A still from Simptom, a docudrama where Taufik Batisah (left) speaks to kidney patients and their families.

Local singer Taufik Batisah went on an emotional roller-coaster ride when he took on his first TV hosting gig for a Suria docudrama, Simptom.

The show, which premieres on March 2 at 9pm, sees the Singapore Idol speaking to kidney patients and their families, who share their tales of coping with kidney failure.

Taufik, 34, admitted it was hard to hold back tears during filming, especially when he met a seven-year-old kidney patient and her mother.

He told reporters yesterday at the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) at Kim Keat Road: "You just can't imagine someone so young going through operations or dialysis. It's unimaginable. I have a soft spot for mothers - everyone knows this - so when her mother told me stories of her love and sacrifice for her child, I was moved to tears.

"It was really touching because a mother's sacrifice has no end and mothers will do anything for their family. Through this show, I learnt that family support was a common factor and extremely important for all these patients."

Simptom, a collaboration between NKF and health group Geng Sihat SG, aims to raise awareness of kidney failure and its causes while educating Malay viewers on the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle.

In Singapore, there is one new case of kidney failure every five hours.

Singapore ranks fourth-highest in the world for incidence of kidney failure .

Said Taufik: "It instilled a certain amount of fear in me because it's ridiculously easy for people to have this condition.

"Sometimes, we don't lead an active lifestyle when we get older and food portion control is not something we practise. This show educates viewers on the realities and scares them about the possibility."

His involvement with Simptom encouraged him to improve his lifestyle as well as that of his 65-year-old mother and his wife, Ms Sheena Akbal, 31, whom he married in April last year.

At home, Ms Sheena, who works in the arts industry, opts for healthier options and uses quinoa, plenty of greens, olive oil and sea salt instead of table salt.

"She's a pretty great cook and she keeps surprising me with her experiments. My mum loves her cooking," said Taufik, who occasionally does intermittent fasting - fasting for 16 hours and eating within a strict eight-hour window period - to achieve a lean physique.

He tried to introduce his wife to his fitness routine, which comprises high-intensity interval training and weight training.

"She does a lot of yoga... (and) hopefully she bites. (Getting her on board) is not easy. It's a lot easier before you get married," he said with a laugh.


Emotions also got the better of him when filming his second Malaysian movie, Soulmate, in Chiang Mai and Kuala Lumpur recently.

"There's a lot of fighting and also crying. It's the first time I cried like crazy. My wife, who was with me, was surprised.

"I don't know how (Malaysian actress and co-star) Erra Fazira does it. She cries on cue, it's ridiculous," said Taufik, who took on the lead role in the movie, which also stars Malaysian actress Raja Ilya and is slated for release next year.

In recent years, Taufik has juggled music, a big-screen acting role and reality TV comedy show judging duties across the Causeway.

And he has managed to steer clear of controversy even after 12 years in the industry.

When asked about his wholesome image, Taufik said: "It all depends on how people want to perceive me. In Malaysia, people find me boring because I have no scandals, but it's just the way I live.

"I'd rather let my work speak for itself."

You just can't imagine someone so young going through operations or dialysis. It's unimaginable.

- Taufik Batisah on a seven-year-old kidney patient


This article was first published on Feb 26, 2016.
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