“I’ve been around,” says funnyman Farouk Hussain, sporting a wide smile and a buoyant personality, in an interview with Star2. “It’s just that I haven’t been appearing on television.”

The 51-year-old has carved an illustrious career as a host on shows such as the 1990s talent search programme Sinaran Pasport Kegemilangan and as an actor, notably on Anak Mami The Movie.

But Farouk seems to have gone under the radar in the past few years.

Frustrations in the entertainment industry led him to quit the business altogether. His last TV appearance was sometime in 2012. Since then, Farouk’s bread and butter has come from emceeing at corporate events.

Early last year, he returned to the small screen, playing a supporting role on the 60-episode primetime drama series Dia. He will star in another 50-episode romance drama, Cinta Koko Coklat, next.

Currently, he hosts Teka Tekan, dubbed as Malaysia’s first interactive game show, alongside Acong Sweet Child, Shuib Sepahtu and Anas Ridzuan. Unifi TV subscribers need only to answer five questions correctly and they can win up to RM20,000.

“I would say it is a comeback for me, after being away from television for six years,” he comments on these recent string of projects.

1. Why did you leave the acting industry?

It’s not because I lost interest in acting. I love acting. But the same issue of payment and the level of appreciation shown towards veterans still hasn’t changed.

I’ve been acting for so long but the rate is still like 15 years ago. The longer you are in the industry, sometimes, your rate goes lower. You could be here for 20 to 30 years, but your rate goes lower and lower – that’s what I’ve observed.

When you’re young, it’s OK, but it’s hard when you get to your 50s and 60s and you get these tiny roles.

I would like to see senior artistes getting paid according to their talent – not their looks, popularity, or the number of Instagram or Facebook followers. That should not be the way.

If you’re good, the directors will know and pay you accordingly.

2. So what have you been up to these past few years?

Farouk Hussain

Farouk Hussain is back in full swing, with roles in two romantic dramas Dia and Cinta Koko Coklat.

My main source of income comes from emceeing. Over there, the level of appreciation is higher.

I’ve also been doing voice-overs for TV commercials.

And after joining MasterChef Selebriti Malaysia, I opened a kiosk selling Western food for a year. I had to close it because I was getting a lot of emceeing offers.

3. What made you decide to come back to acting?

I cannot change what’s happening in our industry. The reason I want to come back now is because of my passion for acting.

It’s no longer about wanting to inspire change.

Previously, I tried to do that but now I just let that go and let the system run by itself. Whether the industry changes or not, it doesn’t matter.

My priority is I want to be happy. I want to do what I love and I want my fans to enjoy what I’m doing.

4. Both Dia and Cinta Koko Coklat are serious dramas. How does your comedic background fit into these shows?

They’re serious dramas but the moment my character comes in, viewers get a light moment.

In both shows, I’m the comic relief. In the midst of all that seriousness, I add some spice even though my scenes are not long.

5. Would you like to play a serious role for a change?

I would like to act in serious roles if I’m given a shot. In over 20 years, I’ve never had the chance.

The moment I walk in, without opening my mouth, people would laugh – something like Mr Bean where I don’t even have to say anything.

I accept that but I’d like to be given a chance to see whether I can carry a serious role. If I cannot, at least the public gets to decide and I’ll know.

If I ever get the chance to play a serious role, I’d like to play the bad guy, but someone you don’t expect to be the bad guy, someone who starts out with a very innocent look.

Teka Tekan airs every weeknight at 8.30pm on HyppSensasi (unifi TV Ch 116).