Acting and singing are talents that run deep in Muhammad Allif Firdaus Rosdi’s blood.
His grandfather was Che Hussain Che Mat, a known keroncong singer in Kelantan, and his uncle was the late actor-singer Raffi Hussain. His mother – Noor Sheila, who chaperones Allif everywhere – still performs at weddings and family gatherings whenever she can.
This explains how the teenager, who turned 14 on July 23, could make his feature film debut in the leading part of the upcoming film Jejak Warriors.
Directed by Saw Teong Hin – and featuring members of Kelantan’s football team, The Red Warriors – the film revolves around Allif’s character, who makes a road trip from Johor Baru to Kota Baru to get the footballers’ autographs.
In a separate interview with Saw, the director described Allif as a young man who doesn’t quite realise just how talented he is. Saw added: “He brought a lot of young energy to the set.”
That enthusiastic energy was present at this particular photo shoot at The Star’s office in Petaling Jaya. Allif was ever game to try different poses – continuing to pose do so even when the camera was not clicking, making funny faces, and then laughing at his own antics. The youngest in a family made up of 10 children who lives in Pasir Puteh, Kelantan, Allif listens to whatever his parents tells him.
1. How did you get into acting and what shows have we seen you in?
I was in Standard Four (10 years old) when Sabri Yunus was looking for a child actor who could speak in Kelantenese dialect for a telemovie he was directing (Hari Hari Terakhir Seorang Seniman). I heard about it and told my parents I want to try for the role.
My father’s friend took a photo of me and sent to Sabri Yunus. I got a meeting with him at his house; there was food, and we just talked. Then, the next day we started shooting.
Since then I have acted in drama series like Anak Hero, Cikgu Imah Salimah, Nasi Kukus Sufiyah and Prima Dona Yang Hilang.
It was Sabri Yunus who recommended me to Saw Teong Hin for Jejak Warriors. I am very thankful to him.
2. Have you always wanted to be an actor?
My first love is singing actually. Everyone in my family can sing. Whenever we get together, we always have karaoke sessions.
In primary school, I represented my school in a singing competition, and I got second place. I couldn’t sing properly at the finals because I had gone out for a picnic the day before, and had so much fun in the pool that I lost my voice (laughs). I have also auditioned for Idola Kecil (on TV9), but didn’t get in.
Now, I still sing for my school in nasyid competitions, and got third placing recently. But it looks like my rezeki (fortune) lies in acting right now.
3. What was it like the first time you had to act? What about now?
I was very nervous. I could feel my heart beating really fast. But everyone in the cast and crew were nice to me and treated me like a friend. I learned a lot from them.
I am still learning – I really looked to Saw Teong Hin and (fellow actor) Pekin Ibrahim for guidance. (Co-star) Nadiya Nisaa also helped me a lot, as well as Fauziah Nawi (the acting coach for Jejak Warriors).
I am truly grateful that my family supports me in my career. My mother was with me the whole time we shot Jejak Warriors at different locations in Malaysia for almost a month. She and my sister played my grandmother and my mother in the film!
4. Who are your favourite performers?
Singing-wise, I like Shila Amzah and Anuar Zain. Acting-wise, I am a fan of Zul Ariffin and Shaheizy Sam.
5. What was your most memorable experience filming Jejak Warriors?
There is one scene when my character misses the bus and has to walk. It’s supposed to be raining and he falls into a ravine.
We shot that scene from midnight to early in the morning. The filming happened during last year’s fasting month, so we carried on until it was time to sahur.
There was a lot of waiting because they had to refill the fire truck to create rain, and I had to run quite a lot for the scene. But it’s my most memorable experience.
Jejak Warriors opens in cinemas nationwide on Aug 27.