Most viewers seem to know what to expect in the storyline when it comes to telenovelas. A pair of star-crossed lovers will be torn apart by a jealous foe, a conniving parent, or a murderous former lover.
Then, someone gets amnesia or falls into a coma that lasts for over 30 episodes. Add more drama in the form of a character who has supposedly died, only to return in the next few episodes as a whole new person with similar features.
Will this be the same storyline adapted by the 137-episode Memori Cinta Suraya?
Perhaps as a way to keep members of the media intrigued, the main cast of Memori Cinta Suraya were tight-lipped about the conflict and drama their characters will face or inflict in the telenovela.
Produced by Astro, Memori Cinta Suraya is an adaptation of highly-rated Mexican telenovela Siempre Tuya Acapulco (A Love To Remember), which stars 27-year-old Anzalna Nasir as heroine Suraya.
“She’s a simple kampung girl whose life changes when she meets Rayyan,” Anzalna explained at a press conference in Petaling Jaya, Selangor last week.
Singaporean actor Hisyam Hamid takes on the role as Megat Rayyan, an architect from a wealthy family. His private plane crashes at a jungle in Langkawi, but luckily for him, he is rescued by Suraya.
“Due to the accident, he has amnesia and can’t remember his own identity. He strikes up a friendship with Suraya. Eventually the two fall in love and get married,” said Hisyam, 30.
All is well until Rayyan leaves Suraya and returns to the city. He regains his memory and forgets about Suraya completely. Instead, he remembers that he is actually engaged to Irina.
What’s a telenovela without a villian everyone hates? Irina is that person.
Played by actress Miera Liyana, Irina has some evil plans up her sleeves, but the actress was not quite willing to share with us how despicable she will be.
“Let’s just say she’s really mean. When Rayyan went missing, she was driven by her own materialistic mother to seduce his brother Haikal and marry him instead. She will do anything just to get her hands on Rayyan’s family wealth,” said Miera, 22.
She is also prepared for the backlash that she might face as the show’s main villain.
“If the audience is going to hate me because of my character, I’d take it as a compliment. It means that I’m doing a good job as an actress,” Miera said with a laugh.
Afiq Muiz, 22, who plays Haikal, explained that his character is obsessed with Irina and is hell-bent on marrying her despite Rayyan’s surprising return.
“He’s very different from his dashing, successful brother. To find out more, you just have to watch the show,” Afiq teased.
This telenovela is directed by Feroz Kader, who helmed the recent blockbuster Suamiku Encik Perfect 10 that grossed more than RM2.98mil at the local box-office early this year.
“Making a long production like this is a challenge. Thankfully, I have actors and actresses who know their characters. I was also impressed by Anzalna and Hisyam; they both have amazing chemistry on-set,” Feroz said.
Astro hopes to break the international TV market with Memori Cinta Suraya as it has struck up a partnership deal with TV Azteca – one of the largest media company in Mexico – to act as the global distributor for the series.
According to Astro’s vice president for Malay business Khairul Anwar Salleh, the series has been picked up by TV networks in Indonesia, China, India and South Africa.
“When we developed the series, we adapted it for the local and international market. We premiered the pilot in Cannes, France earlier this year and received rave reviews,” he said.
More television adaptations are under way, said Khairul, as Astro is looking into making local series based on popular South Korean dramas.
Memori Cinta Suraya, which premieres Aug 17, airs weekdays at 6.30pm on Astro Bella (Ch 133) and Mustika HD (Ch 134).