Unveiling of Brunei’s hidden talents

Hakim Hayat

The first season of the Bruneian reality show Bintang Search garnered over 900,000 views on YouTube since its premiere in June.

Its season finale concert marked the culmination of a nine-week-long programme – the first of its kind in the sultanate – that has unearthed hidden talents in the country.

Bintang Search is a singing-based reality show that attracted over 300 individuals to showcase their talents during a month-long audition in June. It featured three celebrity judges – singer-songwriter Fakhrul Razi, entertainment producer Nana Farhana and new singer Rizal Rasid.

From the auditions, a line-up of unique and talented singers was selected to create the programme’s Top 20 Bintang contestants.

Bintang Search recently crowned its first winner, with Mimi Wahab taking the title during the show’s Season Finale Concert, beating four other finalists Sami Alli, Najrul Maznibi, Khairul Nadzri and Maya Walker.

Winner of Bintang Search Mimi Wahab (centre) in a group photo with the other finalists, judges, hosts and the creator of the show. PHOTO: ORIGIN ORIGINAL PRODUCTIONS! (OOPS!)

The YouTube-based programme has regularly produced concerts and behind-the scenes content and amassed a sizable following of loyal viewers.

Director and programme producer Siti Kamaluddin attributed the show’s success to local youth working tirelessly behind the scenes, most of whom are still learning the basics of show business.

Bintang Search has provided a platform for young directors (and production team) to learn on the job as part of their training and gain exposure,” she said.

“It is also amazing what Bruneians can accomplish with dedication and commitment. In a little over two months these finalists have potentially changed the course of their lives,” she added.

Bintang Search also provided a platform for its sponsors such as imagine, NBT Toyota Brunei and Brunei Press to provide direct support to the local creative industry.

She added that the journey has been very interesting for her and the team, especially noting that it’s not just them who are missing entertainment TV shows in Brunei, but also Bruneians and the pandemic period boosted the demand.

“It has also been a touching journey for me because it made us bond together more as a family,” she said.

She admitted that they were not expecting much reception but with the trust from several parties and corporates, more viewers came forward to support art and the creative industry in Brunei. She hoped that the support will continue for the second season of Bintang Search.

“We have a great future in online streaming. The best thing with YouTube is that it is accessible from any device,” she said.

With the season finale concert, the show’s producers have said that this is not the end of the Bintang universe. Origin Original Productions! (OOPs!) said that they will continue to release recaps of the programme including performances and memories from Road to Bintang.

Bintang Search first season winner Mimi Wahab said, “Bintang Search has given me an insight into the industry and I am ready to take on this new journey ahead.

“I am very grateful for the platform, the classes and the mentors,” she added. “I would like to thank OOPs! for this programme, the production, the judges, especially my family and voters who have stuck with me this far.”

Fakhrul Razi commented that reality TV programmes such as Bintang Search can be beneficial to the local music industry as it has given the contestants “a platform to showcase their talents to a wider audience”.

Meanwhile, Rizal Rasid and Nana Farhana expressed their admiration for the hidden talents in Brunei. “We identified many talented individuals from the auditions. The Top 20 is our winners, and now it’s all up to how they utilise this platform to grow within the industry.”