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Ready for love again
Publication Date : 13-02-2013
A year after news broke of the end of his marriage, Wedding Diary II star A-niu says he hopes to remarry one day
Malaysian entertainer A-niu is looking a lot more relaxed these days.
Leaning back against the sofa and smiling often during a recent interview with Life!, the singer-actor tackles every question thrown at him with ease, even when the queries are about his personal life.
It is a far cry from only a year ago, when this paper last interviewed him.
Then, news had just broken that his 12-year marriage to a Taiwanese production crew member was on the rocks, but he vehemently refused to elaborate. He was also visibly tired, and answered questions with a slightly irritated air.
One month after that interview, he announced to the press that he had in fact been divorced "for several years".
Perhaps he feels a burden has been lifted from his shoulders, now that a long-harboured secret is finally out. Sitting down to this interview, he does not allude to the past, and we do not ask.
However, he has no problem talking about his daughter, now 12, or the fact that he would like to get married again one day.
With a cheerful smile, the 36-year-old says in Mandarin: "I do hope to find a girl I can marry some day. But, of course, now that I have gone through a divorce, I feel like my confidence level in the relationship arena has taken a hit.
"I would feel slightly nervous about getting into all of that all over again, even though, ideally, I would want it."
Asked if he is currently seeing anyone, he suddenly clams up. He says carefully: "I'd rather not say at the moment. Let's see how things go."
In 2000, A-niu quietly tied the knot in his hometown of Penang with Shui Hsiang-chi, only months after they met. She was one of the crew members on a musical production he had been working on. Half a year later, she gave birth to a baby girl, confirming rumours that theirs had been a shotgun wedding.
A-niu was in town this time to promote his latest movie The Wedding Diary II, the sequel to last year's romantic drama about an unlikely couple who face family pressures about their nuptials. The first film made about 4 million ringgit (US$1.29 million) in Malaysia and S$500,000 (US$402,000) in Singapore.
The follow-up movie, also directed by Malaysia's Adrian Teh, is about the loving couple, once again played by A-niu and Hong Kong actress Elanne Kwong, as they now face disagreement over how to raise their newborn. It opens in cinemas tomorrow.
A-niu says frankly: "While working with the baby in the movie, I suddenly had this urge to be with babies and have more babies myself. They have this special baby smell. All these memories of raising a baby came rushing back when I was playing with him on set."
The baby in the movie is the young son of a friend, he says.
Though he does not shy away from any infant care duties such as changing diapers and bottlefeeding, he nonetheless faced difficulties doing them for his own daughter when she was a baby, he says.
"She was very picky with people around her, and even though I'm her father, she would never sit still for me to feed or change her diaper, because she doesn't like boys and men in general," he recalls with a laugh.
His daughter is currently living with his parents in Penang. His ex-wife has reportedly moved back to Taiwan.
He adds without reserve: "My daughter doesn't like the big city life. I have brought her to live in Kuala Lumpur and Taipei before, but she says she prefers living in the small town and running around in the garden with her dog."
A-niu, whose real name is Tan Kheng Seong, made his debut as a singer-songwriter in 1997 with the album "City Blue Sky".
He quickly shot to regional fame after Taiwanese singer Richie Jen covered his infectiously cheery tune, "Look Over, Girl Across The Street". Soon after that, Taiwanese singer Rene Liu and Hong Kong singer Karen Mok asked him to compose songs for them.
Known for his down-to-earth, kampung-boy charm, he then started taking on small roles in such movies as romantic comedy Summer Holiday (2000) alongside Jen and Sammi Cheng, and musical film Para Para Sakura (2001) starring Aaron Kwok.
He has also directed two films: Ice Kacang Puppy Love (2010), in which he also stars opposite Lee Sinje, and the recent The Golden Couple, which opened in Malaysian theatres in December.
It is not confirmed if the film, which stars Taiwanese heart-throb Mike He and Singaporean Fiona Xie, will be released in Singapore.
Ask why he did not cast himself opposite hottie Xie, and he says in jest: "I wanted the male lead character to be a very good-looking guy, and you know I'm a bit too good-looking for the role, so it would be inappropriate."
On a more serious note, he adds: "Anyway, I enjoy doing directing work, and to act and direct at the same time is really tough. But I will still take on roles in the future. I think there is still a loyal audience who wants to see me onscreen from time to time."