It was the year 1984 during the month of Ramadan at the famed Redifussion studio located at Jalan Pahang.
Two teenagers who go by the name of Anuar Zain and Ellina Razak were then busy recording their piece for a song about Aidilfitri celebration entitled "Suasana Hari Raya".
Little did they know. that their efforts that day would make up a classic hit that would continue to set the mood of the festive month of Syawal in Malaysia (and abroad!) for many years to come.
The masterpiece composed by legendary producer, the late Datuk Adnan Abu Hassan, with lyrics by the amazing Habsah Hassan has stood the test of time and has stayed evergreen to this very day.
We were able to reach out to both Anuar and Ellina to learn more about the backstory and how they reflect on the success of the song.
Meet the stars
While Anuar has continued to remain in the entertainment scene, Ellina finds joy in being a homemaker as well as serving as a board member for the Malaysian International Dance Organisation.
Stories from the past
“I was super excited to record it,” remarked Anuar about how he felt when he learnt that he was going to work on a Raya song.
Ellina, on the other hand, was pretty chill about it.
“When I was told about it, it was just work; task to be done. I was just a kid and didn’t know much. But now, I am glad (that) I was the one given the task. 'Lucky' is the best word to describe it all,” she stated.
“It was just a great experience for both of us as kids to record our vocals (at) that time. Very thankful for that,” added Anuar.
We also learnt that the recording process back then was a lot more tedious and time-consuming.
“…Tapes were used to record the music and vocal. There was a lot of cutting tapes going on (editing) and rewinding the tape and transferring it from a big tape to a smaller one. Mixing and mastering also took a lot of time as everything was done manually,” explained Anuar.
"With the analogue tapes in play, you try not to screw up too much. What you sing is what you hear,” quipped Elina.
Guess what? During the day of the recording, Ellina was actually down with flu.
“Luckily, I managed to sing through it without struggling too much,” she elaborated.
As for the visual elements, Anuar clarified that there were a few clips recorded by several television stations for the song.
“The one that was quite known was recorded at our house with the neighbour’s children. The scenario was like a real Hari Raya. It was awesome!” he reminisced.
(Fun fact: The video was shot at Anuar’s family home in Shah Alam. According to Ellina, some of their family members were also featured in the video!)
The two were in agreement to say that not once did it occur to them that the song would make it this big.
In Anuar’s word: “Never in a million years that we thought that the song will become a hit and become the most played Raya song for so long, till now.”
He expressed his gratitude for the initiatives taken by singers and fans alike to cover the song. He also feels humbled that the song has been chosen as background music for various Raya advertisements.
The dynamic duo
In case you didn't know, "Suasana Hari Raya" is not the only song that they have worked on together. (Psst… give "Kain Pelikat" a listen!)
They share many fond memories of their time together as child singers.
“It was always great to work with Ellina,” Anuar said.
"We are like siblings till now. We had a lot of fun together. We fought a lot too.”
Ellina shares the same sentiment.
She also mentioned that despite Anuar’s professional ability to take on any song with ease, “one of his best characters is not interfering or correcting me during recordings and leaving it all to the producer. He sat through my turn in vocal booth patiently.”
The two have stayed in touch throughout the years with the occasional supper outings that could last for hours as they have so much to talk about, Ellina noted.
The sudden realisation
As she got older, Ellina began to realise that the song to which she lent her voice has become a classic.
She is aware that the song has been downloaded by many Malaysian students abroad who could not return home from Raya.
“They missed home and somehow the song feels like home. I am honoured to be remembered that way. We got lucky. I got lucky to be part of everyone's Raya,” expressed the mother of four.
“My old friends from school are the ones who are excited, more than I am,” admitted Ellina.
Her friends would even go to the extent of introducing her to their children as ‘kawan mama/papa yang menyanyi lagu Raya tu
(mama’s/papa’s friend who sang the Raya song).’
As for her children, Ellina said, “My kids are cool-headed. They just smile when the song is played in the mall, in the car.”
Anuar shared a different take on the subject.
“I used to quickly walk out of the premise if they play the song as I am quite a shy person (and) do not want any attention,” he told us with a laugh.
These days, however, he feels ecstatic to listen to the song – whenever or wherever it may be. However, it was only after he had quit his job as a flight attendant and made a comeback in the music industry did he realise the massive impact of the song.
He described it as “a very humbling experience for the both of us”.
He beams with pride and is filled with gratefulness that the song continues to be appreciated by the young and the old. The Malacca-born is also pleased to know that he has contributed to the local music industry and the listeners.
Reflecting upon the current situation, Anuar stated, “I think this year’s Hari Raya will be very relaxing and moderate compared to the previous years. It is our new normal and I think it will be a great Hari Raya as there will be no commotion as previous years – not that I did not like it but it will be something different.
"Just us, the whole family celebrating Hari Raya together. It will be great!”
Like many others, Ellina too feels the pain and sadness for not being able to be by her parents’ side in Kuala Kangsar, Perak this Raya. It doesn't help that her husband, Muzaffar Abdul Rahman, would also not be around due to work commitment.
She is, however, planning to liven the spirits by preparing an extra special dish for Raya!
(We hear the durian cake is her speciality!)
A wish from Anuar and Ellina
With Raya just around the corner, the singers of this iconic song have a special message for you!
“I would like to wish Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri to my family, my friends and my well-wishers who are my fans, our Malaysian music lovers and to all Malaysian all over the world. Embrace the new normal; take care of ourselves and our family by staying home during this coming Hari Raya. May all of us be blessed by Allah SWT during this testing period. May all of us have a lot of fun, a lot of laughter, good food on our tables and do not forget to video call your loved ones. Take care of each other.”
"I would like to wish Selamat Hari Raya to all fans of the song and to my friends and family. Let’s embrace this experience with a humble heart. No need for a new car, new furniture, new baju raya and all. This Raya would be the humblest Raya ever. Stay home, so we could balik kampung for Raya next year.
If you’re a fan who would like to keep yourself in the loop on the latest updates from these wonderful personalities, you could follow them on Instagram at @anuarzain70