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Joys of Life

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Chew Chor Meng, Rui En, Wang Xin Ru, Alien Huang, Andie Chen, Zheng Ge Ping, Huang Wen Yong, Lin Mei Jiao, Kate Pang, Yao Wen Long, Chen Liping, Pan Ling Ling, Romeo Tan, Rayson Tan and Zhang Yao Dong.

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Story

In an old tenement house at Huaxiang Street live several families who play out the acts in life every day. True to his name, Zhao Mingxing “Star”, dreams of becoming a star. He is raised by his father, a movie billboard artist. Zhao Dagou, who has lived through the horrors of the Japanese Occupation, is a master storyteller. He and the ordinary-looking Sun Zibin are old friends. Zibin, who works in the office of the TV station, has a leftist younger sister, Sun Lianjing. His mother Cai Shuxian married Uncle Roti, a bread seller, through an arranged marriage. Shuxian often gripes that she is a victim of a feudal marriage. Han Yongyong is the adopted daughter of Han Jianren, a cook whose love for women and booze forces his wife Liu Daiyu to be the breadwinner of the family. The couple had wanted to adopt a boy after Daiyu failed to conceive, but the child was swopped. Yongyong grew up being raised as a boy. Thereafter, they gave birth to three daughters. One of them, Han Rourou, is the beauty of Huaxiang Street. She is every man’s dream girl, but her heart is set on marrying a foreigner.

The tenement house is owned by bakery owner Qian Caifa and his wife Jin Yinjiao. The couple has three sons. Qian Yiduo often leaves any dirty job to his indignant younger brother Qian Erduo while he goes off to gallivant. This family occupies the big unit above the bakery. The other occupants are Caifa’s cousin Qian Caiguang, the latter’s wife who works in a charcoal shop, and their daughter Qian Meihua. The mean Caifa took them in only because he feels guilty of having schemed against his cousin to possess the bakery. Although Caifa is prosperous, his marriage is not entirely blissful for he has never gotten over the fact that Cousin Caiguang once embraced his wife. Instead, he is a secret admirer of Shuxian who has more class.

Mingxing loses heart after several unsuccessful attempts to be a star search finalist. He decides to study acting in Japan. While openly opposing it, Dagou nevertheless secretly tries to raise money for his son’s overseas education. Moved by this, the filial Mingxing eventually gives up the opportunity to study abroad. When Mingxing finds out that Lianjing is a closet fan of stars, the quarrelsome pair who shares a common interest start dating each other in secret. Dagou saves Zhang Xiaoyu who suffers from amnesia. While Mingxing is eager to pair his father with Xiaoyu, Dagou is against the idea.

Yiduo is unaware that he is being elbow out by Erduo. He meets with danger on several occasions, only to be saved by Yongyong who seems to be able to connect in mindwith him. Yiduo grows fond of her. Zibin becomes an overnight sensation when he covers for a DJ on medical leave. Suffering from an inferiority complex, he pushes Mingxing to impersonate him to meet his fans, as well as to let Mingxing experience what it is like to be in the limelight. Yongyong takes up employment as a domestic help in a Caucasian family. A keen learner, she seizes the chance to learn English, and catches the fancy of Master Johnson. Envious and jealous, Rourou worms her way into the household, also as a domestic help, to get close to Johnson who has eyes only for Yongyong. Refusing to admit defeat, Rourou throws herself at Peterson, Johnson’s friend, but is abandoned by him after she gets pregnant. Daiyu pretends to be the one pregnant so as to protect Rourou from shame, but the latter gives birth to a baby of mixed race. Thereafter, rumours spread, with everyone gossiping behind Rourou’s back. Only Zibin stands steadfast beside her.

The getai business is at its peak. The three buddies start Xin Hua Xiang Stage Company. Recognising Dagou’s talent as a standup comic, Xiaoyu encourages him to perform at getai shows. Just as Daogou’s feelings for Xiaoyu grows, a Japanese by the name of Tamaguchi appears claiming to be Xiaoyu’s husband. Dagou is jolted to his senses. Mistaking Xiaoyu for a Japanese, he starts to distance himself from her, however, he feels anguish seeing how she is mistreated by Tamaguchi. The intense competition in the getai business compels Xin Hua Xiang to consider joining the bandwagon in offering striptease acts, to Zibin and Lianjing’s objections. Song and dance versus striptease act, the former emerges as the loser.

Mingxing and Lianjing breaks off due to irreconcilable differences. Tamaguchi puts pressure on Xiaoyu to perform striptease to earn a living but she tearfully refuses. Unable to contain his anger, Dagou stops Xiaoyu from going on stage. Mingxing takes her place but is exposed by the audience. Their business suffers. Dagou and the witty Uncle Roti salvage the situation by taking centrestage. Surprisingly, they are a hit with the crowd, thus saving Xin Hua Xiang. Uncle Roti stands tall in front of his wife who has always despised him.

1963 sees the advent of the television. Rourou starts life afresh and drags Yongyong to participate in Talentime on TV. Mingxing invites them to perform at his getai, and they become the singing sensation of love ballads. Yiduo falls for Yongyong, but just as he is about to woo her, he discovers to his horror that Yongyong is his twin elder sister. It turns out that Yinjiao had a difficult labour and was unaware that she had given birth to a pair of twins. Yongyong was sold away at birth. When Jianren finds out that Caifa is Yongyong’s biological father, he creates a ruckus by demanding his money back. Yongyong remains fillial to her adoptive parents. On finding out that Caifa has given her up for Shuxian, the jealous Yinjiao flies into a rage and wants to drive her family out.

Set up by Erduo, Yiduo and Lianjing end up in bed together in a drunken stupor. The odd couple are forced to tie the knot. Xiaoyu regains her memory out of a sudden. The truth is revealed that Tamaguchi is the culprit behind her unfortunate state. After Tamaguchi is driven away, Dagou picks up courage to express his love to Xiaoyu. However, he is stunned when Xiaoyu reveals that she is a majie who has vowed celibacy. Meanwhile, Mingxing and Yongyong begin to appreciate each other’s virtues, and their feelings for each other grows.

Unhappy that Yongyong is more popular than her, Rourou quits as a singing duo to go solo but fails to earn an audience. For the sake of money, Rourou resorts to performing striptease but is driven to perform in Kuala Lumpur following a police raid. Zibin stays faithfully by her side. When Rourou retires from singing and plumps herself in the bakery, Erduo sets fire to the shop out of resentment. Not only did he die in the fire, but the tenement house is razed to the ground. All the neighbours chip in to rebuild the house. Yongyong shoulders the heavy responsibility of re-opening the bakery. Under Mingxing’s support and encouragement, the bakery rises like a phoenix from the ashes.

Love abounds when these men and women cross paths. Will lovebirds Mingxing and Yongyong end up as a blissful couple? Will Rourou’s heart be melted by Zibin’s accommodating nature and sincere love? Will the antagonistic pair Yiduo and Lianjing be together till their twilight years? As for Dagou and Xiaoyu, will there be a surprise ending for them?

Source: Xinmsn, Mediacorp

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Joys of Life
花样人间

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Last modified on 9 July 2012