CURRENTLY visible in Maravan — a local Tamil film recently made available on TV-on-demand service Astro First — Sangeeta Krishnasamy has hit many milestones as a young talent in a struggling industry.
With her petite frame, doe-eyes, pageant girl past, and history of modelling assignments (which includes a one-off gig with L’Oreal), it wouldn’t be far off to deem Sangeeta as Malaysia’s answer to international superstar Aishwarya Rai.
After debuting as a child actor in 1986, she took a break from acting to focus on a career as a model and presenter.
Sangeeta eventually polished her acting chops under the tutelage of Faridah Merican and Joe Hasham at Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC), and has since appeared in numerous television and film projects.
Soon to make an even bigger splash in upcoming action flick Goldmine — a local production set to involve veteran Malaysian actor Rosyam Nor — Sangeeta is mostly known for her work in successful local Tamil films such as Vetti Pasanga and Vennira Iravugal.
She also became the first Malaysian actress to appear in a Kollywood (Indian-Tamil) film when she was selected for a supporting role in Venkat Prabhu‘s Goa.
The Daily Seni caught up with the actress recently and was keen on gathering her thoughts as a component of the local film industry.
How would you say your time has been in the Malaysian film landscape?
I’ve been pretty lucky in the industry. I’ve worked with quite a number of good directors since 2009.
Why are local Tamil movies doing so poorly at the Malaysian box office compared to their Kollywood counterparts?
The biggest mistake people often make when looking at local Tamil films is that they make comparisons with movies from India. Even though we are linked to their people, our subcultures are very different. Their filmmaking for example leans towards commercial movies complete with song sequences and a sense of grandeur, which is very different from ours.
What do you think is the area which needs most improvement in local filmmaking?
In Malaysia, the biggest problem we have is writing. We need more good screenplays, and films like Jagat for example is fantastic — it basically portrayed living hell for people in places we don’t see or hear about because we’re sitting here today. When these good movies come out, it’s out of the box compared to other releases. Thankfully, our filmmakers now have been looking more into good screenplays and giving focus to telling stories.
Can you give us an example of a local Tamil film which has gone far?
I won Best Actress at the Malaysian Kalai Ulagam Awards 2015 for local film Vennira Iravugal, a film which first gained attention at the Norway Tamil Film Festival where it took home the Special Jury Award for screenplay. Till today, it’s considered by many to be the benchmark for local Tamil films.
Tell us a bit more about Vennira Iravugal in your own words?
The film is based on a university student at USM who goes looking for the truth behind a strange relationship. She goes looking for him all the way to Myanmar. It was a very Malaysian film in terms of language and culture and many related to it — there’s not much in the movie identifiable with India.
What do you think contributed to the success of Vetti Pasanga?
Vetti Pasanga told the story of kids today who misuse their parents EPF money; irresponsible kids. That did very well because of its subject matter and its portrayal of Malaysian culture on top of showcasing our unique language, there were references to customs like mandi bunga.
How can the people help the local Tamil film industry?
We need people to come out and watch good Malaysian movies, and we need Malaysian Indians to tell us you could have done better. Malaysians don’t give response or feedback — they just choose not to see a film if they think they won’t like something about it. But there is a market here.