Cover Photo: Anand Menon

Why the award-winning Malaysian actress is thrilled for her titular role in the upcoming international action crime series, I Am Vash, alongside Bront Palarae

Many Malaysians may know her from her critically-acclaimed performance in the 2017 film Adiwiraku and her role in 2018 film Rise: Ini Kalilah, but Sangeeta Krishnasamy is about to go global. 

In October this year, the award-winning Malaysian actress landed the lead role in the international crime series I Am Vash, to be directed by Adrian Teh and co-produced by London-based company 108 Media and Malaysian production house Revolution Media. In the eight-part series –which is set in 1970s Malaysia and inspired by actual events–Sangeeta plays Vash, a gutsy policewoman who battles societal prejudices and pressures as she works tirelessly to take down a notorious gang leader in the biggest case of her career.

Starring alongside Bront Palarae who will play Vash's partner, Rahman, Sangeeta is thrilled to take on a plum role that showcases a female protagonist from an ethnic minority. With production for I Am Vash slated for the second quarter of 2022 for an early 2023 release, Sangeeta tells Tatler how she's been preparing and the A-list celebs and directors she hopes to work with in the future.    

How did you land the lead role in I Am Vash?

I met Justin Diemen, the producer, at the ASEAN International Film Festival not too long ago, and we got to talking about creating scripts based on powerful female protagonists. But then we kind of left it at that. He called me last year saying that he was excited to be putting together I Am Vash. I was very keen because it was based on a real-life character and real case files.

What is it about Vash's character that stands out for you? 

The fact that she's a woman from an ethnic minority who leads the series. We don’t see enough powerful female lead roles here in Malaysia, especially women of ethnic minorities. There’s a lot of history attached to the script, which is interesting to explore, and I’m honoured to learn from it. The series is set in the '70s, a time when it must have been challenging for a woman to be in the position that she was; a time when the police forces were dominated by men. 

Related: 5 Netflix K-Dramas With Kick-Ass Female Leads

Will this be the most demanding role you've ever taken on?

I think Vash will be both physically and emotionally challenging. There’s a lot of preparation that I need to do in terms of working on the body language of a police woman. She’s a trained officer and kicks ass (laughs). And like I’ve always believed, characters that are based on real-life heroes are the most challenging.

All the roles I’ve played so far have been a big challenge because my internal critic can be very loud and intense.

What are you most excited for when production for I Am Vash starts next year?

The fact that they are going to recreate the '70s! I can’t wait to see and experience that. And, I get to kick some criminal butt and walk around in police boots.  

Is it true that you considered quitting acting early in your career? 

Yes, it's true but then Adiwiraku came along and I threw my hands up in the air with tears in my eyes and said ‘I have to do this, I must meet the kids!’. I grew up watching movies that inspired me to become a better person, learning to be kind to people who are different. When I became an actor, I naturally expected to be doing movies like that. But those kind of movies rarely comes along. I was getting the same type of roles, which was what made me want to quit acting in the first place. 

Is there an actor or director in particular that you'd love to work with?

I’d love to work with Viola Davis—it may sound far-fetched, but a girl can dream. As for a Malaysian actor, I’ve always wanted to work with Fauziah Ahmad Daud (fondly known as Kak Ogy). I’d  also love to work with directors like Bong Joon Ho and Christoper Nolan.

What's the most important message you would share with aspiring actresses from minority groups in Malaysia?

Learn as many languages as you can. Work on your brand. Don’t say yes to everything –you need to know exactly what your strengths are. Most importantly, no dream is ever too big!  

See also: 18 Film Directors That You Should Know If You're A Fan Of Asian Cinema

What has 2021 been like for you?

Although it’s been a difficult year, it's much easier than 2020. I found ways to handle my anxiety effectively. I also got to reconnect with my hobbies, namely baking, painting and gardening.

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