Teen star Ley Shahrwind Agilan believes in being versatile, writes DENNIS CHUA.
HAVING starred as the son of a villain in popular police television series Gerak Khas, 17-year-old Ley Shahrwind Agilan is looking forward to playing the offspring of a hero in the aptly titled play Hero from Aug 27-31.
Hero, which also stars stage veterans Indi Nadarajah and Anne James, is an Instant Cafe Theatre production directed by Jo Kukathas and Zalfian Fuzi and written by Arun Subramaniam under its Firstworks playwriting banner.
“This is my English theatre debut and I’m excited about it. I’ve always wanted to be an actor, because it’s my ‘chance to be known’,” said Ley, (pronounced ‘Lay’ even though some of his friends call him ‘Lee’).
Ley has been acting since he was six.
Back then he appeared in the Tamil drama Kueumba Sophu. Minor roles in 14 Tamil dramas followed, before Ley appeared in an episode of Gerak Khas.
In 2003, Ley starred in his first English telemovie Tomi Cinta Delia as the son of popular actor Datuk Jalaluddin Hassan.
The eldest of six siblings, Ley of Taman Cuepacs, Jalan Cheras, Kuala Lumpur is the only actor in his family. He is a student of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Perimbun in Kajang and is busy preparing for his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination this year.
“It’s been a balancing act – I study for a few hours every day, but in the last three weeks, it was 10-hour rehearsals on Saturdays and Sundays,” he said, adding that it was not a burden, but a “great, new experience”.
Ley playfully credits his success in “balancing” studies and acting to his dance skills. He is a talented dancer who performs in charity events and also sings.
“I’ve never gone for any dance classes. Just that dancing is a pastime I’ve enjoyed since my pre-teen days,” he said.
In Hero, Ley plays 14-year-old Arjun, the son of a politician who is assassinated.
The play focuses on the anguish suffered by the dead man’s family and his life story is told through the eyes of his wife, his son and the man himself.
The man “refuses to remain silent”, thereby adding to the mystery and illuminating a murder that has gripped not just the Tamil community but also the nation.
As the trio tell their story through dialogue and monologue, flashbacks and present-day events, a sinister and uneasy web forms, linking affairs of state, power, faith and ego.
Ley said: “Arjun is named for Arjuna, the warrior in the Hindu epic Mahabharata. His parents want him to be as brave and virtuous as the warrior himself.
“He’s a complicated boy, but one who dearly loves his parents and has grown a lot since his father’s untimely death.
“I see a little of myself in him, as we are both determined to excel in life, but I’m certainly more mature than him.”
He said while Arjun’s father is the hero of the play, every character is a hero in his or her own right.
Ley is honoured to collaborate with Nadarajah, James and Kukathas, and describes them as great mentors who offered him a lot of guidance.
“They are professionals and I’d love to work with them again,” he said.
Ley’s dream role is to play a villain, either on stage or television. “It’s a great challenge to be someone who is the opposite of me and that’s the greatest test of a successful actor,” he said.
A moviegoer who admires Jessica Alba and Tom Cruise, Ley is also a fan of his co-stars James and Nadarajah as well as Maya Karin, Angelina Tan and Datin Seri Tiara Jacquelina.
“My ambition is to be a gynaecologist, but one who also acts, sings and dances well. It’s great to be versatile because it makes life interesting,” he said.
Hero will be staged at The Actors Studio in Bangsar Shopping Centre, Jalan Maarof, Kuala Lumpur at 8.30pm. There are additional 3pm shows on Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets are priced at RM62, RM42 and RM27 (students and senior citizens). Call 03-2094-0400 or 2094-1400.
New Straits Times