“I DIDN’T expect to be nominated, what more to win such a coveted award,” said the 29th Malaysian Film Festival (FFM 29) Best Actress Sangeeta Krishnasamy, beaming with pride as she held her trophy close to her chest.
Sangeeta, 31, who has been starring in a string of Tamil productions for the past seven years, regarded this as her biggest win to date.
The FFM 29 Best Film, Adiwiraku, which earned her the award, marked her first venture into mainstream cinema, and despite being a newcomer, she made it to the top five of the Best Actress category.
Being up against crowd favourites like Sharifah Amani, who starred in Pekak, Izara Aishah (J Revolusi), June Lojong (Redha) and Yeo Yann Yann (You Mean The World To Me) made Sangeeta’s victory all the more sweet — the cast and crew called her a “giant killer”.
In Adiwiraku, Sangeeta played real-life teacher Cheryl Ann Fernando, who made English interesting for her slow-learning students, and helped them form a choral speaking team which made it to a district-level competition.
Being a former teacher, Sangeeta was delighted when producer Jason Chong cast her as Cheryl.
She wasted no time preparing herself by spending time with Cheryl and the students of SMK Pinang Tunggal, in Sungai Petani, Kedah, who made up her 35-member team.
“I was so honoured to meet and play Cheryl. She’s a dedicated teacher who loves and nurtures her students, despite facing tremendous difficulties.
“As for the students, they gave their best and were their natural selves throughout the month-long shoot. We became best buddies and this has rekindled my love for teaching!” said Sangeeta, who spent two months teaching underprivileged youth in the Klang Valley.
A major mishap, however, befell Sangeeta on the set — she contracted dengue fever and had to be hospitalised for a week.
She recovered and completed her task — earning the admiration of Chong, director Eric Ong, and the students.
“Even though I was weak, I was determined to wrap up this story. As soon as the doctors released me, I worked twice as hard to complete the remaining scenes, including a painful and emotional one where Cheryl’s favourite pupil died.”
Sangeeta, a law graduate, has starred in eight Tamil films and a dozen television shows, and won Best Actress in the Malaysia Kalai Ulagam Awards 2015 for the movie Vennira Iravuggal, and the telemovie, Unarvu.
A fan of actress Fauziah Ahmad Daud, Sangeeta finds acting satisfying as she gets to portray characters that are different from her real self. Now that she is an FFM winner, she hopes to star in more Malay films.
“I love films which are inspiring and honest, in particular stories which have protagonists who defy the odds,” she said, adding that her win was a timely recognition of her hard work.
“I’ll always be grateful to Jason and Eric for giving me my big break.
“We all share a love of everyday heroes,” said the Kuala Lumpur-born who is open to star in other genres, including comedies.