Scoring on stage

KUALA LUMPUR-BORN Abimanyu Masilamani is a man of many talents. The 28-year-old is an actor, singer, songwriter, scriptwriter, and voiceover talent. He has also appeared in various theatre productions, films, television shows and advertisements.

In 2016, his work in the theatre production Sand The Musical earned him the Boh Cameronian Arts Award for Best Performance in A Lead Role.

More recently he received praise for his performance in OlaBola The Musical, where he played goalkeeper Spiderman Muthu. Some fans even commented that he had a voice like Motown legend Stevie Wonder.

Recently, he spoke with theSun about his evolving career.

What was your childhood like?

My dad was a corporate trainer before he retired, and my mom is a housewife. I am their only child. Growing up alone, without siblings, can spark your imagination. You create a world of your own.

How did your singing and acting career begin?

I am a self-taught singer and actor. I’ve loved singing ever since I was young. I am always humming songs.

My grandfather was a musician. He played the accordion, [and] was even in a band. When I was a teenager, I was ‘thrown’ into school plays. I would act, direct, and write scripts.

All these activities have indirectly influenced my love for entertainment.

Did you join the entertainment scene after finishing school?

No. I took a few short courses in IT and became a network engineer. But deep inside, I wanted to be a singer and actor. So, four years ago, I quit my job to focus 100% [on] my singing and acting career.

I knew I was taking a huge risk when I left a stable paying job. But I knew if I did not take this risk, I would live to regret it. I also became a part-time fitness trainer to earn extra income.

Do you remember the first audition you attended?

Yes. It was for the musical called Mud KL. The story centres on three friends of different racial backgrounds – Mamat, Meng, and Muthiah –who came to the big city of Kuala Lumpur to find a better life. They have to go through various obstacles before finding success.

I wanted the role of Muthiah. But I did not pass the audition. A few weeks later the company Enfinity, which auditioned me for Mud KL, called me back and cast me in P. Ramlee The Musical. (Enfinity is also the production company behind OlaBola the Musical.)

Tell us about your future projects.

I will be acting in my first feature film. It’s a horror-thriller about a group of friends who spend a night in a haunted resort.

You have also formed a music band.

It is called Abi & Co. There are four of us in it. We play a fusion of ‘western’ and Indian classical music. We have already produced several English- and Tamil-language singles.

What is your advice for someone who wants to break into the Malaysian entertainment scene?

The journey within the entertainment world is full of challenges. There will be a lot of rejection. But you must learn to deal with the disappointment. You must learn to pick up the pieces, move on, and continue to pursue your dreams.

What is the greatest misconception people have about the local entertainment industry?

People used to tell me that I will [face discrimination] in the Malaysian entertainment scene because of my skin colour. They said [most people] prefer those with fairer skin, so I will be sidelined.

Let me tell you that this is not true. If you are willing to work hard, you will be rewarded. In 2016, I won a Boh Cameronian Arts Award. That is enough to tell you I have not been discriminated against.