Singer, songwriter and actor Phraveen Arikiah is a rising name in the Malaysian theatre scene.
In 2016, the 28-year-old was involved in a stage production called A New Musical by Liver & Lung Productions which won him the Innovation in Musical Theatre award at the 14th BOH Cameronian Arts Awards.
He also completed a year-long actor’s residency with The KL Shakespeare Players in 2018 where he performed Shakespeare Demystified: Romeo & Juliet and A Tale That Must Be Told: Macbeth.
His performance as Ben in the musical Parallel garnered him the Best Male Lead Actor award in the 2016 Short + Sweet Musical Malaysia festival.
He was also cast in CS: The Musical, which won the Best Overall Production Award and Audience Choice Award at the same festival.
Phraveen also enjoys hunting down the best cakes in town, hiking, or simply contemplating the existence of dragons.
Have you always wanted to be a performer?
“I have always enjoyed performing. I was active in debates and stage-based activities in my school days. My first love was music and singing, and later acting.
“I was the only child and my imagination kept me company during my childhood days. Imagination gives you the ability to put yourself in different shoes and experience different lives. But I never dreamed that I would [be performing as a] career.”
What changed your mind?
“It happened in 2010. I was studying [Business Administration] in Hong Kong. In my first semester I made a friend from South Korea who was a pianist and a singer. He heard me sing and encouraged [me].
“I was surprised by his encouragement. In secondary school, my voice was breaking. A few friends even told me that I should stop singing.
“I felt renewed by [my friend’s] compliments. My new friend and I started jamming and singing.
“I enjoyed myself every much. I knew I could not give up what I enjoy.”
When did you decide to perform full time?
“After I returned home from Hong Kong, I worked as a health and medical writer. Later, I became a travel and lifestyle writer. I enjoyed writing. But [it] was not my first passion. I wanted to do something more.
“I was still performing then. In 2015, I decided to become a full-time theatre performer. It is not easy to survive as a full-time theatre performer.
“There are times when you are doing extremely well, and other times when you have to learn to tighten your belt.
“You must learn to manage your finances well. But I have no regrets. I am doing something I love.”
Would you consider acting on the big screen?
“Last year, I acted in my first feature film. But the film has not [been released in] cinemas. I cannot reveal the title yet.
“It is an adaptation of a novel that is set in Malaysia. It is collaboration between a Malaysian production company and [some] international companies. It will be in English.”
Describe your childhood years.
“I grew up in an oil palm plantation in Teluk Intan, Perak. I loved climbing trees as a child.
“My father was a manager at the oil palm plantation. My mother was a kindergarten teacher.
“When I was 13, we moved to Kuala Lumpur. My father started his own business there.
“My parents always reminded me, if you want something, you must work for it. You just can’t wait for things to happen.”
How did your parents react to your career choice?
“They were concerned whether I would make enough to survive. Their concerns were valid.
“They came from a generation of people with a different mindset of what a professional career looks like, and what you need to do to succeed in life.
“But I have showed them I have managed to sustain myself over the last few years.”
Where do you see yourself in five years?
“Still doing theatre. [Even if] I cannot do theatre full time, I still want to do it part-time. I am [also] working towards cutting my first album.
“My philosophy about performing is to remind people what it means to be human again.
“Sometimes we get so caught up with our daily lives that we forget to be human.”