From Zero To Hero (Singh): Getting To Know Gurmit Singh's New Character

But what's going to happen to Phua Chu Kang?

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From Zero To Hero (Singh): Getting To Know Gurmit Singh's New Character

No time to play-play!

If you were a kid growing up in the 1990s, you would instantly recognise the iconic yellow boots.

Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd was a hit TV series which ran for ten years on the local channels.

During the height of PCK's popularity, Singaporean actor Gurmit Singh became a household name. You could literally say that at the time, he was the best in Singapore, JB and even Batam!

Still the best.
The series ended 11 years ago, and while most of us have moved on, Gurmit is still kicking butts - just not in the famous yellow boots.

Before he takes the stage as his new persona Hero Singh in Malaysia this Thursday (30 August), we managed to catch up with the 53-year-old to ask him about his PCK days and his new pak guard character.

Moving on from Phua Chu Kang

When you mention the name Gurmit Singh, only one thing comes to mind: Phua Chu Kang.

And really, we can't blame people for associating Gurmit with PCK, because the 167-episode TV series was just so big back in the 1990s.

Still the best in Singapore and JB.
For some people, being associated with a single role throughout their entire career can be exhausting and a little bit of an overkill, but not for Gurmit.

He tells us that he's moved on from the role, but he still gets excited when people recognise him as Phua Chu Kang on the streets.

"I feel good! I mean, I take that as a positive thing that he is so successful that many are still seeing me as PCK to date," he says.

Will he ever get sick of being recognised as Phua Chu Kang?

"Nope. I am not sick of PCK or ever will be," he quips.

And then a Hero comes along

If you look at some of TV's greatest characters, like Breaking Bad's Walter 'Heisenberg' White and House Of Cards' Francis Underwood, they are loosely based on certain real-life characters.

Strangely, Gurmit told us that he wasn't inspired by any one when he created the character of Hero Singh.

The idea of playing a Punjabi security guard actually came to him during a business group meeting, he tells us.

Not your practical pak guard.
"It was a group effort, really. I flew in to KL and sat down with the creative team of Popcorn Studios and we started hashing out different kinds of characters that I could play out.

"And then we realised that in my career, I had never played a Punjabi character, strange as it may seem. I have played other races but never my own!

"So, based on that, we started to see what we could do with that," he reveals.

Up to no good, this Hero.Having played an iconic character such as Phua Chu Kang for more than a decade, we assumed that there would be an adjustment period for him to get into his new character.

That wasn't the case, Gurmit says.

"To be honest, and I don’t mean to brag, it was not at all difficult.

"I guess it’s largely because the characters that I play are larger than life and different from each other so when the make up and the wardrobe and paraphenilia are put on, the change becomes very easy in that sense."

Getting to know a Hero

Playing Hero Singh is easy, Gurmit admits, as he says that the character is more of a mashup of different personality traits that they put together in the meeting room.

"At the brainstorming session, creative juices were flowing, people were throwing ideas without worrying about looking stupid. So, in just a few hours we had most of his persona down," he boasts.

Say my name.
Gurmit has been playing Hero Singh for a couple of years now - mostly at stand-up comedy shows like Laugh Die You - and he loves every moment of it.

Well, except for one thing.

"The back arch. I have to purposely arch my back and distend my belly out to give it the beer belly look.

"Maybe one day when I have had enough beer, the belly will be au naturel," he laughs.

What the future holds

Knowing Gurmit would do everything he can to make a character popular (Exhibit A: Phua Chu Kang), he tells us that his aspiration for Hero Singh this time around is simple.

"It’s the same aspiration for all my characters and all my work that I do - that the audience will enjoy them and their day be made just that little better."

Here to entertain.
So, does that mean we can expect more iconic characters from Gurmit Singh?

"They say never say never. I don’t know what the future holds so we will wait and see.

"As long as there are fans who want more from me, then I will persevere to provide the entertainment through different characters."

You can catch Gurmit Singh, local comedian Gajen Nad, Malaysia's very own Mr Bean (Faiket Luari) and Singaporean ventriloquist Joseph the upcoming ‘Laugh Die You: Merdeka Day Special’ this Merdeka eve, 30 August, 8pm at HGH Convention Centre, Kuala Lumpur.

Tickets are still available for sale, but it's going fast, so head on over to Fave's website to grab them now.

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