If you're a fan of award-winning Malaysian actress Sangeeta Krishnasamy, you're about to see a whole new side to her as she plays an ambitious, manipulative and self-absorbed editor-in-chief in her latest web sitcom 'How Not To Lose Your Job'.
Sangeeta is most known for her role as schoolteacher Cheryl Ann Fernando in 'Adiwiraku', a role that won her best actress at the 2017 Malaysia Film Festival.
She also won two other awards for the role in - an Anugerah Skrin Award and The Kuala Lumpur Film Critics Award.
Her role in the web sitcom
“JJ is one of those girls lah. One of those Paris Hilton kind of girls. She has all the qualities of a 21st century woman, very driven but she’s also very self absorbed. She thinks very highly of herself and I thought that it was something that I could explore.”
“For the first time in my life, I hated my character. Ya, I hated her so much that I enjoyed playing her,” Sangeeta laughed when speaking to Rojak Daily
'HNTLYJ' follows the adventures of the employees at a small publishing house who discover that they could possibly be retrenched, but decide to do all they can to keep the company afloat.
“It was so weird for me to explore that side of a character that I’ve never done before. She’s the bad and good in the sitcom.
“I also love things that challenge me. Mostly I have been cast in roles where I’m a good person, I’m helping others and in some ways, it kind of matches me as a person. But I would like to explore different things. I like to keep it versatile,” she said.
Bring the wig on
Sangeeta also sports a chic bob in the series, a prop that she says helped her transform into the character.
“You know actors, right? The moment we change into certain clothes, we become that person.
“For me it was the wig. The moment I put on the wig, I was able to snap my fingers and turn into Miss JJ,” she said.
Enjoying playing the outrageous character (maybe a little too much), Sangeeta said that she was actually afraid that she would bring some of Miss JJ’s characteristics home.
“Thankfully I didn’t . My boyfriend would be ‘what the hell’, she’s such a pain in the ass, she’s so full of herself,” said Sangeeta while laughing heartily.
Speaking of her on-set experience, Sangeeta said that it was one of the most enjoyable ones that she’s had.
“Everybody enjoyed their character so much,” she said.
In fact, the cast are still good friends even after the shoot ended.
Sangeeta said that the bond they shared could be due to the environment that they shot in.
“For some reason, the weather had become really bad (super hot) and we were shooting in a place with faulty air conditioning.
"The whole thing was put together at a very short period of time so I suppose they had to make do,” she said, while explaining that she was not complaining and working in less than ideal conditions was just part of the job.
“The reason I’m sharing this is because conditions like this bring people together. We were buying drinks for each other, sharing ice packs and we bonded."
“They still call me Miss JJ and I call them by their character names too, Hup Hee and Lola and the rest,” she said.
Giving her all
Despite not playing a serious role in 'HNTLYJ', Sangeeta still put her in her best effort in projecting the character.
When asked if she's viewed any of the episodes yet, Sangeeta said she "she just can't".
"I do not watch my own work. I feel some level of narcissism to it. I mean, I admire people who can do it and perhaps if I did watch my work, that would help me, but I cannot."
"Even when they have shot a scene, and they invite everyone to watch the playback, I will be the only individual standing facing everybody who is watching the monitor and I will be watching their reactions. If I get compliments from people watching it, then my job is done," she said.
Sangeeta also explained that she personally felt that watching herself on screen would compromise her acting.
"I will be wary of how I look, how my hair is and all those things you know. So its one of the things that I don’t do," she said.
A tummy-tickling experience
As for the characters and the sitcom itself, Sangeeta said that the whole thing was hilarious.
"It's nothing like you've seen on TV. For one, my character Miss JJ is an absolute nutter, and I had enjoyed playing her, and I'm sure viewers will enjoy watching her too," she said.
When asked about her favourite character in the sitcom, Sangeeta promptly replied: "All of them!"
"Because JJ is the epicentre, I had scenes with everybody, and it was seriously hilarious working with them.
"Lola would just lie with a straight face, AM Fansuri who is basically the male version of Miss JJ, Amu with her wise words and the way she speaks and there was Charles and his drama and Hup Hee who reminds me of Sheldon from 'The Big Bang Theory' because he's OCD and always paranoid," she said.
Admitting that she usually finds it hard to remember the characters once the project has ended, Sangeeta said that it was hard to forget this bunch because "it was so much fun".
"I hope it goes on to Season 2. In fact, let's just go on for 10 seasons," she laughed.
The MCO experience
On her experience of staying at home during the Movement Control Order, Sangeeta said that she has accepted it.
"I think I’ve settled into the whole MCO idea because the idea and from the beginning, I’ve never complained. It's simple, we’re risking other people's lives when we go out. It's the selfless thing to do. You save other people by not going out."
"It also gave me time for self-reflection. This is the time to think about all those things that we complained about. We have no time for that, for this. I have thought about the things that I want to do in the film industry, including writing and I also managed to read the things that I wanted to," she said.
Ever the giver, Sangeeta also joined several NGOs to cook meals for the needy, feeds several strays near her house and organises social media live sessions to get people to stay at home.
On top of everything, Sangeeta also speaks up about mental health and reaching out to friends in trouble via her social media channels.
"I think we’re all in this together. Instead of directing people to a helpline, I think we should all become people that people can turn to, and that starts with being kind. Kind words or a kind post. We should adopt a lifestyle where we’re more kind and not vile to people," she said.
A Sri Lankan film and a thriller in the works
While most projects are being put on hold due to the MCO, Sangeeta said that she is looking forward to when she can start working again.
"I have been signed on for a Kollywood project. A Malaysian-Sri Lankan movie but it has been put on hold because of insurance matters due to the MCO," she said.
"Apart from that, I am working on a few scripts, but we can't do anything now. I also have a crime thriller coming up with Astro. We should be shooting that soon.
"I am also working on a project where I will be putting together a short web series on an actors life - behind the scenes, how to get into the industry and all that," she said.
It sounds like Sangeeta has loads on her plate, and as fans, we cannot wait to see her on the big screen again.
As for right now, if you need to get your Sangeeta fix, you can watch Episode 1
and Episode 2
of 'How Not To Lose Your Job'.
The episodes are released on a weekly basis and you can catch it on Rojak Daily
, every Monday at 9pm.