By JAYDEE LOK
IF there is one role that Tengku Iedildzuhrei Putra, 29, could play to perfection, it would be that of a doctor. Why? Because besides being an extremely versatile peformer, the actor – better known as Iedil Putra – did actually study medicine before deciding to switch his career path.
“I actually went to the UK to study medicine for about three years,” said Iedil with a chuckle.
Bitten by the stage bug at a young age, Iedil chose to pursue his degree at Queen Mary University in London to be closer to the West End theatre scene. That was when he realised his true calling in life.
“I realised I can’t do medicine; it’s not my thing. My passion lies in performing arts,” he said.
That was when he decided to quit med school, return to Malaysia and begin his career as an entertainer.
Iedil’s face lights up when he talks about his career and various projects. After seven years of pursuing his passion full-time, Iedil has done numerous stage productions, films, television shows, voiceover work as well as some hosting gigs. He’s even directed a play, and he occasionally organises events.
The actor is probably best known regionally for playing the role of Hafiz in the Instant Café Theatre production Parah – a play about racial tensions in multi-cultural Malaysia.
The powerful production has allowed Iedil and his co-stars to travel to Singapore and Australia (twice) in the last three years.
“The end goal is, of course, to perform outside Malaysia – to be ‘out there’. It’s all about raising your standards. We’ve tried everything here among our peers, and now it’s time to go the next level.”
On that note, Iedil has pointed out that the performing arts industry in Malaysia still has many shortcomings.
“I’m quite sure people know, in general, that if you do theatre, it’s all passion-based,” he explained.
“There’s not a lot of money going around and you always want to compare yourself in Malaysia to how it’s done in places like Singapore and the UK.
“Of course, the problem in Malaysia is that they look at the industry as second or third tier. They don’t take us seriously. Even though, every year, we supposedly receive funding and all that, but you don’t know where they channel all the money.”
Iedil also noted that the Malaysian theatre industry lacks a professional union to protect the rights of its workers, and that there aren’t enough skilled technical crew in the local entertainment scene.
“We’re not up to Hollywood standards in terms of the production. We have talents (like the actors), but we also need proper management. For example, we don’t have courses on becoming a location manager.”
He also talked about the lack of professionalism within the industry and how actors who are not represented by a manager or agent sometimes have to put on a front to protect themselves.
“It’s the attitude. (Many people) don’t take us and our contracts seriously,” he said. “It’s hard to do the dirty work. There’s a lot of going back and forth on wanting to act and do your work and also chasing payment. But it’s hard to say no to all these projects because this is what I do for a living.”
But it’s not like Iedil is one to stand back and allow himself to be mistreated. He and some of his friends have been proactive and have started their own production company, Playground Productions.
“We realised that sometimes we need to create our own opportunities by creating our own shows, going into corporate events, writing, directing and producing stuff. That way, if I don’t have any jobs, I can still sustain my career.”
Sometimes, art imitates life, and currently, Iedil and some of his famous friends like director Nik Amir Mustapha and actor Redza Minhat (both worked on local film KIL) are working on a feature film called Terbaik Dari Langit (originally called Bikin Filem), about four good friends coming together to make a movie. The movie is targeted to release in September.
Although Iedil comes across as this confident superstar with natural talent, he doesn’t see himself that way.
“I still get the butterflies when I’m about to go on stage and cringe when I see myself on screen but it’s good. It keeps you on your toes. As a performing artist you cannot be complacent and comfortable with yourself. You need to evolve.”
In Iedil Putra’s latest movie Cuak is currently showing in selected theatres nationwide.
You can also catch his solo performance in White Rabbit Red Rabbit on Thursday, at 8.30pm at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPac), Selangor. For more information, go to dpac.com.my.