12-year-old Indian actor puts the 'boy' in Wayang boy

12-year-old Indian actor puts the 'boy' in Wayang boy

At the age of 12, he already has big dreams.

Wayang Boy actor Denzyl Dharma wants to make it to Hollywood some day.

His inspiration?

Mission: Impossible star Tom Cruise, who is Denzyl's favourite actor.

For this talented local newbie, it might not be just a far-fetched dream.

In new local film Wayang Boy, Denzyl plays a boy from India named Raja who struggles to adjust to his new home in Singapore and finds himself getting interested in the art of Chinese opera.

Not only does Denzyl speak Mandarin in the film, he also sings Peking opera songs.

The Primary 6 student at Gan Eng Seng Primary School has been studying Chinese as a second language since he was in nursery.

He had told tabla!, a weekly newspaper for Indian readers, that he chose Chinese to learn something different since he could easily pick up Telugu and Hindi from his parents.

His father is a vice-president at a software firm while his mother is a beautician who runs two salons.

Without prior acting experience, Denzyl first landed a role in short film Wa Is For Wayang in 2010.

Wayang Boy, which opens here tomorrow, is an extension of the short film.

The family comedy also stars veteran Hong Kong actors Law Kar Ying and Michelle Yim, Taiwanese actress Chantel Liu and local artists like Kym Ng, Chua Enlai and Bobby Tonelli.

Was it tough learning Chinese opera?

I didn't even know what Chinese opera was before Wa Is For Wayang. That was my first time. In this movie, I had to learn to use a stick in some scenes. But once I got used to it, it was okay.

How did your classmates react to you being in such a movie?

They learnt (about it) only recently when a classmate found a newspaper article on me and showed it to the others. Some praised me and said it was "so cool" that I had the opportunity. Some also teased me.

How proficient are you in Mandarin?

Maybe only 50 per cent? Just average. I speak in Mandarin only with my friends or on my own when I was preparing for the role. I'm also learning French, but it's more difficult than Mandarin.

You are heavily involved in other activities. What else do you do and which is your favourite?

Taekwondo, inline skating, dancing and singing. My favourite is singing because it has the power to change my mood. When I'm sad, I sing happy songs. But I'm too shy to sing for a role.

What do you see yourself doing when you grow up?

My No. 1 ambition is to be an actor, followed by a doctor and an engineer.

ashikinr@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Nov 12, 2014.
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