SINGAPORE - He scored 4As at the A-level examinations last year.
But unlike his peers, who applied for prestigious universities like Oxford and Stanford, Mr Shrey Bhargava (left) is heading for drama school.
Never mind that many of his schoolmates - who are from Raffles Institution's International Baccalaureate programme - are aiming for illustrious careers in law and engineering.
The 19-year-old Singaporean, who came here from India when he was a year old, speaks enthusiastically about his passion for drama and theatre.
"When I'm on stage, I live in the present, in that moment.
"What's the use of earning so much money, if you're not happy doing what you do?" he says, adding that his parents are supportive of him pursuing this path.
His dream is to land a leading part in a Bollywood film.
He wants to prove his friends, who think that Bollywood movies are all about dancing around trees, wrong.
"Yes, there are some Bollywood films that are over the top and those which play on cliches, but there are some really good ones too.
"They are musical films which can provide meaningful, even thought-provoking entertainment," explains Mr Bhargava, who is fluent in Hindi.
Beyond the glamour, however, lies a deeper reason for his desire to act in an Indian film - his grandparents.
"They are in their 60s and both live in India. They haven't been to any of my theatre performances or school plays.
"So it would really be cool if they could catch me on screen," he says.
It is a distant dream, considering the vast population of India. And Mr Bhargava concedes this, even with his list of accolades.
The aspiring actor bagged the best actor award at Raffles Institution's drama festival three years in a row - from 2010 to 2012 - along with the best director award last year.
He is looking forward to auditioning for a range of drama schools in US and the UK once he completes national service.
His dream school is private conservatory The Juilliard School, located in New York.
Founded in 1905, the school has produced alumni who have collectively won 47 Emmys and 24 Oscars, among others.
Last year, it accepted only 6.7 per cent of the 2,854 student hopefuls.
"It's very tough to get in but I'm going to try anyway," he says.
"For me, acting is about exploring people with different backgrounds... being a tool for the characters and giving voice to the voiceless.
"Being on stage gives me a sense of contentment, especially when people tell me they've enjoyed the production and found it a source of stress relief," he says.
This article was published on April 20 in The New Paper.
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