Local actor based in Malaysia wants to prove he's not just a pretty face

15 January 2014 / 2 years 9 months ago

This year, home-grown actor and host Shah Iskandar Mahfuz - better known as Shah Iskandar - has two wishes.

One: To do away with comparisons to Adi Putra or Aaron Aziz, and find his own brand.

Two: To prove that he is "not just a pretty face".

As one of the handful of Singapore-born actors carving a name for themselves in Malaysia, it is inevitable that the 32-year-old is often linked to Adi and Aaron, who have soared in popularity with movies like KL Gangster.

For Shah, who considers himself still a "junior" in the Malaysian industry compared to Adi and Aaron, having his name mentioned in the same breath as his colleagues is motivation to excel.

"I look up to them and I know I have a long way to go before I reach their level of success," he told The New Paper.

"Anyone's goal is to go as far as they can. I don't want to be like them per se, but I'm sure it's okay to say I aim to be even better.

"All in the name of healthy competition, right?"

He is poised to do just that this year, with a spot on the list for a major Malaysian acting award alongside Adi and Aaron, as well as a new drama.

Shah got his break in Singapore after coming in the Top 6 in Suria's hosting and acting competition, Anugerah Skrin, in 2006.

After a few years of hosting and acting gigs here, he packed his bags for Kuala Lumpur in 2009.

While newbies often try to bank on star-making turns in the action or horror genres, which are lucrative in the Malaysian market, Shah goes for a diverse range of roles.

In new drama Jika Itu Takdirku, which also stars Malaysian actress Intan Ladyana, he plays a playboy who meets with an accident and loses his memory.

The 24-episode series will air next month on TV3.

Shah said of his role: "By far, it is the most challenging thing I have ever done because it is 'heavy'. I need to tap on my emotions a lot and that is hard because I am usually happy-go-lucky."

Shah has also played an abusive, cheating husband in drama series Teduhan Kasih (2013) and took on two characters in the successful drama Atas Nama Cinta (2012).

Other roles include businessman Hadi Herwan in Fira Ayuni last year and Inspektor Hisham in Gerak Khas, the drama that kick-started his career in Malaysia in 2008.

"Different folks, different strokes. Every artist has a vision of what they are inclined towards, like Aaron and action films," he said.

"I want to take on as many roles as I can to prepare for the different demands of the market. I'm still searching for what I like and am better at. I'm searching for my niche."

His work last year earned him a spot in the early nomination stages for Pelakon TV Lelaki (Best Male TV Actor) in this year's Anugerah Bintang Popular Berita Harian in Malaysia.

The winners will be announced on Apr 6.

Last year, he was nominated in the Artis Baru Lelaki Popular (Most Popular New Male Actor) category, but lost out to Malaysian actor Aiman Hakim Redza

Shah's growing popularity has its downside.

He finds it hard to avoid controversial gossip, especially relating to his love life since he claimed he has not been involved with anyone.

Last October, he made headlines when his mushy text messages to Malaysian actress Diana Nasir made rounds on the web.

Diana's sister and actress Anzalna had shared the message in a fit of anger towards the actor for apparently toying with her sister's feelings.

But Shah insisted that their friendship is platonic while Diana publicly suggested that they were romantically involved.

Shah said: "These things happen to everyone, but it was blown out of proportion because of my status as an artist. I just immersed myself in work."

He still considers Diana a friend, but they have not spoken since the incident.

Shah, who describes himself as extremely private, explained: "There could have been something if she had not made it public.

"Personal matters should remain private or it stops being special. It's a turn-off and just not my cup of tea."

Gossips aside, Shah also struggles in dividing his time between work and his family in Singapore.

He goes home every one or two months, but he can go up to six months without seeing his family.

This year, Shah hopes to spend more time with his family - his mother and his two siblings who live in a five-room flat in Woodlands.

When asked if it had anything to do with a recent Harian Metro report that said his mother is suffering from cancer, Shah said: "Now you're stepping into my personal space. I'd rather not talk about it.

"My mum is sick, anyone's mum can be sick. I just want to spend more time with my family, both with her and my siblings.

"She was quite upset when she heard about the story and I feel bad about it."

Shah said his mother is doing fine and that his siblings - a 26-year-old sister and a 19-year-old brother - are taking good care of her.

Shah said: "Life is good. I couldn't ask for more. But if more good things were to come, it'll be even better."

Join in the talk