Hard work, luck and looks shot former lighting technician Adi Putra to acting stardom.
SINGAPORE-BORN actor Adi Putra might be a marquee name in the television and movie industry today but his start in the entertainment scene was less than glamorous.
A former Pizza Hut delivery boy, 7-Eleven employee and air-conditioning technician, his first full-time job after completing national service was as a lighting technician for Singapore MediaCorp’s Chinese television serials.
His days as the lowly crew guy on a film set charged with making stars such as Fann Wong and Christopher Lee look good are long gone.
With a decade’s worth of acting experience and more than 30 television dramas and over a dozen films to his name, the 32-year-old is now hot property in the entertainment scene in Malaysia.
Adi, who shuttles between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, now leads the lifestyle of an actor who has made good. He shares a terrace house in Ulu Klang with his producer wife Aida Yusof, 38, and four cars – three BMWs and a Satria Neo – are parked in the garage.
You could attribute his success to a combination of hard work, luck and good timing. His handsome looks helped too.
In 2003, he joined a beauty contest organised by a Singaporean Malay lifestyle and entertainment magazine Manja and was crowned Mr Photogenic.
Acting came by chance. While working at MediaCorp, producer friends asked him to be an extra in television shows on Malay station Suria.
After that, he was offered his first major acting role as a gym instructor in Anak Metropolitan 2, a popular television drama centred on wayward teenagers.
His performance led to his nomination in the Most Promising Actor category at a Singaporean Malay entertainment awards ceremony Pesta Perdana in 2004 and another role in comedy drama Cinta Bollywood 2.
Then came the turning point in his life. Producer, director and actress Erma Fatima offered him a major role in Malaysian television drama Haryati 2.
Sensing the opportunity to make his mark on the much larger Malay acting industry across the Causeway, the 23-year-old Adi packed his bags and left for Kuala Lumpur.
After shooting was done in three months, he decided to stick around and try to break into the competitive entertainment industry in Malaysia.
The going was tough. He lived on the money he earned from Haryati 2 and when funds ran low, he slept on the streets, in mosques and at homes of friends.
Slowly, he started getting acting jobs and within two years, he became a familiar face in the industry there.
Looking back, he says: “It was a risky gamble and I knew that there were no guarantees that I would get more jobs after the first drama. But I firmly believed that my future was there in the Malaysian acting industry.”
Today, he plays mainly leading roles in popular television soaps on Malaysian TV.
He is a box-office draw on the silver screen too. He stars in Malaysia’s highest grossing film, 2011’s gangster flick KL Gangster, which earned RM12mil. (The film also stars another Singapore-born actor who has made it big in Malaysia, Aaron Aziz.)
Naturally, Adi is in the follow-up, KL Gangster 2, which made headlines after pirates uploaded the film on the Internet and sold bootleg DVD copies a month before it screened in cinemas in October last year.
His leading role in Langgar, a crime movie released in April last year, earned him a nomination in the Best Male Film Actor category in Anugerah Skrin. He lost to Malaysian actor Shaheizy Sam.
Being a star means that his personal life is constantly in the spotlight.
In 2012, the Malaysian press went to town when they found out that he had filed for divorce. He retracted it shortly after.
He also made the news in September when a Malaysian businessman lodged a police report against him, accusing Adi of sending lewd pictures and text messages to his 30-year-old wife.
Adi says that he cannot comment on the case because it is still under police investigation but he will speak about it once the Malaysian police have concluded their findings.
He admits that he and his wife, whom he married in 2006, had “personal problems” in the past, but adds that their marriage today has never been better. They got married in April that year, six months after meeting on the set of a television drama Kerana Dosa Kelmarin which Aida was producing.
She says: “Some people might think six months is quick, but I felt like we had known each other for years. He had all the qualities that I admired, he was hardworking, disciplined and a good Muslim. I knew he was the one for me.”
The couple has a daughter.
He sounds exasperated when he refers to tabloid stories about him. “I always get asked, how is your marriage? My wife and I, we just go through our daily lives and we don’t let all the talk and gossip affect us.”
Aida says that Adi is very much a family man and a doting father.
“He’s always concerned about the baby, what she’s eating, how she’s doing, even while he’s at work. And if the baby cries in the middle of the night, he wakes up to feed her.”
Sometimes, he cooks at home, whipping up dishes such as mee goreng and sardin sambal, which he had learnt when he was a teen helping out in his technician father’s sideline catering business.
Asked if she has ever had issues with him having plenty of female fans or the gossip linking him to many of his onscreen love interests, Aida responds with a laugh: “I’m in the entertainment business too, so I’m immune to all the attention that he gets. And I don’t get jealous when he’s acting in love scenes with other actresses because he’s just doing his job.”
Adi is not content with being a heart-throb actor and has ambitions to make it behind the camera.
Last year, he formed his own production house, Nur ADP, and took on triple roles – as producer, co-director and lead actor in the film adaptation of the best-selling religious drama novel Suami Aku Ustaz set to be released this year.
He knows that having long-term success in the Malaysian entertainment industry means branching out into more than just acting.
“KL Gangster might be the most profitable movie in Malaysia but I was just an actor in that film. If I was the producer, then I would have more reason to celebrate its success.”
He has also invested in non-entertainment business ventures in Singapore and Malaysia, chief among them the bathroom products brand Tuscani and Islamic tourism agency Al-Qaswa.
Despite his packed schedule, Adi, who has an older sister, 41, and an older brother, 40, always sends a text message to his mother, Noor Banoo Khan, or talks to her at least once a day.
“He always keeps me updated on what he’s up to, whether he’s in the middle of a shoot or busy on some other project,” says the 62-year-old housewife.
The doting mother has watched all his movies and television dramas. “I am thankful to God that my son is successful in his career. One thing about Adi, when his mind is set on something, he works hard to get it.” – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network