HBO Asia premieres first made-in-Singapore comedy series

(from left) Haresh Tilani, Alaric Tay, Carla Dunareanu and Alan Wong. — Picture courtesy of HBO AsiaSINGAPORE, Sept 16 — Ex-MTV VJ Alan Wong once sent a romantic, mushy email to his boss instead of the girl he was dating at the time.

“They had the same first name and that’s going to get you. The first Emily is not always the right Emily.

“I was devastated. It’s that moment where you think: ‘Wow, there is nothing I can do to undo that’,” said the 32-year-old actor, who stars in HBO Asia’s first ever comedy drama series, Sent.

It was the “type of private conversation you would have only with your significant other”, Wong said, but declined to reveal more.

Wong’s email mishap is not far from the premise of the new HBO comedy drama series Sent – a story of a meek office worker who writes hundreds of spiteful emails to whoever crosses him. One day, he accidentally sends them all out. Wong plays the lead character’s best friend, Max.

The lead role is played by YouTube star Haresh Tilani, 33, who co-founded YouTube channel Ministry of Funny. The eight-episode half-hour series was filmed entirely in Singapore with an ensemble cast. Besides Tilani and Wong, Adrian Pang, Tanglin actress Roz Pho and Carla Dunareanu also star in the series.

It was directed and co-produced by local actor Alaric Tay, who is best known for his role on Channel 5 comedy series The Noose.

“Everything in life these days is changing so rapidly – the way we commute, eat, shop with the help of technology. Getting into a tech mishap is something I can totally relate to,” said Tay.

On making the transition to the silver screen, Tilani said: “It was my first acting gig outside of YouTube and I had to learn a lot of (technical) things,” he said. “YouTube is more forgiving of production quality and the expectations are not so high, which is perfect for just getting yourself out there. But television is better for deeper stories.”

Having to take his hands off other aspects of production was another challenge, given how accustomed he had grown to writing, shooting, acting, editing and producing videos for his channel.

“There was pressure but it was a nice fire under my a** to make sure I don’t (mess) up … It was a challenge I was really looking forward to,” said Tilani.

He added: “Given the global climate about minority actors not getting enough airtime, I’m also super proud that HBO Asia were proactive and progressive enough to cast a minority lead and build the story around him which you don’t see very often.”

And when asked if audiences would see more of him in future television series or feature films, Tilani’s response was a resounding: “Hell yeah!”

However, he noted, he does not have any television or film projects firmed up yet. He added that he was open to opportunities and would like to work on “stuff that travels the world and to make a name not just locally but internationally”. — TODAY

Sent will premiere exclusively on HBO (Starhub TV Channel 601). Two episodes will air back-to-back tomorrow (Sept 17) at 9pm. The first episode will also be available online for free on HBO Asia’s website (http://hboasia.com) from Sept 18 to 24.