Cinema

Uthama(n) villain

Harish Uthaman in Rekka  

The newest baddie in Kollywood, Harish Uthaman, is fresh from playing villain against Vijay Sethupathi in Rekka. He’s next working with Vijay in Bhairava. For someone whose entry into Kollywood was an accident, his career graph has witnessed a steady rise. He has now completed 22 films across Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam cinema. Films like Thani Oruvan, Srimanthudu and Krishna Gaadi Veera Prema Gaadha have been instrumental in bringing him to the forefront. Excerpts from a chat with the new villain in town:

On your accidental entry into Tamil cinema...

I was a cabin crew member working for British Airways. About seven years back, director RK Surya Prabhakar met me and convinced me to do a minor role in his debut film, Thaa. I reluctantly agreed, and to my surprise, it turned out to be a major role. I realised that I enjoyed facing the camera. I had taken five months off work to do the film, but sadly, it released two years later and due to heavy rains, went out of the theatre in barely three days. But I was encouraged that it was selected for screening at the Norway Tamil Film Festival in 2011. In a way, it motivated me to quit my job and concentrate on films.

How did you start landing negative characters?

Radha Mohan, who happened to see Thaa, offered me my first villain role in Gouravam. After seeing the trailer of Gouravam, Suseenthiran offered me a negative role in Pandiya Naadu. This led to a character role in Yagavarayinum Naa Kaakka. Soon, I was getting offers from Telugu cinema too. And then, Thani Oruvan happened and everything changed. Mohan Raja brought me in after enjoying my performance in Pandiya Naadu. And then, I did Paayum Puli and Thodari.

Do you like playing these negative characters?

Initially, I decided to focus on character roles, but as I got more offers for negative roles, I guess I’ve started enjoying playing them. I am afan of Raghuvaran; he’s a great inspiration. Even in Telugu films, I’m being given a lot of negative roles.

What was it like to play villain against Vijay Sethupathi?

I think he truly deserves his title, Makkal Selvan. Everybody loves him, and the way he respects people on the sets is worth learning from. He is a fantastic artist, and I gained a lot of knowledge from the exposure. I noticed that he has the habit of discussing every scene with the artists and director. I think this method helps even ordinary scenes come out better.

Any particularly memorable experiences in Rekka?

The action scene in the climax! Vijay Sethupathi, Kabir Singh and I keep hitting each other continuously as part of the scene. All of us got injured, but we did not let that delay the shooting. Vijay Sethupathi, in fact, takes great caution to protect everybody involved in a stunt scene. I remember that he had donated his prize money from Neengalum Vellalam Oru Kodi to stunt men.

Are you a believer in preparatory work for the roles you play?

Not really. I prefer to go with a blank mind, and trust the director’s inputs and guidance. I improvise on the spot. Take, for example, in Thodari, where I play a person with a mental disorder. With the guidance of Prabhu Solomon, I played it on the spot in a way that the audience would be fearful of me. Rathina Shiva, the director of Rekka, is a brilliant actor himself, and so, I simply had to follow his instructions. What I do focus a lot on though is my fitness.

You must be thrilled about landing Bhairava?

I play a character role in the film, not a villain. Working with Vijay has been learning experience. He comes across as a humble person.

You speak great Tamil.

I am a Malayalee, born and brought up in Coimbatore. So, I can speak both languages well. I also speak Telugu now.

What’s coming up next?

I am working with Nayantara in her upcoming horror film Dora, directed by A. Sargunam. I will also be working with my favourite director, Suseenthiran, in Maaveeran Kittu, which is based on a real incident that took place in 1987. I have also signed up for Rubai, produced by Prabhu Solomon, and directed by Saattai Anbazhagan.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2020 12:21:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Uthaman-villain/article16076699.ece

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