50 years in cinedom, 60 years in stage ... that's not a small achievement for any actor. Our own Umesh fondly known as Umeshanna has achieved the rare feat from Kannada film industry. Umesh entered stage just when he was four and from then he has acted in hundreds of plays and films.
Recently he has turned Kamal Hassan of sorts by enacting the role of a grandmother in 'Venkata in Sankata' directed by Ramesh. Chitraloka.com chats with the veteran artiste about his experienes, past and future in the film industry.
Q. Tell us something about your role in 'Venkata in Sankata'?
A. I play a role of grandmother in the movie. I had played a similar role earlier when I was in stage. After a long gap, Ramesh gave me a similar kind of role. I have even shaved my head for the role. The role was quite difficult and Ramesh gave me all independence to potray that character. It was a very challenging one because, whoever sees my role musn't see me in that, but the grandmother herself. I have potrayed it as much as I can. Everybody liked my potrayal of the role and has applauded me for that.
Don't you think supporting artistes are not getting adequate roles?
A. That's right. In other languages, they project the artistes more than anything else. But here due to some reasons, only heros nor the heroines get projected most of the times. Actually speaking, it was not difficult for me to become an actor. Difficulty started only after I became an artiste.
Q. You said becoming an actor was not at all a big deal. Tell us something about how easy was it for you to get selected for your first movie?
A. Puttanna Kanagal was the associate director of 'Makkala Rajya'. As the title itself suggests,
it was a childrens film. At that time, I was a stage artiste. Puttanna Kanagal came in search of a boy. Someone suggested my name to him. He was impressed by my acting and asked me whether I was interested in films. That's how I got into films. Puttanna took me to Madras in the year 1959. The 'Makkala Rajya' team gave me a rigorous training for nearly one month before the shooting. That's why I was very much confident in facing the camera.
Q. After 'Makkala Rajya', you were not to be seen in any film until 'Katha Sangama'?
A. By the time 'Makkala Rajya' released I was nearly 15 years old. I was too old for a child artiste's role and too young for a youngster's role. So, I returned back to stage and learnt harmonium and painting there. Puttanna Kanagal was in constant touch after 'Makkala Rajya'. When he was planning 'Munithayee' for 'Katha Sangama', he called me to come and meet him. I didn't know about the film at that time. He screentested me and I got the opportunity to enact the role of Thimmaraayee.
Q. Are you happy about the way your career has shaped up?
A. Sometimes I feel I didn't get what I was supposed to get. I can't blame it on anybody. It is destiny. But I am happy about my career. I am still enthusiatic and hungry for roles.