I don’t think I can only fit negative characters: Harish Uthaman
Kalki baddie Harish Uthaman on collaborating with Tovino Thomas for the second time and his desire to do all kinds of roles
A lot of Malayalis were astonished recently when they learned that Harish Uthaman is actually a Malayali. As expected, he got a lot of calls later, from people who were earlier under the impression that he is a Tamilian given his relatively higher popularity in Tamil cinema.
An airline cabin crew member-turned-actor who hails from Kannur, Harish made his debut nine years ago with the critically acclaimed Tamil film, Thaa. Although it didn’t quite make the waves at the box office, it put Harish on the radar of some of the most accomplished filmmakers in Tamil cinema. He made his Malayalam debut with the Prithviraj-starrer Mumbai Police (2013) and four years later starred in his second Malayalam film Maayanadhi. In the latter, he played a police officer with a conscience, and who more or less becomes the audience surrogate throughout the film. His performance got him considerable attention in Kerala. Harish recalls being complimented by director Shyamaprasad, who cast him in his new film Kasiminte Kadal, an adaptation of the Anees Salim novel, The Small-Town Sea.
He will be seen as a baddie in tomorrow’s release, Kalki—his third Malayalam film and his second collaboration with Tovino after Maayanadhi. In the middle of filming the Amala Paul production, Cadaver—a thriller in which he and Amala play forensic experts —Harish found some time to open up to express his journey, playing a baddie in Kalki, and why he doesn’t want to be stuck in negative roles.
The actor begins by dispelling the notion that he is more inclined towards negative roles. “I don’t seek villain roles; they come to me,” he says. “I don’t think I can only fit negative characters. I’m game for anything, as long as I have something interesting to do, whether it’s five scenes or ten. I picked Kalki because my character does something in two particular scenes that, when I read the script, really angered me. I had to do it. I love when that happens—when certain characters evoke such strong feelings in you.”
As he had been offered a lot of roles that look the same, he shares that he has started to slow things down from last year because he wanted to steer clear of monotony. “Doing cliche characters gets so tiring after a point. Once you fall into a particular category, it becomes hard to get out of it. For me, it’s all about the content.”
Working with the Kalki team was an experience he holds close to his heart. “We shot continuously for 62 days and it wouldn’t have been that easy if not for the genuinely positive vibe around not just Tovino but also the entire team. I couldn’t get enough of that. Tovino doesn’t behave like a star, and I love that about him. His energy has attracted a warm circle of friends and the right collaborators in cinema. It’s not very often that an actor gets to be on a set where there is no sense of segregation—all the members were shooting the film and eating together. I told producer Prasobh Krishna that next time he plans something, I’ll pack my bags and come running immediately,” he laughs.
Is there any character he wishes to play in the future? “I would love to play a basketball player because it happens to be my favourite game.”