Umesh, who had acted in a film Makkala Rajya as a child artiste, later got completely immersed in the theatre. But when he understood the truth that he cannot make a living in theatre, he turned towards movies and was searching for a role on the silver screen.
Kannada’s most celebrated perfectionist, director Puttanna Kanagal was looking for a young boy to play the ‘Thimmarayi’s character. Umesh was luckily selected for the role and a happy man he got ready to for shooting at Lalithadripura village in Mysore, which was situated behind Chamundi Hills. Today’s superstar Rajinikanth too had a major role in the movie.
Umesh entered the set in style. But his role was of a 16-year-old village boy. When the director Puttanna saw Umesh, his reaction changed. He immediately asked Umesh to come before him in a village boy's get up (belonging to Jenu Kuruba community) whose job is to get honey from the honey comb in the forest.
“Get dressed as a Jenu Kuruba from a village, especially have a hairstyle suitable for the role. There is still time for the shooting to begin, go get ready,” said Puttanna.
Makeup man Ramaswamy came along with him in search of a barber's shop in the relatively new village (to the actors). After walking for a while, they found the barber shop (the only shop in the entire village). But the shop was closed as the barber was busy performing ‘Ganga pooja’ (Gangepooje).
Seeing no other way, both went in search of the barber’s house. The barber was at home, but he declared, “I will not touch the scissors today. I am performing Ganga Pooja.”
Umesh was scared of losing the role in the movie if he returned with the same hairstyle. Understanding the actor’s difficulty, makeup man Ramaswamy thought for a while and asked the barber to give them any hair cutting machine if he had one.
The barber went inside with an irritated look on his face. Within a minute, he came back with a rusted machine and gave it to Ramaswamy.
Not understanding what to do exactly, Ramaswamy got ready to try his hands in cutting the hair. With the role in mind, Umesh sat with fear in his heart. Ramaswamy switched the machine on and started his work. The machine was so old that with hair, it even caused bruises on the head and forehead.
After struggling for an hour, Umesh was transformed as ‘Thimmarayi’. Both returned to the sets and Umesh stood in front of the director, with a confused mind.
Umesh’s heart was beating fast, and the director’s facial expression changed again. This time, he was all smiles and said the hairstyle was exactly as he wanted it to be.
The pain of bruises went away, and Umesh put his heart and soul into his character. Though the bruises reminded him of their presence now and then, the shooting went on well. Umesh was appreciated by Puttanna as well as Rajinikanth and other actors.
Thimmarayi’s role later even fetched Umesh an award and gave him plenty of opportunities in the movies and today, he has more than 100 films to his credit.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:34 PM IST