'The National Award is my biggest achievement'
Uma Shree is arguably one of the best actresses in the Kannada film industry today -- she has picked up state awards quite regularly.
Now, her first National Award further proves that fact. Uma Shree bagged the Best Actress award for her role in Girish Kasaravalli's Gulabi Talkies. She played a divorced Muslim woman, who is an avid film fan and who is prepared to forego her work for the sake of watching a film.
The film won rave reviews for her performance and a Best Actress state award.
Uma Shree speaks to R G Vijayasarathy about winning her first National Award.
How do you feel to win your first Best Actress National Award for your performance in Gulabi Talkies?
When I got the news a few days ago, I thought it was a rumour. I have been busy with some political work and could not think about it later. Today, I got a call congratulating me for this award. I am extremely happy. It is yet to sink in.
I should also add that the entire credit [for the National award] should go to Girish Kasaravalli sir. Gulabi Talkies has given me such prominence as an actor. I am glad that my efforts have been recognised.
This award is so special to me that I am getting nostalgic. I remember those days when I worked for the film in the villages of south Canara district in Karnataka. I had to learn the peculiar Kannada accent spoken by the Muslim women of that area. Girish sir was very specific that I should look and act like a poor Muslim woman, who is extremely fond of films. My entire body language should represent the character, he would tell me.
Image: Umashri in a scene from Gulabi Talkies
'The fact that Girish sir chose me to act this role is more important than awards'
Is Gulabi Talkies a special film in your career?
Gulabi Talkies is certainly a special film in my career. I wanted to act in a film directed by Girish Kasaravalli. I have acted with many great directors, but somehow I was not able to act with a director of his calibre. Girish sir asking me whether I was ready to act in his film and whether I had the required dates was enough for me to accept this film. I was so excited to be part of a Girish Kasaravalli film that I did not think of anything else.
I must say that I did not act in this film thinking about an award or any form of recognition. The fact that Girish sir chose me to act this role is more important than awards. That is why I consider Gulabi Talkies a special film in my career.
How is that Girsh Kasaravalli, an avid watcher of films and plays did not invite you for any of his films earlier?
Girish sir had watched some of my films and plays. He had appreciated my performance in the play, Odalaala, directed by the late C G Krishnaswamy. But I never had an opportunity to work with him. Maybe he did not think of me because he had thought of calling me only for a special role.
Gulabi Talkies was one such film which had an aged Muslim woman as a protagonist. Despite my political connections which warrant a lot of interaction with different types of people, I had not watched any Muslim woman like Gulabi till I started working in the film.
Image: A scene from Gulabi Talkies
'While working for Gulabi Talkies, I had to unlearn many things'
Did you, at any time, hope that Gulabi Talkies would give you your first National Award?
I have already said that winning an award had not occurred to me even during the film shoot. When I got the Best Actress state award for the film, some people told me that I may be a front runner for the National Award. But I did not think too much about it.
While working for Gulabi Talkies, I had to unlearn many things and just submit to the dictates of the director. The national and state government award for Gulabi Talkies is the biggest achievement of my career and I thank Girish Kasaravalli sir.
Image: A scene from Gulabi Talkies