Last year, in the Punjabi film, Yaar Anmulle, a character called Jatt Tinka emerged without a warning, and warmed people's hearts with his comic timing. The story behind actor Harish Verma taking up the role is equally interesting, who reveals it required a lot of convincing for him to take it up.
After nine years of acting in theatre, Harish would like to give credit to the stage for turning him into a brilliant star. As he currently shoots for Burrraah, his third Punjabi film, he talks with HT City about being the unassuming new hero.
Taking to the streets
Born in Kurali, Harish grew up in SAS Nagar. Turning to theatre in 1999, he then came under legendary theatre artiste, playwright and street play director Gursharan Singh's umbrella. Shares the 29-year-old actor, "Whatever I am today as an actor and a human being, is because of Gursharan ji. His courage, passion and enthusiasm were always inspiring. He gave me every kind of role to enact, from a druggist to a mentally upset man, a drunkard, protagonist, an old man and a kid."
As a street play artiste, Harish has traversed the entire Punjab with almost 70 plays. "Each play has been performed almost 250 times by us," adds he.
The great shift to the 'city of dreams' happened in 2008. However, Harish claims he was almost forced to sit in the train bound for Mumbai. He recalls, "My close friend and actor, Vikramjit Virk, booked my tickets to Mumbai on his own, without asking me. But I had dropped the idea of going, when my father forcibly dropped me to Ambala, from where I finally boarded the train."
The initial few days in Mumbai were then spent getting a portfolio shot and sending it to multiple production houses, says the actor.
Harish's hard work and luck bore fruit, as he signed his first serial within a month of landing in Mumbai. Playing the docile son of a shrewd mother, Harish has since been seen as Avtar in Na Aana Iss Des Lado, being aired on the channel, Colors.
Next, he played a parallel lead in a movie called Punjaban that went unnoticed. And in 2011, he bagged a role in the film, Yaar Anmulle.
Jatt Tinka and the power of dreams
Though it was a turning point for him, Harish wasn't convinced when he was approached for Yaar Anmulle. "When Anurag Singh (the director) narrated the script to me, I didn't think my role had much meat. But the director convinced me, and even fought with the producers of the movie who wanted an established actor to play that role."
As Jatt Tinka became famous, Harish began to be flooded with offers. "People tell me that I was the main part of the film and that most of the credit goes to the character that I played. I believe it was Jatt Tinka's innocence, performance and the fact that he was easy to relate with, that touched everyone's hearts."
The actor adds, "I have always had blind faith in my dreams, which only helped an ordinary looking boy like me, with no background in films, to taste success."
Post Yaar Anmulle's success, Harish says he took his own sweet time to reject almost 12 scripts that were offered to him, before finally taking up Burrraah.
Directed by Sagar Sharma, who was also associate director for Yaar Anmulle, the Punjabi film is youth-based, and 'includes everything that a good movie should', avers Harish, while shooting for the same in Patiala.