Harish Patel says he told Kumail Nanjiani on Eternals set he wasn't fluent in English, reveals how the cast reacted
Actor Harish Patel's appearance in the much-anticipated Marvel movie Eternals may have brought him in the limelight, but he says as an artiste he doesn't believe in bragging about his international projects.
Hollywood banner Marvel Studios recently released a teaser trailer for all of its upcoming movies, which included a sneak peak into Eternals, the Chloe Zhao-directed superhero movie.
The film, about an alien race living on Earth for over 7,000 years who team up to protect humanity from their evil counterparts, the Deviants, will feature a cast full of Hollywood A-listers, including Angelina Jolie, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington, Gemma Chan and Brian Tyree Henry.
Indian fans were able to notice Patel in one of the scenes from the movie's footage, where he is standing next to Nanjiani, who is essaying the role of Kingo in the movie.
Without divulging details about his role, Patel said that he does not have a lengthy role in the movie.
"Whatever little you have seen of me in the teaser that’s where my role starts and ends," the 67-year-old actor told PTI in an interview.
It is speculated that Patel will mainly feature in the movie with Nanjiani, who had previously revealed that his "secret identity" in the superhero saga will be that of a "Bollywood movie star".
For the uninitiated, Patel is the actor from the 1990s who became famous for his role as Ibu Hatela in Mithun Chakraborty-starrer Gunda.
The actor made his film debut with Shyam Benegal's critically-acclaimed 1983 movie Mandi and then featured in movies such as Mirch Masala, Mr India, Malgudi Days, Thanedar and Mohra.
Eternals isn't Patel's first international project as he has previously been part of movies such as The Buddha of Suburbia, indie comedy Today's Special and Run Fat Boy Run, which marked the directorial debut of Friends star David Schwimmer.
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He also made appearances in Hulu series Four Weddings and a Funeral and long-running British drama Coronation Street.
So while the internet is going gaga over Patel’s appearance in Eternals, Patel said the movie is just yet another international project for him.
"In India, I am a character actor. Here people think I am sitting idle but I am regularly doing work there (in the West). I am very happy that I am getting attention (here) after so many years. People would often refer to me as Ibu Hatela from 'Gunda' but I feel my work in other films was equally good.
"However, I don’t like tom-tomming about my work. If I had to, I could have said that Slumdog Millionaire was offered to me and I couldn’t do it because of my other prior commitments," he said.
The actor said that he auditioned for a part in Eternals in London in 2019 and was immediately called for a read through with the entire cast.
When he went for the audition, Patel admitted that he didn't know anyone in the cast, including Madden, known for playing Robb Stark in smash hit HBO series Game of Thrones. The actor was only aware of Jolie, owing to her Hollywood star status.
"While we were reading Richard Madden and Kumail Nanjiani were sitting on my left and right hand side. I haven't seen Game of Thrones.
"I told Kumail that I am not that good or fluent with English and I don’t know anyone of them present here. I guess he told everyone about this and they all smiled at me and were so humble," he said, adding that he was extremely happy after meeting Jolie.
Patel shared that he shot for his part in the film in September 2019 in Pinewood Studios, at the same time the shoot of James Bond’s next film was underway and he was elated to witness a bevy of stars.
Eternals is scheduled for a worldwide release on November 5.
The actor made an honest admission, saying that he is clueless about Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as he hasn't seen a single film from the blockbuster franchise yet.
"I have not seen any of their films. I don’t even know what MCU is all about. All I know is that it is Marvel," Patel said.
Despite having acted in many international TV shows and films, Patel said his biggest struggle still is the English language.
"I remember the scenes and everything. I understand the English we speak here but out there, I'm not able understand everything that directors and co-actors say. I told them that I'm not accustomed to their English which has an accent and they are kind enough to understand and be respectful," he added.
Patel said he feels scared every time he shoots for a project but is grateful for the support from his co-stars and crew members.
"I have studied in Hindi medium school. Om Puri and I would understand each other’s problems as he also studied in Hindi medium. We did a film together called My Son the Fanatic.
"We both were thinking in Hindi and then saying our dialogues in English," he added.
Patel, who in India trained under eminent theatre director Satyadev Dubey for about eight years, said the best way to overcome the language problem is to keep reading the script over and over again.
"I rehearse a lot. I read the script at least 100 times and the script is there with me on my bed side while I am sleeping. By doing this I could remember my lines."
Patel said he is happy with the work he has done in English-language films.
"I kept getting good roles over there (in the West), which were different. The roles were important to the story. I enjoyed it, got respect and good money too."