Actor Harish Patel, known for his Bollywood work like the cult classic Gunda (1998), is growing by the day, even as his repertoire of Hollywood and British cinema seems to be expanding. His latest film? Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Eternals!
Patel takes us on a nostalgic trip to the 90s while speaking of how he landed the project: “I started with English projects when I did the 1993 British series, The Buddha of Suburbia, which aired on BBC 2. I kept doing work in the West and got signed by an agency. A casting director from the UK contacted my manager to say that the team was considering me for a role in MCU’s latest film,” says Patel who had to send an audition tape. “The scene I was told to enact was not a part of the film (smiles). Even my name was not Karun. I ended up getting selected and I owe it all to destiny.”
The actor jokes when I ask if the makers have seen his Indian films. “If they had, they wouldn’t have roped me in (laughs). I think it’s because of the films, series and stage shows I have done overall. I have done a play (Rafta, Rafta...) for the Royal National Theatre too which won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Comedy 2007. I also did Romeo and Juliet for Shakespeare’s Globe (in 2017, enacted the role of Friar Lawrence) in London,” says Patel.
“It was a great experience to work with director Chloé Zhao and all the ten stars who acted as the Eternals. I would talk about them all but that would take up the entire duration of this interview (laughs). Working with them was like working with family.”
In Eternals, the actor plays Karun, the manager of Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani). “I was able to speak a lot about films with Kumail. He was present when I was giving my final audition in London, and he helped me out with the English lines. The whole cast was quite accommodating of me,” says the actor who mentions how Hollywood’s professionalism makes it stand out from our film industry.
“I can’t believe that I had to miss the premiere of the film in the US,” says Patel who tested positive for COVID-19 at the time this interview happened. “I was supposed to fly to Los Angeles, but I couldn’t. I got quarantined in North Carolina at my daughter’s house. I was depressed that I couldn’t make it but when I started reading the reviews and the appreciation the film was getting, it made me very happy.” For the actor, starring in Eternals is a dream come true. “At 68, doing such a film is a huge deal. What more can I ask for? That said, I do want to do more (laughs).”