Meet Harshith Malgireddy, a B.Tech final year student, who is the surprise package of the Telugu film ‘Mail’
Harshith Malgireddy, 21, is a B.Tech final year student from Hyderabad, trying to make sense of all the positive feedback that’s coming his way for his debut feature film, Mail, streaming on Aha. “It feels wonderful when people tell me that I have acted well. I love the movies, but I am still not sure what I want to become,” he says when asked about career plans.
Harshith is a known face in the TikTok and YouTube circuit, having featured in short films and concept videos. “I’ve been doing videos on and off for the last three years; after working for different YouTube channels, I got selected for Chai Bisket and was a part of around 10 of their videos,” he says. Harshith is keen to dispel the notion that those who make TikTok videos or for YouTube channels aren’t talented enough. He points out that one cannot get judgemental and that there’s good talent on any platform.
An assistant director spotted him at a dubbing studio when he was working on a video for Chai Bisket and recommended his name to director Uday Gurrala for Mail. “I knew I was lucky to be selected for the film. I got the opportunity without having to roam around Krishna Nagar (the locality in Hyderabad where aspiring actors and technicians reside) with my portfolio. I was eager to make the best of the opportunity,” he says.
Harshith (centre) with co-stars Mani and Gouri Priya
During the lockdown, he had watched the Hindi web series Panchayat and hoped that someone would narrate a rooted, rustic story in Telugu. Naturally, he was overjoyed when he heard the story of Mail, set in rural Telangana: “I loved the story; the writing was so good and newcomers like me, Mani (as the friend Subbu) and Gouri Priya had a good director who could lead us. Uday was so clear about what he wanted from us and got the best from us.”
A nearly month-long workshop helped him learn the Telangana rural dialect and vibe with his co-stars: “Me and Mani must have read the script at least 20 times. By the time we went to shoot, we knew all the lines and then improvised on the expressions. Darshi anna (Priyadarshi) was the senior and popular actor and he, too, made us feel very comfortable,” says Harshith.
During the workshop and on set, Harshith would watch how Uday enacted the scenes to the actors and imbibed the body language: “I am pretty good at imitating people.”
Harshith has been a film buff since school and gradually began to watch films across languages, learning to appreciate different genres in world cinema: “I began to appreciate movies that are based on real-life stories or have a more realistic tone. I enjoy watching Malayalam films and Fahadh Faasil is my role model. I was doing YouTube videos for fun, but once I thought of acting, I began to look out for detailed interviews of actors and directors to know their process of work.”
Harshith hasn’t signed any other film, yet. Mail was filmed soon after permissions were given for film crews to work after the lockdown. “It turned out to be the right opportunity at the right time. College was closed and we only had a few online classes,” he says, and hopes that more worthwhile film opportunities come his way.