Have seen women fight for their beliefs: YG Uma on playing Manga from 'Cinema Bandi'

Uma plays the role of Manga, a headstrong woman who is unafraid to speak her mind, in the Netflix release 'Cinema Bandi'.
Uma from the film Cinema Bandi
Uma from the film Cinema Bandi
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Manga, while playing the heroine in the movie that a few people from her village are making, is accosted by five men who tease her. When she instinctively starts to beat them up, the ‘director’ of the film Veera stops her, saying that in the movie, it is the hero’s job to beat up the bad guys, not hers. This is a scene from the new Netflix release Cinema Bandi, which revolves around residents of a village who find an expensive camera and want to make a movie by themselves without really knowing how to.

While Cinema Bandi has many interesting characters, a strong and outspoken woman like Manga, played by Uma YG, is not often seen in Telugu movies. Manga is known for always voicing her thoughts without inhibition and being headstrong. Uma YG has been receiving many praises for her portrayal of Manga. At this juncture, TNM spoke to the 27-year-old actor, who is also a theatre artist and Kannada folk singer. She reveals that the character of Manga is very similar to how she is in real life. “I am very much connected to this character. I grew up in Kelur village near the Andhra Pradesh-Karnataka border, where I have seen women who strongly fight for what they believe and say what they feel. I am almost 50% like Manga’s character, which my friends and family know,” Uma quips.

Though Uma was raised to speak Kannada, being brought up near the Andhra-Karnataka border has made her fluent in Telugu. The Cinema Bandi team approached Uma after seeing a short film of hers, made in 2017, after which she auditioned and was finalised for the role of Manga. Apart from Cinema Bandi, Uma is also acting in two Kannada movies, which are yet to be released. She has also started receiving offers from Tollywood, but she is yet to finalise any project.

Before being shot to fame through Cinema Bandi, Uma was mostly known as a Kannada folk singer after participating in the reality show Kannada Kogile in 2018. She says that the shows and subsequent events helped her stay afloat financially.

Uma’s interest in singing was fostered by her aunts, who raised her. “I lost my mother in my childhood and grew up with her sisters, who are all very good singers. They definitely influenced me,” she shares. She further adds that she realised the power of singing when she got an opportunity to sing at the district level. “In class eight, I became a district-level folk singer, which then made me conscious of how art can bring recognition to a person. Everybody started asking my aunts about my achievements and they started feeling proud of me. Since then, I have participated in many competitions and in street plays as well, in different places,” recalls Uma.

Despite her interest and talent in singing, she could not afford formal training. “In our family, being able to afford education itself was a great task, and going for singing coaching was a distant dream. But I'm happy that my aunts at least let me participate in competitions by encouraging me.”

However, Uma says that singing was encouraged much beyond her childhood. “As I started growing up, the encouragement reduced and due to fear of sending a girl to other places for competitions and plays, I was discouraged from participating. But I somehow managed to continue singing and being a theatre artist,” she shares.

Apart from being an actor, Uma is also taking a course in direction and filmmaking, while pursuing a Master of Arts in performing arts through online classes. “There is nothing wrong in learning a new thing. I'm interested in learning as much as possible in this field; we never know when and how we get an opportunity.”

Uma says that she now wants to be a full-time artist and do strong performance-oriented roles in the future. 

Watch the trailer here:


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