Monday, September 11, 2006

The break that led to a break-up

EDGAR R. BATTE
He looks calm, walks with grace and reaches out to you in serene manner. When you meet him, you have surely met a peaceful man. As he strides through towns, a few heads will turn for a second stare. Patrick Birungi is the peaceful guy who graced our screens as Ateenyi in the local drama series Hand in Hand. He is that dark handsome guy with an O-shaped moustache (read channel 'O') who played the character role of the electrician in the local drama. He confesses ladies have always taken special interest in him. And well being the hunk he is, you would expect him to have someone to complete the picture. But lo! The fine-looking guy is still on the shelf. He says he is yet to give love a second chance, having lost out on it in his first relationship that ended quite prematurely.Patrick is into some private business as well. He runs one of the modelling agencies in town called PM studios located along Lumumba Avenue. He is a model and a familiar face on the billboards. He is the face that graces the billboards that advertise Uganda Telecom online billing and landline phones. You could also have also seen him on some of the Nile Special beer brand billboards. He is simply setting the heights for himself and as he says the popularity has helped too.
Debut into acting Patrick has spent a considerable part of his life as an actor having been mentored into the profession by veteran actor Alex Mukulu. "At the time he spotted me I was one of the lead vocalists in the Christ the King church choir. He needed people to feature in his production "The Seven Wonders of Uganda" and was looking for people who could particularly sing 'tenor' harmony voices. So he chose me and that is how I made my debut into acting," Patrick recounts.
Patrick’s ideal partner is someone who is simple, loving and open. Photo by Willy Tamale.
He acted in Alex Mukulu's acclaimed local productions like The Seven wonders of Uganda and Thirty years of Bananas. He confesses this was a dream come true since he had always harboured a secret love to become an actor one day so when Alex Mukulu approached him, he obliged with open arms. As a novice, Alex Mukulu didn't have to train him much. He gave him one cardinal rule-to be himself and not 'over act'. He heeded to the advice and soon he was being hooked for acting roles by some big filming companies to feature in their projects. He has since had roles in movies like Get up this time, Full of energy, The Convict as well as his recent role in Hand in Hand. However, it was not smooth sailing for him as a start. He tells of the tension while on stage during his maiden days. He just did not know how the audience would react to him but he has overcome this. In Hand in Hand, which endeared him to the local audience; he took on a character trait of an electrician with a dream of working his way to America for greener pastures overlooking his craftsmanship in Uganda.
Taking his timeFor a handsome guy like him, you would expect a bevy of ideal partners but that is not the case. Patrick tells of his disappointment with love after falling out with his 'dream girl'.When he took on the role in Hand in Hand, it required a lot of his time, which his girlfriend couldn't stand. "It was all good till I became a little busier. She became insecure which was bothersome more so with the pressure of work, we gave each other a break which also led to our break-up," he says. Nonetheless, he is confident there is someone more ideal for him. When asked about his ideal kind of partner, Patrick paints a picture of someone simple with love and an open mind."I would like someone who is straight with inner beauty. She ought to be kind and more importantly open-minded. Well, I am not a perfectionist but just haven't met someone ideal." When not on stage acting or at his modelling agency, Patrick loves taking some time off to relax at the beach with a couple of friends. Otherwise, he loves making friends and a bit of adventure. He has also spread his interests to music and you can get him enjoying some classical and jazz notes. In the pop world, he like Rhythm & blues star, Joe. These make his day and put him in the right mood to face days as they come. The actor/model is grateful to God for what he has managed to achieve so far.
On the Uganda theatre sceneRiding on acting experience of approximately a decade or so, Patrick feels that the Ugandan theatre industry is still lacking. He says a lot is still missing. "There is too much of 'over acting' which is holding local theatre behind. It also lacks reality. Fact is we have good actors who if given more professional training can improve," he said.Incidentally Patrick Birungi discloses that he did not study any course to do with acting. In fact he says he studied accounting at University. Birungi was born in December 1972 to Mr. & Mrs. Ssembogga. He points out that his childhood was not the best and grateful to his parents who struggled to raise him.

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