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Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Rajkummar Rao to play killer of American reporter Daniel Pearl in ‘Omerta’

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News Desk |

Rajkummar Rao is set to play a British born militant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, who was involved in the murder of a Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. Rajkummar Rao will feature in the titular role in the movie.

Rao said his role in the movie was one of the challenging characters he has encountered in his acting career so far. The most difficult part for him in this character was to delve into that darker side of human psychology that transforms one into an extremist.

In an interview to a leading news agency of India, Rajkummar Rao spoke about the mental and psychological ordeal he had to go through during the shoots of the movie and while he was preparing himself for getting into the role. He mentioned that it took him an equal amount of struggle to shed this character afterward.

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Rajkummar said, “My first as an anti-hero and exhausting as an actor. To feel the hate towards another human being without any remorse can take quite a toll. It took me a while to shed this character.”

Rajkummar further added, “I think it (Omerta) was even more difficult than Trapped. That film was physically taxing but this one mentally shook me up. I was exploring the world which I had no idea about. I was exploring dark roots and secrets about that world and I was very disturbed while shooting for it because I had to play him for that. I had to believe in his ideologies and that was an extremely disturbing process. It is not something I really enjoyed doing.”

“I could not connect with him at any level. I don’t think anyone would agree with his ideologies. There is no way any sane person would connect with him. What these guys do is extremely inhumane. We all strongly condemn them. But yeah I chose to do this and had to start my process by watching those disturbing videos and documentaries. I would listen to his hate speech over and over again, trying to get myself charged up and gather a lot of hatred and anger inside me which I used while playing the part.”

According to his statement, Rajkummar Rao hit himself to make his role as convincing as possible. “There was a scene in which the police remand Omar and I was hung upside down. The action crew and actors were required to thrash me (for the sequence). I asked them to actually beat me up.”

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“It’s important that the scene look authentic. I wanted to feel the pain because that makes Omar mentally strong. I wasn’t scared,” added Rao. “I was waiting for the role to get over. I remember the moment I shaved off my beard I became a different person. I vent out, started traveling, spent time with loved ones and started preparing for the next movie,” Rajkummar Rao said in conclusion.

Director Hansal Mehta too appreciated Rajkummar Rao’s efforts to justify the character. He said, “I wanted to explore evil as a human characteristic and I found an actor (referring to Rajkummar Rao) who was ready to explore the same. To hawk on an evil character. That attracted me to the subject. The challenge of bringing out. He (Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh) is the animal of terrorism.”

“The seed of the idea was given to me by actor Mukul Dev. He has been credited with the story and as a co-writer. He gave me this idea back in 2005 much before Rajkummar Rao had even made his entry in Bollywood. That was the beginning. I found the story very interesting. At that time, nobody thought of making biopics. So, it was an interesting idea that I wanted to develop. It soon became an obsession so much so that when I took a sabbatical in between even then I was constantly thinking about this project. I was developing the script, it was in process, and Shahid happened,” said the director.