I like to play roles that challenge me and I can do something different: Rajkummar Rao
Rajkummar Rao says he loves roles that test his limits as there is no fun in doing something that comes “easily and naturally” to him. The actor is known for critically-acclaimed and scene-stealing outings in films such Shahid, Queen, Aligarh, Trapped, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Newton.
“…I do not like something that comes easily and naturally to me. I like pushing myself as an actor. I like to play roles that challenge me and I can do something different. There has to be an extra edge to it. I enjoy that,” Rao said. Playing dreaded terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh in frequent collaborator Hansal Mehta’s Omerta was one such role that challenged him the most.
“All the characters that I have played, I could somewhere connect with them, either I know that person or make it my own and do it. But I don’t know this world at all, I don’t know anybody like him. So everything had to come from within. I know there is a lot of hatred and anger inside Omar and that was challenging to do. It was a tough and disturbing process to live with that kind of hatred,” he said.
It is a role reversal of sorts for the actor, who first collaborated with Mehta to play slain human rights activist Shahid Azmi. “You are vulnerable and leaders brainwash you and take you on a wrong path. Shahid was very vulnerable, he was very angry, impulsive, but he came back and realised that it is not the right path and he chose to be a human rights lawyer. But there are boys like Omar who never came back,” Rao said.
Both Rao and Mehta visited some of the places frequented by Omar in London during his transformation from a LSE graduation student to this terrorist.
“I was trying to get the accent right and understand the culture and the background.” The 33-year-old actor said there are two types of people in the world – Shahid and Omar. “Both felt like victims, shared the same history but chose different paths.” The film releases tomorrow.