Rajkummar Rao on transforming into Omar Sheikh for Omertà: 'Found out that I could be really dark'
Rajkummar Rao talked about his process of getting into the character of a terrorist and the mental toll it took on him.
Rajkummar Rao has impressed everyone with his acting skills. The actor, who made his Bollywood debut with the sleeper hit Love Sex Aur Dhokha, has been seen in a number of critically acclaimed as well as commercially successful movies. Gangs of Wasseypur, Shaitan, Shahid, CityLights, Trapped and Newton are examples of how convincingly Rajkummar Rao can slip under the skin of the characters he is portraying.
Now, after starring in commercially viable movies such as Behen Hogi Teri, Bareilly Ki Barfi and Shaadi Mein Zaroor Aana, Rajkummar Rao is back with frequent collaborator — director Hansal Mehta — in the grueling, intense and dark Omertà.
Omertà chronicles the life of the dreaded terrorist Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh who is responsible for the 1994 kidnapping of four foreign tourists in Delhi and the 2002 kidnapping and murder of journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan. Sheikh is also considered to have a hand in the 9/11 attacks in the US in 2001, and the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008.
In an interview with The Indian Express, Rao talked about his process of getting into the character of a terrorist. Playing a terrorist will understandably be a difficult task. For a normal person to understand and reason with the ideologies and beliefs of someone who considers murder and the spreading of fear as the sole goal of their lives is an almost impossible task, but Rajkummar did it anyway. The actor spent hours listening to Sheikh's speeches and trying to not only understand but also feel the hate and anger that Sheikh poured out.
Rajkummar, who recently played a man stuck inside an apartment of a high-rise building in Trapped, said Omertà was a much more difficult role for him to play. Talking about it, Rajkummar said, "I think it (Omertà) 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."
While shooting for the movie, Rajkummar Rao found out that he could be very dark as a person. He spent a major amount of his time watching documentaries based on Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. The actor also said that he couldn't wait for the movie to be wrapped up because a negative energy had taken hold of him. The day Rao shaved off his beard, he took a break, travelled, and spent time with loved ones to let go of all the negative energy that had gone into preparing for his role in Omertà.
None of this has changed the love Rao has for dark, complex roles. He will continue to do challenging roles that affect him not only physically but also mentally.
You can watch the trailer for Omertà below.
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