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Rahman in a new role

`Black' has brought back a talented actor to Malayalam cinema, reports Saraswathy Nagarajan


I sailed with the wind, moving wherever fame and fortune took me Rahman



AIMING FOR THE TOP Rahman is making a new beginning in Mollywood Photo: S. MAHINSHA

Rahman, the teenager who made a dream debut in Padmarajan's `Koodivede,' is tentatively making a comeback after his role in `Black' made a favourable impression. After donning the role of a policeman in `Black,' Rahman will act as the villain in another movie with Mammootty. It is a feeling of déjà vu for the talented actor who quietly faded away from Malayalam cinema. After a striking debut, he soon became the teenage heart-throb in the Eighties. He won the State award for the best supporting actor for `Koodivede,' in which he played a teenager who has a crush on his school teacher.

Acting with superstars

Pitted against superstars like Mammootty and Mohanlal, he held his own ground and was often tipped off to be the next super star of Mollywood. However, Rahman disappeared from Malayalam cinema and resurfaced as a hero in Tamil and Telegu movies.

After his comeback in Ranjith's `Black', Rahman says he is "actively looking into some projects of Fazil, Joshi and Ranjith." Discussing the reasons for his long absence from Malayalam cinema he says, "I sailed with the wind, moving wherever fame and fortune took me."

Apart from the sprinkling of grey in his hair that is streaked with brown and gold, the passage of years seems to have been kind to the actor. "I have learnt from the mistakes I made. I was just 16 when Padmarajan gave me a role in his film opposite Mammootty and Suhasini. Since I had grown up in Abu Dhabi, I had no idea that it was a break most people were dying for. I was too young and naïve to realise that it was the greatest opportunity for a youngster," recalls Rahman.

Often cast as the younger brother of Mammootty or Mohanlal, Rahman was a familiar presence in many of the movies in the Eighties.

His roles in `Ethiri Poove Chuvanna Poove,' `Kaanamarayathu,' `Parannu, Parannu,' `Eeeran Sandhya' `Kareela Kattu Poole,' `Chilambu,' `Pappen Priyapetta Pappen,' `Thammil Thammil,' `Vartha' and so on were hits that established his credentials as an actor. His range of roles extended from the firebrand radical in `Ethiri Poove... ' to comic ones like the one in `Pappen Priyapetta... ' and the chocolate hero in innumerable films.

As Padmarajan's find, he was cast in many of the ace director's movies. He also got the opportunity to work with the best of directors and actors.

However, Rahman feels that he lacked guidance and made a number of costly mistakes. "I was poor at public relations. Since, at that time, there were not too many youngsters of my age, I did not have many friends who could have advised me. Rohini and Shobhana and I were in the same age group. In fact, Rohini and I were good friends.

Today, there are so many talented youngsters and I envy the camaraderie they share. They have so much of fun and the competition is healthy," he says wistfully.

Looking at the changes in Mollywood, Rahman feels that it has become more professional and the infusion of fresh talent has given it a lot of young faces who have the drive and the skill to make it to the top.

"I was a keen dancer (`Kaanamarayathu') and wanted to make a change in the way some of the dance sequences were shot. But then most directors did not feel that these things were important. I got the opportunity to do that in Tamil films. Now, a lot of money is spent on shooting just one song. That kind of attention to detail shows in the product."

`Interesting theme'

Talking about his latest Tamil movie `Ram,' which is being directed by Ameer, he says, "The theme is very interesting and Malayalam actors like Murali and Pratap Pothen are also acting in the movie."

What is like to be married to A.R. Rahman's sister-in-law? "Well, some film directors approach me and agree to cast me in their films if I put in a word to speak to Rahman to do the music," he laughs. He adds, "I think that is unfair."

Oh brother!

Mammooty and Rahman were a combination that never failed to click at the box office. "I call him Mamu ikka and I really respect him as an elder brother. In fact, in `Black,' I had to shove him and kick him. I found it very difficult to do that. Director Ranjith kept telling me to make it more realistic."

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