Rajkummar Rao, who has proved his versatility with diverse roles in films like Shahid, Queen, Love Sex Aur Dhokha, Aligarh and Trapped, which was screened at MAMI, comes across as a meek and mild-mannered person, which is why this piece of news will make you sit up and take notice.
Rao, who had teamed up with Hansal Mehta for Shahid, Citylights and Aligarh, will play a radicalised Britisher of Pakistani origin Omar Sheikh (infamous for killing Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl) in Mehta’s upcoming film Omerta. In an interview to a leading daily, Mehta said, “This film is based on the said international fugitive, who was involved in Pearl's murder, and it covers a host of terrorist activities (including 26/11) seen through the eyes of this person, who was at the centre of it all. After watching A Mighty Heart (2007), I wanted to know more about the predator and his reasons for choosing this path. While various films have tried to highlight terrorism or its repercussions, I felt it was important to explore the other side of the spectrum — what goes on in the minds of these terrorists. There are so many stereotypes associated with terrorism, but the truth is far more murky and cold. Omar came from a privileged background before eventually being radicalised. Actor Mukul Dev told me this story way back in 2005. I wanted to make this film before Shahid, but a lot of research was required and we kept revising the script."
As to why he roped in Rajkummar Rao for this role, Mehta said, “It was interesting to see him play a character that is totally diverse from what he did in Shahid. Also, he surrenders himself to the role without any kind of baggage." On his part, Rao said, “It's a complete contrast to what I did in Shahid. I play the anti-hero here. I've tried my best to make this character as real as possible. I even stayed in London for a while to get the hang of his way of life. The character is extremely cold and aloof and it was a challenge to convince myself as an actor to believe in his convictions.” Sheikh is currently being held in a prison in Pakistan.
Omerta is written and directed by Hansal Mehta, produced by Swiss Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and based on a story by actor Mukul Dev.