Rajkummar Rao in a still from Omerta.
Rajkummar Rao in a still from Omerta.

It doesn’t come naturally, says Rajkummar Rao on nudity in Omerta

Rajkummar Rao is playing dreaded terrorist Omar Saeed Sheikh in Hansal Mehta’s Omerta. In a freewheeling chat, they explained what it took them to portray such a person on-screen.
By Rohit Vats | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 03, 2018 07:53 PM IST

Rajkummar Rao is playing Omar Saeed Sheikh, a dreaded terrorist involved in many gruesome acts, in director Hansal Mehta’s Omerta. He talked about the mind of a terrorist, nudity and his synergy with director Hansal Mehta.

Rajkummar says it wasn’t easy for him in the scenes involving nudity. He says, “It doesn’t come naturally. There is certain amount of nervousness that I have to do a nude scene, but I trust Hansal Mehta. With him, I know it will be aesthetically shot.”

Read: Who is Omar Saeed Sheikh, the terrorist Rajkummar Rao plays in Omerta?

The actor describes his thought process while shooting for Omerta. He says, “I felt a lot of anger, a lot of internal violence inside me and it’s a very, very uncomfortable space.”

He adds, “There are a lot of silences in the film and the violence doesn’t always have to be physical. It could be in your looks, your silence, in how you are planning things around, because Omar Sheikh’s mind is always working. He is never at rest. Once he has taken up a job, he would make sure he does it the best way possible.”

Rajkummar continues, “Then there are scenes in the film where there is violence as well. There is a big scene between him and Daniel Pearl and the whole scene was improvised.” Was he nervous before the film? He says, “I was nervous of course. It was a very unfamiliar territory to me. I didn’t know anything about these guys or Omar Saeed.”

So which side would he take? “I would take the side Omar believes in. I can’t let my personal ego come in the way. If I don’t have conviction in my lines then how will people react to it!”

Omar Sheikh is still awaiting his final punishment in a Pakistani jail. (Photo: Getty Images)
Omar Sheikh is still awaiting his final punishment in a Pakistani jail. (Photo: Getty Images)

Hansal Mehta explains how he planned the film. Hansal says, “I created his world. There was research. I read a lot about the history of fundamentalism. It gave me an understanding of the world. But there was this responsibility that I shouldn’t be glorifying and justifying any of Omar Saeed’s acts. The big challenge was how do you take that research and not over-humanise it. Humanising evil is as much a human characteristic as empathy is.”

Rajkummar chips in and says, “This is how we made Shahid as well, in fact all of our projects together. The script would be there, but we tend to explore more on the sets. We don’t really plan things. We know about the scene we are getting into, we know about the characters but we just let it go. We don’t really go by the formula.

Hansal tells us the story behind the film’s title and reveals it was actor Mukul Dev’s story. “Initial reason for calling it Omerta was very frivolous. In 2005, Mukul Dev gave me the idea and I pitched it to a couple of producers. One of them said ‘let’s make it but don’t tell anybody about it.’ I didn’t like the untitled film. When the first page of the script is blank, it feels it’s never going to get written. Then I decided I will call it Omerta. The name stuck with me.”

Omerta will hit the screens on May 4, 2018.

You can watch the interview here:

Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/@nawabjha

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