Rahman: We released Anjaamai a few years too late

The actor discusses his latest release Anjaamai, his affinity for police characters, upcoming projects, and more
Rahman: We released Anjaamai a few years too late

Actor Rahman is no stranger to police roles, something that is evident in his filmography. A common element in most of his cop characters is an underlying sense of empathy. Some examples are Umar in Ameer’s Raam, Deepak in Karthick Naren’s Dhuruvangal Pathinaaru, and now the cop-turned-advocate Manikkam in SP Subburaman’s Anjaamai. The actor says that the added dimension of empathy in his character is one of the factors that draws him to a project as it allows him to form an emotional connection with its story. The same goes for Anjaamai, which stars Vidaarth, Vani Bhojan, and Krithik Mohan in pivotal roles. “My character in Anjaamai, Manikkam, is a very empathetic and determined cop who turns into an advocate. He is part of a law enforcement system that lacks this all-too-human quality and that creates hierarchical roadblocks to action, so he becomes a lawyer. When SP Subburaman narrated the story to me, I liked it quite a lot as it has such an emotional pull,” says the actor, speaking from his home in Kochi.

Anjaamai explores the NEET exam and the challenges it poses to the students and to their parents. In other words, it delves into the complexities of underprivileged students struggling to crack the NEET for an MBBS seat. Writer-director Subburaman tells the story from the perspectives of Sarkar (Vidharth), Saraswathi (Vani Bhojan), and Arundhavam (Krithik Mohan). Rahman’s character has more prominence in the second half of the film, as he leaves his police job and takes up the profession of an advocate to fight the system. The story is pregnant with potency and provocation, and Rahman is quick to recognise its relevance despite the delay in its release.

“The story takes place in 2017, and the film got wrapped up a couple of years later. The current discourse around NEET and the controversies that it creates are slightly different from the past. So if you ask me, the film was released a few years too late. However, I am sure that the central events in the film will still appeal to the audience who appreciates the kind of cinema that deals with socially relevant topics,” says Rahman, while adding, “I would have been in Chennai and promoted the film longer, if not for my commitments in Malayalam.”

On whether he was aware of the debates around the controversial MBBS entrance exam before he signed on to the project, the actor says, “I do keep up with the status quo; it is just that I generally abstain from speaking about it publicly. After all, the NEET and its effects impact the underprivileged more. However, I come from a privileged background and find it best to take a silent step back and let my work do all the talking instead.”

Rahman's upcoming projects will have him play a variety of roles, such as a wannabe goon with a funny bone in Omar Lulu’s Bad Boyz, the web series 1000+ Babies starring Neena Gupta, and a project with Bhavana. “It has been a while since I have done a comedy, and Omar Lulu’s film is a comic caper. It is a refreshing change of pace for me. I am looking forward to seeing how it goes,” says the actor about Bad Boyz.

“On the other hand, 1000+ Babies is bound for Disney+Hotstar and will be out on the streaming platform in July or August. It also stars Neena Gupta, but I do not have any combination scenes with her,” he reveals. “Besides, there is a film, which marks the directorial debut of Riyaz Marath, where I play a police officer and Bhavana essays the role of a forensic expert. Our storylines in the film undertake a parallel journey, and our characters do not cross paths. My character’s journey in the film is more emotional than Bhavana’s, and there is an ego clash between them,” says Rahman as he signs off.

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