MUMBAI—Rajkummar Rao, who had teamed up with Hansal Mehta for “Shahid,” “Citylights” and “Aligarh,” will play a radicalized British of Pakistani origin Omar Sheikh (infamous for killing Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl) in Mehta’s new film “Omerta.”
In an interview to a leading daily, Mehta said, “This film is based on the 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.”
The filmmaker says, “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 radicalized. 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.”
Rao, says Mehta, surrenders himself to the role without any kind of baggage.
On his part, Rao added, “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.”
“Omerta” is written and directed by Mehta, produced by Swiss Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. and based on a story by actor Mukul Dev. The real Sheikh is currently in a prison in Pakistan.