Rahman, who grabbed the hearts of Malayalis 32 years ago with his debut film Koodevide, even now enjoys an enviable fame that only a few in Mollywood can claim. It is a kind of fame that makes him a heartthrob cutting across generations and tempts Malayali film buffs to say animatedly, ‘Oh, it’s our Rahman!’ whenever he appears on screen. Be it as hero or even a cameo.
The timeless actor, who gets effusive while talking about his passion — cinema — is all excited about his latest release, 36 Vayadhinile alongside the pretty actress Jyothika, who has made a comeback with this film after eight years. What makes him more excited is that, it is the remake of the Malayalam film, How Old Are You? “I watched the film (36 Vayadhinile) day before yesterday with my family. I was really satisfied with it. I am receiving very good response, not only from women, but from men too. I had thought that men wouldn’t like it, but I was wrong. They say that of all the films that have released recently in Tamil including the superstars’, this film has made a difference with acting, script and narration style.”
Talking about his co-star Jyothika who ruled Kollywood with her blockbusters in her heyday, Rahman says that he was surprised and impressed with her performance. “I had thought that she is just a good looking bubbly woman and was doubtful whether she would be able to handle the character which Manju Warrier had performed. But she eased into the role naturally,” he gushes.
The actor is popular in both Tollywood and Kollywood. Yet he isn’t one to grab every opportunity that comes his way. “I have been very selective from the beginning. I try to balance my films in the other industry and also I filter the scripts that come to me. Hence, the number of Malayalam movies I chose are fewer, sometimes. I have two films in Malayalam now, Lavender and Ente Sathyanweshana Pareekshakal,” he says.
Lavender directed by Altas T. Ali, which took a long time to make is going to release on June 4. Though the making was a ‘hectic’ experience, Rahman says that it will be one of his dearest films. “It is a love story taken in a different perspective. People behind it all are young and we were delayed due to our own decision not to compromise the story for budget constraints. The expense was a bit more than what we expected, however, it will introduce a new crop of film technicians to the industry,” he explains.
The song Cherathe... from Lavender sung by Sidharth Mahadevan has already become a hit on YouTube and social networking sites. “The music of the film itself is a different experience. Deepak Dev has done a fantastic job. He couldn’t do the background music initially for the film, since he was busy with other projects, when we were doing the post production. But when he saw the output, he agreed and we re-recorded it. There are so many wonderful incidents behind this film,” he shares.
Rahman is disappointed that the theatres in Kerala don’t bother to upgrade the facilities, and he feels this is the reason why family audiences hesitate to come. “Many say that most of the films fail because of poor reception. But it isn’t always true. I blame only the theatres. They aren’t ready to give space for small budget films, they keep waiting for films with big names aiming for excellent collections. But, in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, they encourage small budget films, by giving them support. Hence, they come up with more experimental films. When it comes to Kerala, filmmakers are forced to stick to the same formula as exhibitors need masala films. For Manjadikuru, Anjali Menon really struggled to get theatres to screen it. The same way, the film Traffic too was released in fewer theatres, but thankfully it successfully covered 100 days. We should all together welcome small and experimental movies,” he sums up.