With a reel adaptation of real accounts, the actor talks about his will to tell storiesthat span boundaries
Not many have heard of Rahsaan Islam. But those who have are all praise for the Bangladeshi-American actor, who debuted on our screens with his internationally-acclaimed Bengali film, Simanaheen. Now he is venturing into Bollywood with the bilingual, The Spectacular Jihad of Taz Rahim, where he essays the role of a Muslim rapper who is forced to become an informant for the NYPD post 9/11. The offbeat feature is a plucky satire based on a true story. In fact, the actor—who says he is very choosy about his roles—did in-depth interviews with the real informant before the shoot. While terrorism is a recurring theme, with films like New York and My Name Is Khan, Islam says, “The film isn’t really about the serious nature of terrorism. Instead, it is about how people use the ‘threat’ to further their own ambitions. It is Machiavellian mind control by political leaders and we wanted to expose that in a twisted, humorous way,” says the actor, whoco-developed the script with debutant director Raghav Murali.
Islam believes he is part of the transition in world cinema, where geographical lines are getting blurred (like Hollywood’s Life of Pi becoming a rage in India and Slumdog Millionaire making its mark internationally). “India is on the cusp of becoming a dominant global player. I see myself as a part of that movement,” says the 28-year-old.
With some big names in The Spectacular Jihad of Taz Rahim—like Sorab Wadia (Kite Runner), Kal Parekh (House and Entourage) and musician Monica Dongre—Islam is excited about his Bollywood debut. He’s even making plans to move to Mumbai, where he hopes to direct, write and act in films that the audience has never seen before—unusual thrillers, adventures and action topping the list. A fan of Aamir Khan, he says, “He’s only directed one movie, but I’d love to work with him. I think to be a director you have to have a brilliant mind, and I just want to enter his mind and steal his ideas, like the opposite of Inception.”
The Spectacular Jihaad of Taz Rahim is scheduled to release today.