The young and talented actor talks of his journey thus far & his passion for Cinema
He was barely twelve when he bagged his debut role in a Bollywood film and it was nothing short of a ‘dream come true’. He was so excited that he couldn’t contain himself. He broke the news to all his friends and teachers, adding that he was going to be away for a while. But as the time drew near, the director called to say that there were issues with the production team and that the shoot had to be cancelled. The little boy was heart-broken, he couldn’t bear to face his friends. He became very depressed and Cinema became a distant dream that seemed almost impossible. But destiny had another plan. After his studies, just as he joined work, he got a call from a Mollywood crew enquiring if he would be willing to audition for the junior role of Dulquer Salman. He thought it was a prank at first but later when he realised it was a genuine call, he didn’t think further. He bagged the role and the movie turned to be a huge success. Since then, there’s been no turning back for this young actor who has been flying high! Ritz has a candid chat with the young, talented and free spirited Shalu Rahim, who has two new releases lined up, Luca and Jallianwala Bagh!
Interview: Riya Sonny Datson
Costune: Freedom By Jishad Shamsudeen
Photographer: Milan Baby
How did it feel watching your very first movie, Kammattipaadam on screen?
I still remember watching the movie at the theatre. As I didn’t get a seat, I sat on the aisle and watched the entire film. I had goose bumps right through the film – from the very first minute till the end when they played the credits. After my childhood disappointment, I had decided not to tell anyone about the shoot this time. I told my mom only after the shoot was over. I told my family and friends that mine was just a fleeting ‘two minute’ role. So when they saw me on screen for a good half hour, they were amazed and they congratulated me. It was awesome to finally have my long lost dream come true.
After your debut, your next break. ‘Maradona’ happened in 2018, what was the reason for the two year gap?
After I won positive reviews for my debut film, I started to get hero oriented roles and honestly, I felt I wasn’t ready for them. I had very little experience and I felt I needed to explore more character oriented roles before taking on lead roles. I had no connections in the industry and after Kammattipaadam, it seemed as if I was let out into an Amazon jungle, left to fend for myself. It was intimidating at first, it still is but I think I am getting familiar and am slowly finding my way around the jungle now!
With so much competition, how do you handle the pressures of survival?
I strongly believe in destiny and luck. I never planned any of this but all the roles I portrayed came to me when the timing was right. Yes, I have had a lot of disappointments too but I have learnt to take them in my stride. I believe that the roles I have to do, will eventually come to me. As a child, though Cinema was always a passion, I never thought I will be able to pursue it as a profession. But now, I am beginning to feel that I can.
Maradona happened very early in your career. Didn’t you have any inhibition about playing a negative role opposite a star like Tovino?
When the role was narrated to me, I very badly wanted to do it but unfortunately I had already committed my dates to another movie. I was miserable when I turned down the project. But then due to unexpected reasons, my shoot got postponed by two weeks and that’s when I signed up for ‘Maradona’. I felt it was a God given opportunity and it was a wonderful experience doing that role. I had to work very hard for the role as there was an important fight scene and I chose to perform without a dupe. It was tough but very satisfying.
You have already done a wide range of roles, so any more dream roles?
Yes, I had grey shades in my very first movie, then I got to do romance and drama, played the role of a priest in my second movie. In ‘Kaly’, my role was that of a very insecure personality, was a villain in Maradona and now I am playing the role of a college leader, a very emotional character in Jallianwala Bagh. In Luca, it is a cameo. I have played literally everything I wanted to do. Next year I plan to do a full-fledged martial arts movie, for which I intend to undergo a 6 month action oriented training. That would be a dream role.
What do you think is your biggest strength?
I think it is my ability to have an open mind. I am willing to try different roles, explore new characters and work hard for it.
Any fears while facing the audience?
No, I have no fears at all. There was a time when I feared public speaking but I decided to face my fear and with repeated programs, I have overcome it and I enjoy interacting with the audience now.
What interests you apart from Cinema?
Music – I am a self-trained DJ. While in Dubai, I have handled many programs including the Kerala Premier League. I also love badminton. As a child, I had flat foot so there was a time when I couldn’t walk properly or play but I always desired to play the sport. I managed to play badminton while in school and won the runner up title. I have also won inter college championship, and the runner up title twice.
Recently there was a fake news on social media about your getting married. Do you let such controversies affect your personal life?
It was shocking and I still have no idea how it came up but I switched off my phone for one week until the controversy died down. So that settled it. I am not very active on social media either, so it doesn’t bother me.
Shalu Rahim is: Loving, Caring and Energetic
Projects in the Pipeline?
My upcoming projects are Luca and Jallianwala Bagh. Apart from that there is a dream project called Jumba Lahiri. After three years, the same team of Kammattipaadam is getting back together. So I am really excited about it. The title was launched by Dulquer Salman and he wished me luck on fb saying, ‘All the Best, Shalu Rahim’, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I was literally in seventh heaven! I am also shooting for Edakkad battalaion 06 with Tovino and I am doing a negative role.
- I am: Spiderman
- I Enjoy: Happiness
- I love: To Sing
- I dislike: Gossip
- Crazy about: Life
- Cinema is: A Bomb
- Can’t do without: Peace
- Dream Holiday: Ecuador
- Secret childhood ambition : To be a politician