Meet Alisha Rahman: From Mani Ratnam’s protege to future film star

Alisha Rahman with father Rahman. Photo: Special Arrangement

Alisha Rahman, veteran actor Rahman’s daughter and music legend AR Rahman’s niece is all set to make her big entry into the movie industry. She worked as an assistant director on the sets of ‘Thug Life’ directed by Mani Ratnam while getting ready to debut as an actress. Alisha opens up to Manorama Online about her dreams and her determination to pursue her passion.

Mani Ratnam, the brand
“Mani sir is my guru! It was my biggest dream to study cinema under his mentorship. I believe that my prayers have been answered in the form of an opportunity to work in his movie. ‘Thug Life’ is an amazing film; you could call it another ‘Nayakan’. This movie is what you call ‘big and better’, and that is exactly what it offers the audience. Mani sir taught me how to use a clapboard while filming a significant scene. I was overwhelmed when he considered me even during a busy moment. He was really fond of me. Mani Ratnam is quite serious on the sets as you can’t afford to laugh and enjoy while handling such huge responsibilities. His movies excel because of his ability to stay true to his art and his opinions.

I was happy even sitting idly with him in his office. For me, Madras Talkies was like my home. He supported and took care of me like a parent when a small accident happened during the filming. These are some of the fortunate moments that life offers us. Who doesn’t wish to be Mani Ratnam’s heroine? However, you wouldn’t get the time even to think about it when you are working as an assistant director on his sets,” says Alisha.

Working with Kamal Haasan
Alisha recalls meeting screen icon Kamal Haasan for the first time when she accompanied her father to invite him to her elder sister’s wedding. The youngster says that she still remembers every word that he spoke that day. “It indeed is a pride and joy to have a legend like Kamal Haasan on the sets. You could learn something new from him each day. Occasionally, he speaks about his life experiences, which I believe I have been fortunate to listen to. He is a fine example of how knowledge and wisdom could make a person great,” Alisha doesn’t hide her admiration.

Actress and assistant
An assistant director needs to work without considering the heat, dust or rain. It is not possible to take care of your looks once you start working as an assistant. Alisha says that she would be covered in dust and grime when she reaches home after the day’s schedule. An actor’s tool is her body, so, Alisha makes sure to look after her health. No matter how busy or tired she is, Alisha never skips her skincare routine. That is also how she balances the work-life routine. Alisha confessed that sometimes she contemplates being a director, forgetting about her dream to become an actress.

Alisha Rahman with Mani Ratnam. Photo: Special Arrangement

Dream job
“As a kid, I wished to become a veterinary doctor. But, it didn’t happen due to many reasons. So, I thought that I could make acting, which is something I know really well, my profession. That is when I decided to focus on acting. I don’t want to become an actor who merely appears in movies, but I plan to make movies after learning the nuances of cinema as an art form. I think it’s better to know everything about cinema before performing in front of the camera,” notes Alisha.

Alisha wishes to direct a movie. She often jots down interesting things that she has experienced during travelling which she believes will come in handy if she directs a thriller film. Even though she would love to direct her father, her story is about a group of youngsters. Nevertheless, she wishes to direct another movie with a script that suits her father.

Role model
“I grew up watching my father’s success. He groomed me for the two short films that I had done earlier. It was he who helped me understand the script. He often says that an actor should be able to understand not the lines in the script but the emotions in it,” says Alisha.

Dream to act in Malayalam
Alisha dreams of making her debut in a Malayalam movie. She wishes to do movies that are unique and novel. The young movie enthusiast vows that she is overwhelmed by the kind of movies that are made in Malayalam.

Alisha Rahman with family. Photo: Special Arrangement

AR Rahman, the uncle
“He was really happy when I told him that I wanted to work in the movies. I like singing and find solace in playing the piano. I learned piano from Trinity College in London. Uncle always asks me to sing whenever he sees me. But, somehow it hasn’t happened yet. He really enjoys listening to me playing piano,” she says.

Family, my strength
“My parents and my sister support all my dreams. They are my biggest strength. They give me the strength to chase my dreams. Moreover, they are my biggest critics too,” Alisha signs off.  

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