Completing 15 years in the industry, his directorial debut was luck by chance. But everything that followed has been the fruit of Rasheed’s unabashed dedication to his craft.
There is an old Hindi phrase, ‘Dene wala jab bhi deta, deta chhappar phaad ke’, and it is quite apt for Anwar Rasheed’s journey. Rasheed has completed 15 years in the industry, and it was sheer luck that got him his first break as a director. Rasheed worked as an assistant director to Thaha for the film Ee Parakkum Thalika. Rasheed’s directorial debut was Rajamanikyam, in 2005, when National award-winning director Ranjith had announced Rajamanikyam with Mammootty in the titular character of a buffalo merchant, but had to back out for personal reasons. Rasheed stepped in, instead. The film turned out to be one of the biggest hits of Malayalam cinema, and it enlisted Rasheed on the elite list of directors.
Rasheed carefully scripted his career thereon and managed to carve a special place for himself in the Malayalam film industry. His films, Chhota Mumbai and Annan Thambi, were extremely successful. He also won a National Award Ustad Hotel in 2013. He is not only a successful director, but also a sought-after producer. He has produced films like Bangalore Days, Premam, and Parava. He has worked with the biggest names in Malayalam cinema, the likes of Mohanlal, Mammootty, Dulquer Salmaan, Fahadh Faasil, Nithya Menen, Nazriya Nazim, and Nivin Pauly. Rasheed had a gap of seven years before coming back to direction with Trance this year. In those seven years, he had concentrated more on producing films. In an interview with The Hindu, Rasheed said, “I am more comfortable producing films. Direction involves a lot of tension.”
Rasheed teamed up with Fahadh Faasil for the first time in Trance. He used themes of substance dependence, religion, and the commercialisation of spirituality in the film. It was a big-budget film that took almost two years to finish, and is the reason why they had to change the release date multiple times. Trance was also leaked a week before its theatrical release. Trance garnered good reviews upon release, but it did not set the box office on fire. Its theatrical run was cut short due to the pandemic. In an interview with the website onmanorama.com, the director confirmed, “Yes, I received many congratulatory calls, mostly from other film industries. Tamil film-maker K.V. Anand said Trance is one of his favourite films, and technically, the best in Malayalam cinema in the last five years. Telugu film-maker Puri Jagannadh and Tamil director Arun Prabhu of Aruvi fame too called to congratulate me on the film.”
Before Trance, every film that Rasheed worked on, as a producer or director, was successful. The box office debacle of Trance did impact him, but he believes there is no point talking about it post the release of the film. To onmanorama. com, he said, “I am no philosopher to say that nothing affects me because honestly, I moved on rather quickly. Audiences will love some, adore some, dissect some, and thrash or hate some films. Trance is history now. Once a film is out, isn’t it futile to talk about it?” Like the rest of the world, Rasheed was stuck at home during the lockdown as well. He took the recourse of films to tide over the period. He has planned not one but three films, which will start to roll once the pandemic is over. Speaking about it to the website onmanorama.com, he said, “We are all waiting for the pandemic to be over so that we can go back to the good old days. I have decided on three projects. One of them will have Alphonse Puthren as a director. I will be making my Tamil directorial debut with Arjun Das of Kaithi fame. And another will be a big-screen version of Othalanga Thuruthu, which was a YouTube comedy series in Malayalam that gained popularity during the lockdown.”