Rahman was born in Abu Dhabi, Trucial States. He made his debut in Koodevide (1983), and has appeared in more than 150 films. Rahman’s native place is in Nilambur, Malappuram district, Kerala. Rahman attended Baldwin Boys High School in Bangalore, St Joseph’s Abudhabi in Abu Dhabi, Rex Higher Secondary School in Ooty, and M.E.S. Mampad College, Nilambur. Rahman is six feet tall. He is married to Mehrunnisa; they have two children, Rushda and Alisha. A. R. Rahman married actor Rahman’s wife’s elder sister, Saira Banu.
Rahman’s first Malayalam film was Koodevide, which was released in 1983. It became a big hit. He was one of the superstars of Malayalam cinema in the 1980s, alongside Mammootty and Mohanlal. He acted in the films of almost all the major Malayam directors at that time. Rahman acted in several popular films including Koodevide, Kanamarayathu, Uyarangalil, Vaartha, Poomukhapadiyil Ninneyum Kathu, Ee Thanalil Ethiri Neram, Ee Lokam Evide Kure Manushyar, Kandu Kandarinju, and Aparatha. He was absent from the Malayalam film industry in the late 1990s as he concentrated on Tamil and Telugu fims. After a long absence, he acted in Mazhavil Koodaram, King Solomon and Hitlist. After another interval, he came back with the movie Dreams, playing the role of a police officer. Another of his comeback movie was Black, alongside Mammootty. In 2008, he completed his silver jubilee as an actor.
Rahman’s first Tamil film was Nileve Malare, which was released in 1986; the director of the film was S. A. Chanderashekhar (Tamil actor Vijay’s father). He subsequently appeared in Kanne Kannemuthe, Vasantharagam and Anpulla Appa (with Sivaji Ganeshan). In 1989, after appearing in Pudhu Pudhu Arthangal, Puriyatha Puthir and Nee Pathi Naan Pathi, he shifted completely to Tamil and Telugu. Bharath Band is one of his big hits in Telugu. Rasaleela was the first Telugu movie Rahman acted in; it was released in 1986. In January 1987, Rahman moved from Kozhikode to Bangalore. In 1990, he moved from Bangalore to Chennai. In 1999 he acted in the Tamil film Sangamam, directed by Suresh Krishna, which depicted the story of a feud between classical and folk dance. The music of the film was composed by A. R. Rahman. Rahman then performed in the Tamil films Raam and Thoothukudi, which were released in 2005 and 2006 respectively. The Tamil film Ethiri (2004) was the first film Rahman dubbed in his own voice. He was the villain in the Tamil film Billa, released in December 2007. In 2005, after a long gap in Telugu, Rahman acted in the Telugu film Dhariyam. Rahman’s latest Tamil film is Balam, directed by Muralikrishna. Suhasini, his first heroine from the film Koodevide, appeared alongside him in this film after a gap of 25 years. Rahman’s next Telugu film, Simha, released worldwide on April 30, 2010. Simha went on to become the highest grosser of 2010, and the 5th highest grossing movie in the Telugu Film Industry. He appeared in Oosaravelli and Vanthaan Vendraan. He is set to star with Balakrishna.
Rahman received the State Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in his very first film, Koodevide. He also received the Film Critics Award and Chamber Award for this film. In 1984 he received the Kerala Film Chamber Award for Best Actor for the film Ithiri Poove Chuvanna Poove. Rahman received the Award for Trendsetter in the history of Malayalam cinema’s 78 years at the Etisalat Everest Film awards held in Dubai in 2007. The public voted Rahman for this award from the nominations including Kamal Hassan, Sreedevi, Manju Warrier and Nadhiya. Rahman’s Malayalam film Manjadikkuru, directed by Anjali Menon, received two awards at the 2008 International Film Festival in Kerala.