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. Rahman is the co-brother of Oscar-winning music director A. R. Rahman. 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. After that he acted in many hit films. He was one of the superstars of Malayalam cinema in the 80s, alongside Mammootty and Mohanlal. He acted in the films of almost all the major Malayam directors at that time. Rahman acted in several super hit films including Koodevide, Kanamarayathu, Uyarangalil, Vaartha, Poomukhapadiyil Ninneyum Kathu, Ee Thanalil Ethiri Neram, Ee Lokam Evide Kure Manushyar, Kandu Kandarinju, Aparatha etc.. He was absent from the Malayalam film industry in the late 90s as he concentrated on Tamil and Telugu fims. After a long absence, he acted in Mazhavil Koodaram which went on to become an average grosser; his next films, King Solomon and Hitlist, were flops. 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. After Black, he acted in films such as Rajamanikyam, Mahasamudram, and Bhargavacharitham Moonnam Khandam. He was the hero in films like Abraham and Lincoln and Nanma along with Kalabhavan Mani. He also acted in director Kamal's film Goal and Ranjith's Mohanlal film Rock & Roll. One of his latest films was Moss & Cat, directed by Fazil with Dileep as his co-star. He was also the hero of the Rajasenan film Bharya Onnu Makkal Moonnu. Rajasenan himself was another hero of that film. The movie grossed average collections in Kerala. Rahman appeared in the film Kerala Cafe, in the segment titled "Island Express", under the debutant director Shankar Rama Krishnan (assistant director of Ranjith). The film was released on 29 October 2009. Musafir, produced by Pramod Pappan, is one of Rahman's biggest productions and most expensive ventures to date. Film is yet to reach theaters.
Tamil and Telugu films
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) and the film was a big success. He subsequently appeared in Kanne Kannemuthe, Vasantharagam and Anpulla Appa (with Sivaji Ganeshan). In 1989, after appearing in the super hits 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, Rahman moved from Bangalore to Chennai.
Rahman performed in the Tamil films Raam and Thoothukudi, which were released in 2005 and 2006 respectively. Tamil film Ethiri (2004) was the first film Rahman dubbed in his own voice. He was the villain in the hit Tamil film Billa, released in December 2007. In 2005, after a long gap in Telugu, Rahman acted in the Telugu film Dhariyam, but it was a flop at the box office. The Telugu version of the Malayalam film Abraham Lincoln was released in Andhra Pradesh and was well received. Rahman's next Telugu film was Aalayam, directed by Muthyala Subbayya. The film performed well among family audiences in Andhra Pradesh. His Tamil film Vaamanan, directed by Ahmed (who has worked as assistant to director Kathir) did well throughout South India. He also acted in the Telugu remake of Billa, which released on 27 March 2009 and was a super hit. Rahman's latest Tamil film was Balam, directed by Muralikrishna. Suhasini, his first heroine from the film Koodevide, appears alongside him in this film after a gap of 25 years. Rahman's latest Telugu film, Simha, released worldwide on April 30, 2010; box-office reports say that Simha is a huge hit.
Several of Rahman's Malayalam films are awaiting release. The first one, Manchadikkuru ("Lucky Red Seeds") is produced by the National Film Development Corporation of India and directed by Anjali Menon. The film premiered in 2009 at the International Film Festival of Kerala in Thiruvananthapuram.
Rahman's big-budget Malayalam movie named Musafir, directed by Pramod Pappan, is scheduled for release in August 2010. Mamta Mohandas is the heroine in this film.
His latest Malayalam film is Ennennum Kathorkkan' by Shopy. Shooting will start soon.
Director of super hit film Pokkiriraja, Vyshak announced his next film with Rahman and Jayaram as heroes. Shooting of the film is scheduled to start in December.