In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, law enforcement in the U.S. was trying everything it could to get inside the Muslim community in America. Now one of those efforts has been turned into a movie starring Verona’s own Kal Parekh.
The Spectacular Jihad of Taz Rahim is loosely based on the New York Police Department’s recruiting of an American teen of Bengali descent to work as an informant. Parekh, whose career has been on an upward trajectory since landing the plum role of Sanjiv on ABC’s Pam Am in 2011, plays Detective Nick Patel, the officer tasked with managing the informant and getting his contacts to talk about potential acts of terrorism.
Despite the plot line and how the lives of people of color have changed in the wake of 9/11, Parekh says the film is more dark comedy than thriller. “It gets a conversation going about how to deal with these situations,” he says. “I have been stopped and searched when I was on my way to work.” Parekh was born in India, but grew up in Verona, attending Laning Avenue, H.B. Whitehorne and Verona High School, where he focused on art, not drama. He went to college to study animation, and fell into acting after having to take an acting class to learn how to animate people characters.
Parekh is also excited about this role because, he notes, it wasn’t something he’d been offered before. “I don’t normally get to play the detective going after the bad guy,” he says. And while he’s had some high-profile TV parts–Fox’s The Following and ABC’s Black Box–this is Parekh’s first feature film lead.
If you want to see The Spectacular Jihad of Taz Rahim, you’re going to have to travel a bit. It opens on May 29 at the Regal Commerce Center in New Brunswick. The movie was largely shot in Queens, so it’s also going to be playing in Astoria: There’s a 2:15 p.m. show on both Saturday, May 30, and Sunday, May 31, at the UA Kaufman Astoria Cinemas. Here’s the official trailer: