We all have different shades in Inkaar: Sami Khan
The name’s Khan, Sami Khan and after a hiatus, he is back on TV with Inkaar.
The talented actor who started his career way back with feature film Salakhein and recently made a comeback with Gumm believes that until and unless we improve both the quality and quantity of films, TV will remain the bigger medium in Pakistan.
Spotlight got hold of the versatile actor and asked him why he chose to work opposite the ‘silent assassin’ Imran Ashraf, his chemistry with his co-stars and how he feels on reuniting with Zafar Mairaj, who wrote the play that saw Sami win the PTV Award! Excerpts:
Two of your films are under production at the moment – Wrong Number 2 and Kaaf Kangana – while you are working in a couple of HUM TV plays as well. How do you manage films and TV side by side?
I was away from the TV screen for 8 months because of my films; I did Wrong Number 2 and Kaaf Kangana during that time while promoted Gumm which was shot before these films. It was during these few months I realized that we don’t have much film audience and it is TV that still rules people’s hearts.
During the shooting of Kaaf Kangana at the Shahi Qila in Lahore, the crew was mobbed and the spectators wanted to meet me, which humbled me as well as scared the director Khalil ur Rehman Qamar who made a deal with the mob, telling them that they would get me if they let the shoot happen as per schedule.
Those people were not my film fans but TV viewers whose love is the biggest reward for me. In Pakistan, hardly 6 to 7 lakh people watch films that too if it’s a blockbuster and does over 50 crore business. TV is watched by millions and that’s why I try to stay relevant with dramas. When I did Live Insta for the first time last year, the question that most people asked was about my next play and why I don’t do TV anymore.
At a time when Imran Ashraf’s star is on the rise, you chose to work opposite him in Inkaar. Why?
This is not the first time we are working together; a couple of years back we were together in Tau Dil Ka Kia Huwa whereas we worked in another project some nine years back. I was playing the lead and Imran was playing a side role; it was then that I told him that if you continue to work, one day people will recognize your talent and I am glad that those words came true.
He is one of the finest actors we have and had great potential even when he was struggling. It’s a pleasure and honor to share the screen with him mainly because we both believe that acting is about reacting – the better the actor opposite you, the better you will perform. When the trailer of Ranjha Ranjha Kardi was aired, I messaged him that another award was waiting for him and I hope that my words come true again.
In the last episode aired of Inkaar, he dominated everyone as Rehan Chaudhry. How will you tackle the character that is Bad with a huge B?
We all have different shades in Inkaar; it’s not just Rehan Chaudhry who is playing the bad guy. Trust me, when Zafar Mairaj is writing, and Kashif Nisar is directing, then magic is the ultimate product. In the end, if there are good actors in the project, it will help the drama.
Acting is like Test Cricket; every batsman gets a chance to show his skill and in the last episode, it was Rehan Chaudhry, in the coming one it could be Shayan Malik, that’s my character. When the play was offered to me, I asked my director what role he would suggest for me; Kashif Nisar said that he would like to see me as Shayan and that’s why I opted for the role.
I have kept the character subtle because in the last few months, TV has become loud which isn’t right for characters like mine. The layers of characters will be revealed slowly and everyone will have a chance to show how good an actor they are; be it Rehan Sheikh, Noor ul Hassan or even Yumna Zaidi.
Writer Zafar Mairaj and you have reunited after a long time; you won the PTV Awards for Ghar Ki Khatir that was written by him. What is your prediction with this one?
Not every director can do a Zafar Mairaj play because his characters are not just black and white but also grey. He keeps the suspense, reveals characters at his pace and has a backstory for every character be it minor or major. In Inkaar, he has shown conflict at its best – there are three classes in the play – feudal, bureaucrats and lower middle class.
It’s not just a story of a girl and a boy but a play that talks about our social issues. The clash of characters will be revealed soon and I am sure that the audience would love it. Imran’s ‘Rehan Chaudhry’ is correct in his mind while I stand corrected in mine. As for predictions, let the play finish because it has a lot to offer.
Although you have been acting for over 15 years, Inkaar is your second play with Hum TV; any specific reason for that?
Nothing special; Khalil ur Rehman Qamar’s Tau Dil Ka Kia Hua was my first play with them and now I am doing two more with Hum TV – Inkaar and Ishq Zahe Naseeb. I usually choose my projects after reading the script and having a sitting with the director. Kashif Nisar approached me for Inkaar while writer Hashim Nadeem roped me in for Ishq Zahe Naseeb.
I love working with such people who have a realistic approach to TV like me and don’t let it go larger than life. In fact, the romance Kashif Nisar shows in his plays is pure and subtle. There is another plus when you have a good director and that’s working with some of the best actors in the industry such as Rehan Sheikh, Ali Tahir, and Noor ul Hassan. They all get to play on their strength in this play and you will love how we all take the story forward.
Tell us something about Ishq Zahe Naseeb and the character you play in it?
That is not to be disclosed at the moment; all I can say is that Hashmi Nadeem has written the script while Farooq Rind will be directing it. I am part of the story as is Zarnish Khan, Zahid Ahmed and Sonya Hussyn and all I can say is that it will surprise you big time.
How do you manage when people come to you and praise you when your character is positive, and criticize you when it has shades of grey in a play?
My mother told me not to do characters like Hassan in Khudgharz … she didn’t like me in the role which means that I did my job well. Similarly, when I die in a play, she doesn’t like that either. As for fans, if they hate me for playing the bad guy or love me for being a good person, I take it as a compliment for a job well done.
Actors work for awards in Pakistan and you have won two of the biggest we have – Tamgha e Imtiaz and PTV Best Actor award. How do you feel about that?
I am thankful to Allah that the very awards I saw legends holding when I was young are now part of my cupboard. The PTV Award I won was for Zafar Mairaj’s Ghar Ki Khatir where I played a misguided youth who becomes a terrorist and tells his story from his perspective while writing a book in prison.
As for Tamgha-e-Imtiaz, it was an honor to be considered for such a medal at Government level a few years back, and I am very happy for Mehwish too who received it last week. I am very happy to have been nominated this year for Khudgharz by Lux Style Awards and hope that the Best Actor wins the award from the nominations.