Very few actors take their careers steadily and slowly to the right path. Actor Sami Khan has taken his entire acting career of 18 years steadily and has put together an extensive repertoire of work.
Sami Khan has given their audience some great and memorable roles that they still recall. Such as the gritty Sabz Pari Laal Kabootar from back in 2012, the emotional rollercoaster Aisi Hai Tanhai in 2017, a pivotal role in the groundbreaking Ishq Zah-i-Naseeb in 2019, 2021’s psychologically harrowing Saraab, and the currently on-air Dil Zaar Zaar.
He also delivered a strong performance in the 2019 film Gumm as a distraught father succumbing to a life of crime.
But on the other hand, there are some inevitable roles that no one can avoid too. Sami Khan recently sat down with a local publisher where he shared his journey in the showbiz industry.
Sami Khan speaking about his acting career
Sami Khan put some light on some groundbreaking scripts and along with that others 10 revolvings entirely around domestic politics and extra-marital affairs.
“It’s important to always be patient. Sometimes you get offered great roles and sometimes you wait for ages but no unique script comes your way. The audience tends to blame actors for taking on run-of-the-mill roles but what they don’t realize is that this is our bread and butter. Ultimately, we have to continue working.
Sami Khan is undoubtedly one of the finest and most genuine actors in our industry. On accepting the lows of a mercurial profession with equanimity and is willing to wait for the highs that can keep his fire burning.
“I feel that every year, I need to do at least one role that keeps the inner actor in me alive. The other roles can help the external actor, the one who needs to pay the bills and run a home.”
He further added, “It does, sometimes, especially because we now have access to OTT platforms and are aware of the kind of work that is being done internationally. Still, it’s important to remember that this is all part of this career,” Sami shrugs.
Sami Khan was also nominated for 2021 PISA Awards for his exceptional in Saraab.
There is a world beyond social media – Sami Khan
Being an actor is surely not an easy task to do, because on one side where it comes with some great perks, but on the other hand, it has cons too. Sami Khan’s prowess is undeniable. His popularity and fan base extend far beyond social media. And on social media Sami Khan got some real words to share.
“There is a world beyond social media,” he points out to me, “although sadly, a lot of people now look at social media followings as a benchmark for an actor’s success.”
On actors taking sponsored or corporate deals. Sami Khan said, “Earlier, actors who were good at what they did were taken on board. Now, the ones with large social media followings are often lauded.”
He continues, “For me, social media doesn’t hold much charm. I may sometimes become active when it’s required of me to promote a project. But otherwise, I like to stay in my shell and don’t want to constantly put myself out there.”
When an interviewer asked, In front of the camera, the shell fades away fast enough though. How do you prepare for a role?
“When I read a script, I try to feel the character that I’ll be playing. Even before signing on to a role, I discuss the drama with the director so that I can understand the vision behind the story. Then, I start thinking about the character so that, when I’m finally in front of the camera, the dialogues come naturally to me.”
‘We learn to adapt’ – Sami Khan
Does this mean that you only take on one script at a time? “That usually isn’t possible in our industry and the great thing is that, as actors, we learn to adapt,” he says. “We really can’t compare our acting methodologies to those in Bollywood and Hollywood. Those are bigger industries catering to bigger markets and, therefore, they have bigger budgets.
He added, “Actors there can afford to set aside their schedule for a single project. Here, limited finances usually don’t allow us to sign on to a single drama at a time. I make it a point not to shoot scenes of two different dramas in a single day.
I also try to shoot in spells of 10 or 15 days so that, for a particular period, I’m focusing on just one storyline. We really can’t compare our acting methodologies to those in Bollywood and Hollywood. Those are bigger industries catering to bigger markets and, therefore, they have bigger budgets.”
He also put some light on roles that he considers best to date. “There are a few,” he ponders. “One of them is Ghar Ki Khaatir, a PTV play which aired before the social media era and so isn’t very well-known now.
It was produced by PTV Quetta Centre and told the story of a nomad who eventually turns into a terrorist. I was awarded the Tamgha-i-Imtiaz for the drama. It tackled a proper social issue and was a far cry from the usual saas-bahu stories.”
He continues, “I also enjoyed working in Aisi Hai Tanhai and in Tau Dil Ka Kya Hua, where I had to walk a very fine line with my character.”
‘I love getting feedback’ – Sami Khan
The interviewer made the interview lighter by asking him about the feedback he gets from the audience when they bump into him. He said, “We live in a world where people have very short attention spans, so usually they just discuss whatever play is airing on TV at the time. Aisi Hai Tanhai gets mentioned a lot.
I love getting feedback from fans in person. It’s very genuine, unlike the observations made by social media’s invisible keyboard warriors.
“Once I was at a store and an older lady stopped me and asked me, ‘Beta, Sara ka kya hoga’ [What will happen to Sara]? I thought that she was asking about my sister-in-law Sara, and I got confused.
Then she continued, ‘but you divorced her’. That’s when I realized that she was talking about a drama that was airing on TV at the time. Some fans do watch dramas that seriously!
“And recently, I was in interior Sindh and these young boys on set kept mentioning my character in Dil Zaar Zaar which is airing right now. They kept talking about how he behaves and talks. This is the real drama audience which watches TV religiously.”
‘I am very careful’ – Sami Khan
Sami Khan on the current TV drama rating and commercial scripts shared his side. He expressed that he’s very cautious when it comes to typical commercially viable scripts.
He said, “I’m careful, yes,” he says. “I have a daughter of my own and I try to opt for storylines that empower women. Still, it’s important to take into account what a slap in a drama is trying to depict. Sometimes, it acts as a mirror to society.
“I was once shooting a scene in a house in DHA in Karachi, where the groom slaps the bride on their wedding night. I had my reservations and I had argued with the director that this doesn’t happen in reality. However, the owner of the house started crying while we were shooting, confessing that the same had happened to her.”
When the interviewer asked about enacting roles that rely on bawdy humor, such as in Wrong No. 2, which was his movie which was a commercial hit but featured plenty of suggestive, racy jokes?
“Cinema is a completely different medium,” he points out. “People have the option to go and buy a ticket and see a movie [or not] and they have some idea about the kind of movie it will be, based on the trailer. Wrong No. 2 was a movie for the masses, and it did extremely well at the box office.
“I saw it with my family and we laughed while seeing it, just like we do when we see a similar kind of Bollywood or Hollywood movie. What I found strange was that we easily accept such international movies and they even do well in our cinemas but, as soon as a Pakistani movie is made along the same lines, we take offense. Having said this, we always knew that we couldn’t cross certain lines with the movie, and we didn’t.”
‘I learned a lot’ – Sami Khan
Apart from Wrong No.2, Kaaf Kangana was also his movie that received endless criticism. According to Sami Khan, “There were problems with Kaaf Kangana but I learned a lot from it,” he says.
“Khalil-ur-Rehman Qamar is a great writer. Perhaps, if the script had been in the hands of a better director [Qamar was also the director], it could have been a much better movie. Yes, the songs and screenplay could also have been improved.”
The female lead of the movie changed multiple times when asking if he ever face any issues of his own with Qamar, the movie’s writer, director, producer, and songwriter extraordinaire?
He said, “I keep to myself and I think that helps avoid conflict,” Sami observes. “I remember I dubbed for the movie and then left without checking it. Khalil sahib called me and asked me to come and check it. When I did, there was a lot that I could improve upon. For me, it was a learning experience.”
And then, when the movie didn’t do well, how did he feel? He says, “I had done my work and there was nothing that I could do at that point. I let it be.”
Sami Khan’s future looks bright because this year his two big major films are set to release. Film Yaara Vey is scheduled to release on June 17 this year. Another film, Lafangay, is slotted for an Eid-ul-Azha release.
Not only that, but he also starred in The Window, and is the first Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG)-approved script to be shot in Pakistan.
Even after 18 years in the industry, he still holds a youthful personality and appearance. On what’s the secret behind it, he said “I’m lucky,” he admits. “Bollywood director Subhash Ghai once told me that, during casting, an actor’s screen age is considered rather than the actual age, i.e., how old he or she looks on screen. I suppose I have a young screen age.”
There have been times, though, when Sami has had to bear criticism related to his looks. He recalls acting in the drama Inkaar in 2019, at a time when he was suffering a spate of bad health. “People started commenting on social media that I looked strange and it was very hurtful at the time,” he says.
Sami Khan concluded the interview by reflecting on his roles, “I don’t make any tall claims about the work that I do,” he says, “but I try to do good, distinctive work whenever I can.”
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