For years Sami Khan has been the face of Eternal Youth on TV; not many know that the actor made a transition to TV after delivering a hit film Salakhain in 2004 where he played an honest cop in search for his wife’s ex-fiancé played by model turned actor Ahmed Butt. Not only did he lip-synced to Sonu Nigam’s voice but also made a hero look fashionable by carrying forward the rich man look to perfection. However, he found stardom on TV where he did all kinds of roles from playing the good son, the bad son to good lover and a really bad husband. After a sabbatical of 15 years from films, Sami Khan returned to the big screen with Gumm and although it wasn’t a commercial film, it did become watchable for his expressive acting. The News Tribe got hold of Gumm’s Angry Young Man and spoke to him about his upcoming projects, his comeback to films and above all, his experience of working in both films and TV.
The News Tribe: What made you do a film like Gumm after 15 years of avoiding films?
Sami Khan: As an actor, I have always supported projects that have helped me grow; after Salakhain in 2004, I didn’t get any good film script so decided to try my hand on TV and that move has helped me immensely. Since the last few years, we are producing good films, the trend of watching films in cinema has restarted and the cinema industry is growing as well and that’s why I decided to give Gumm a try. The basic purpose of the film was to be sent to festivals and not a commercial release and after it had completed its festival run and won many awards, the producers decided to release it in the cinemas. In fact, when I signed the contract I asked them to mention the festival-release-before-cinema into it and I am thankful that they honored their commitment. The concept was good, it was an action thriller film, the kind that isn’t produced much in Pakistan and sadly we don’t have thrillers on TV so when the opportunity presented itself forward, I accepted it.
The News Tribe: How was the experience of shooting an experimental film with a handful of actors and crew?
Sami Khan: It was a different experience because usually our films aren’t low budget or shot in quick time. We had 20 – 23 days to shoot Gumm during which I learned a lot of things; I am pleased to have shared the screen with Shamoon Abbasi, whose energy is very strong and who becomes the character as soon as we entered the jungle for the shoot. People did like our chemistry as the protagonist and the antagonist and I must give the directors the credit for that. The best thing about the director duo of Ammar Lasani and Kanza Zia is that they aren’t from our industry and had a different approach to filmmaking than we had experienced before. Their different vision and approach helped them win so many awards in international film festivals; box office wise it wasn’t that successful because it was more of an experimental film than a commercial one.
The News Tribe: How did you prepare for the role of a guy who suffers from amnesia and is injured as well, while stuck in a mountainous region?
Sami Khan: The first thing I did was to unlearn everything I knew about the character and that was the most important thing for me. In order to portray a person with amnesia, I had to act as if I knew nothing and that supported the character. Believe me, the mountain was a strong character in itself and that helped too; when we were shooting in the car, I actually stuck my leg to get the feel of the character. Yes, there was the pain but that’s because I wanted to feel it. There were a few things that I – Sami Khan – didn’t do but were done by Asad, the character I was playing.
The News Tribe: There is some controversy regarding the film resembling Adrian Brody’s Wrecked; how did you make your character different from that in the Hollywood original?
Sami Khan: I am a huge Adrian Brody fan since The Pianist but somehow I missed Wrecked and when I got to know that Gumm was like Wrecked, I deliberately avoided watching it because I wanted to keep the character as much as mine. Later on, after the shoot, I saw the film and could tell that our version was different as in the subcontinent, the actors are more expressive than they are in the West. I am sure the audience will agree with me after watching Gumm and that whether I was able to do justice to my character and how different it was from the Hollywood film.
The News Tribe: You also have two more films slated for a release this year – it wouldn’t be wrong to term 2019 as your comeback year, right?
Sami Khan: As for the comeback is concerned, my aim was to make a comeback through a commercial film and that’s why I don’t consider Gumm as a comeback venture. Yes, it did register me as a film actor but I would prefer Kaaf Kangana and Wrong No. 2 as my proper comeback films since they both have the ingredients of a well-budgeted flick, feature a good soundtrack and will be properly marketed like any commercial film. Gumm was more into the parallel cinema category, hence got released without any fanfare. I signed Kaaf Kangana with Khalil Ur Rehman Qamar first and later Yasir Nawaz’s Wrong No 2 and both the films are huge as the former is a master writer’s directorial debut and the latter is an established brand with a changed cast. They both are in the completion phase and we can keep our fingers crossed as to which one will see the light of the day first. Whichever it would be, I am confident that it will do well because that’s the genre cine-goers appreciate in Pakistan.
The News Tribe: It isn’t common in Pakistan for an actor to work in both films and TV at the same time? How do you manage to do that and do justice to both the formats?
Sami Khan: After Aisi Hai Tanhai, I didn’t do any TV projects since I was involved with films; however thankfully my plays Wo Mera Dil Tha and Khudgarz continued to be on air in 2018. My main focus was on films but since my films are near completion, I have taken up two TV projects, because, in Pakistan, that’s the bigger medium. Whenever I meet my fans, they ask me about my next play so they will be glad to know that I have signed Kashif Nisar’s Inkaar that also features Yumna Zaidi and Imran Ashraf and has been penned by the great Zafar Meraj. I will disclose the other project soon where I would be working with my favorite writer Hashim Nadeem and director Farooq Rind.
The News Tribe: Isn’t it strange to work in two formats simultaneously especially after when you have a couple of films ready for release?
Sami Khan: No one can stay away from TV in Pakistan because that’s the bigger medium here; I am doing it after a year because that’s the medium that creates stars in Pakistan. For Fawad Khan and Mahira Khan, the game changer was Humsafar, for Hamza Ali Abbasi it was Pyare Afzal, for Fahad Mustafa Jeeto Pakistan and so forth. An actor should be comfortable working in all formats and that’s exactly what I am trying to do.
The News Tribe: Given the chance, with which co-star of yours will you work in a film in a heartbeat?
Sami Khan: I really want to work with Saba Qamar in a film; we have worked in a number of plays on TV but I want to share the large screen with her. I also had a great time working with Neelam Muneer in Wrong No. 2 as she is a very good soul and is full of positive energy; would love to work with her too in the future.