Films or TV, good characters or evil ones, Sami Khan continues to wow his fans wherever he can
Some are good-looking actors, some love to raise the bar and some are a mixture of both. Sami Khan, however, belongs to the third category. Although he began his career in 2004 and debuted as a filmi hero, Sami Khan has made a name for himself on TV. Be it his ‘good’ characters or ‘evil’ ones, the actor has set a higher standard with his stellar performances, and likes to keep his fans guessing with every new character.
This Eid-ul-Azha, he appeared in the horror-comedy Lafangey while also plays the protagonist in the international production Yaara Vey where Aleeze Nasser and Faizan Khawaja will be his co-stars. That’s not all, Sami Khan will also be making his Hollywood debut with his Bashar Momin co-star Faisal Qureshi as well as the Hollywood legend Faran Tahir.
BOLD had a candid chat with the handsome actor who likes to experiment with his looks on TV and plays the good guy in films because he feels that diversifying helps him explore and hone his acting talent, which he then applies to films. Read on:
Sami Khan – The Quintessential boy next door
Ever since he appeared in PTV’s Dil Se Dil Tak in 2005, Sami Khan has been going strong as a lead actor. From winning the coveted Best Actor award from PTV in 2011 for his performance in Ghar Ki Khatir to receiving the Tamgha-e-Imtiaz from the President of Pakistan, the versatile actor has been there, done that. His fans love to see him in the role of a good guy because they feel that such characters suit his personality more. Be it in Jinnah Ke Naam, Dhaani, Aisi Hai Tanhai, Ishq Zah-e-Naseeb, Saraab, or Phaans, Sami has always been able to portray the guy with the golden heart to the best of his abilities.
‘Since I seem more like a happy-go-lucky man, people easily expect me as the good guy and while it results in me getting more positive roles at times it doesn’t help. You see, in Phaans, I had to direct the suspicion toward my character who might or might not have raped the heroine, and since I sometimes play the baddie, I was able to do that convincingly. Had I not crossed over to the dark side in other dramas, no one would have thought that I might be one of the bad guys!’
Sami Khan also feels that if the audience in Pakistan is given a choice, they would love to watch thrillers and murder mysteries as well as traditional melodramas. He believes that with the advent of Netflix and other streaming services, the audience has matured enough and expects actors like him to experiment rather than continue playing the run-of-the-mill stuff.
‘Be it a sweet guy character or a bad boy persona, I am open for them all because I am a performer who needs challenging characters. That’s why I went for the TV serial Mohabbat Daagh Ki Soorat where my character was not the perfect guy since he walked with a limp, and I did the same thing in Dulhan where I turned over a new leaf after ruining a girl’s life. My fans did accept me in such characters but my own mother didn’t because in her opinion when I play the antagonist, the performance is so repelling that she doesn’t sympathize with me.’
Sami Khan – The Antagonist everyone hates
Then why does Sami Khan play characters with shades of grey when his own mother doesn’t like it? ‘Playing a villain or someone who starts the serial as an antagonist and switches sides once he learns his mistake, gives the actor inside me a chance to demonstrate my skills. It’s like batting in a Test match where the batter first assesses the situation, then charges or defends as per the scenario before winning the match with his new-found strategy.’
Whenever the names of the most hated TV villains are compiled, Sami Khan’s name will be on it because of his ruthless performance in Rasm-e-Duniya where he tortured his wife just because his brother wanted to marry her. In Khudgarz, he played the black sheep of the family who destroyed everyone he came across until he realized his mistake while in Dulhan, his character committed the unthinkable act of trading his wife with his cousin’s car, adding the aspect of thrill to the drama.
However, Saraab gave him a chance to play both the good guy and the bad guy, at the same time. The drama revolved around the life of a schizophrenic girl (played by the brilliant Sonya Hussyn) who loves his cousin (Sami Khan) but imagines a life with his imaginary version that appears only to her. Sami Khan plays both the real and imagined version of the character and in some of the scenes even upstaged his fellow co-star by being nothing short of brilliant, because the real one was the good guy, and the imagined one wasn’t.
‘The thrill of playing one character in two different ways was something that excited me the most and director Mohsin Talat and I had a great time creating the two Asfandyars. In some of the scenes, the imagined Asfandyar vanished when the real one entered the frame, and they both were different from each other as they spoke, walked, and even carried themselves differently.’
In his most recent play, Pyar Deewangi Hai, he plays a character that is obsessed with his cousin but loses her to another relative, something that breaks his heart and soul. Fans and critics both have hailed his performance in the play because it is different to his recent dramas, and at times even sympathize with his character Dawood.
‘In Pyar Deewangi Hai, I was allowed to develop my character and despite working on multiple projects, I was given the chance to grow a beard, and become a person who suffers from a broken heart. That added value to my portrayal and while some in the audience want my character to end up with Neelam (since we have worked together in many plays and films), I want them to feel my character’s pain so that they sympathize with him, no matter where or with whom he ends.’
Sami Khan – Back to the big league!
In 2004, Sami Khan debuted as one of the main leads in Rashid Khawaja’s Salakhein opposite Ahmad Butt and Zara Sheikh. The film managed to do good business and was declared a hit but instead of filling the void of a good-looking young hero in films, Sami shifted to TV and didn’t return until 15 years later, with Gumm: In the Middle of Nowhere. The thriller he chose for his comeback didn’t do well at the box office but won him accolades internationally, including best actor at the Madrid International Film Festival and the Creation International Film Festival. Since then, he has been part of the successful Wrong No. 2 and the unsuccessful Kaaf Kangana, while his latest film Lafangey couldn’t leave a mark at the box office.
‘Lafangey was somehow sabotaged by news reports that suggested that it was banned days before its release, which was anything but true. That one incorrect news damaged it big time and many in the audience had no clue that it was being screened in cinemas on Eid-ul-Azha. I still feel that being an attempt toward horror-comedy, it could have been a genre-defining film. It had elements of comedy and horror mixed together and with improved special effects and low-production cost, could have been a trendsetter. My character was that of a youngster who wants to earn money for his ailing mother and seeks the help of three losers in the process who also have their own back stories.’
The actor is supremely confident of his next feature film, Yaara Vey, which will be having a worldwide release in September this year. Sami thinks the film will be a breath of fresh air for the audience, since it’s a film shot in the most picturesque locations, features an amazing soundtrack, and is a United Arab Emirates production that combines the best technicians and artistes from India and Pakistan.
‘Ever since the trailer of Yaara Vey has been unveiled, people have been asking me about the beautiful locations and the fresh feel of the film. Trust me, it will not be like the films we make in Pakistan because it features the talents of both Pakistan and India. My co-star Aleeze Nasser is a wonderful actor while everyone who has seen Dulhan knows the kind of mayhem Faizan Khawaja and I can create onscreen. You can also term this film as a huge moment for me as an actor because I am working with the son (Faizan Khawaja) of the producer (Rashid Khawaja) who introduced me as a film actor, 18 years after it happened.’
And finally, he opens up regarding his second international project, The Window, which will not only reunite him with his Gumm: In the Middle of Nowhere directors Ammar Lasani and Kanza Zia but also grant him his debut in Hollywood.
‘Although I can’t say much about the plot, I would like to say that this film is being made for the Western audience and features Hameed Sheikh, Suhaee Abro, Faran Tahir, Faysal Quraishi and myself. The story revolves around the character played by Suhaee Abro and is based on real events that take place in Pakistan’s northern areas. It will not only provide me a chance to enter Hollywood but understand the way films are made in the West so that when the time comes, I would be able to utilize that experience in Pakistan, be it in films, TV, or both.’
Sami Khan’s notable characters
Buland in Bashar Momin (2014)
Before Mohsin Ali and Badar Mehmood joined hands as writer/director for Ishqiya and Dunk, they came up with this gem of a play where the life of a college-going girl Pakeezah (Sonya Hussyn) turned upside down when some of her private photos, sent to her fiancé Hamza (Sami Khan), were leaked online. After Pakeezah’s mother poisons her and announces her death to the world, Hamza marries her elder sister Kinza (Nadia Khan) out of guilt. However, when it was found out that Pakeezah was alive and recovering from the trauma, as well as fighting a rape case, Hamza rejoices but dies after taking a bullet intended to end her life outside the court. Sami Khan’s performance in that whole sequence from getting shot to dying in the hospital was so convincing that it might end up among the best death scenes of all time!
Hasan in Khudgarz (2017)
If you thought the character in Rasm-e-Duniya was bad, think again because Sami Khan’s Hasan in this Yasir Nawaz play was not only bad but toxic. He was jealous of his adopted brother Junaid (Syed Jibran), forced him to marry his fiancée Ayrea (Amina Sheikh) by leaving her on the night of their wedding, and then married Abeer (Mansha Pasha) but didn’t bring her home as that would anger his parents. His character changed from evil to reformed but that happened too late in the Rida Bilal script, which showed his character’s journey from being the worst person to someone on the path of redemption.
Asfandyar in Saraab (2020)
In what can be termed as one of his finest performances, Sami Khan plays first a boyfriend and later a husband to Sonya Hussyn’s Hoorain who suffers from schizophrenia. He appears both as the imagined Asfandyar and the real one in front of her and plays them both differently thanks to director Mohsin Talat and writer Edison Idrees. While one can’t see any major difference between the two Asfandyars, the imaginary one is manipulative because he isn’t real, whereas the other one is so caring that he even agrees to marry her in an attempt to get her treated properly.