[Express Tribune] Rashid Sami: The common man’s director

Saadia Qamar

KARACHI: Ask anyone about the good old days of Network Television Marketing (NTM) and they’ll surely remember the soap opera “Jaal” and its villainous character Dr Farooq. But the man behind Dr Farooq’s larger-than-life character is Rashid Sami — an actor, director and producer who has been involved in a range of versatile ventures for a long while.

While “Jaal” served to be his groundbreaking acting debut, directing “The Sunday Brunch” for PTV proved to be another unforgettable milestone in his career as it was the first time the process of non-linear editing was used in a Pakistani production. Sami claims, “Both were landmarks in the history of Pakistani television and I am glad I was directly involved with both projects.”

Sami, an engineer by profession, recalls, “Although my real passion was always performing arts, it was on my family’s insistence that I opted for a degree in engineering. But nothing could take away my love for acting, direction or production.”

Currently, he is busy producing a play for the Express Entertainmentchannel called “Rok Lo Aj Ki Raat”. Regarding the experience, Sami says, “My mother is originally from Baltistan which is why I always wanted to do something regarding this region.” The drama is based on the concept of the trout fish, which is born in the lake up north, goes south for a living. It returns to its place of origin, lays eggs there and dies. Similarly, the story of the play focuses on the life of a girl born in Baltistan, who moves to Karachi to live with her adopted parents, but eventually goes back home to die.

“I have the passion for creativity, which is fragile, like a human soul,” adds Sami. “A good play, narrated in a literary language like Urdu, brings out its colourful facets and always keeps me inspired.”

In order to make his dramas more realistic and to understand the deeper meaning of life, Sami says, “I would travel in buses, amongst the sight, sounds and often smells. I would sit for hours at a railway platform to observe how people travelled. That’s how I got a first-hand idea of the pickpockets, eavesdroppers and the way the general public lives and their numerous issues.”

On the state of today’s drama making Sammi states, “These days, it’s a sad combination of really good writers working with a set of poor directors. What we require is an influx of new talent to produce an overall better quality of work.”

Talking about his future plans, Sami plans to relocate his Kohinoor Studio, based in Korangi, to a locality in Karachi’s Defence area. But most of all, Sami wants to venture in films, and not restrict himself to working on TV only.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2011.

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