Amr Saleem Kashmiri is an upcoming charismatic Pakistani actor. His debut film (as a lead) “BOL”, an Urdu-language social issue drama by Shoaib Mansoor, established a new box office record in Pakistani cinema. In August 2011 BOL was released in the US. Kashmiri’s beautifully underplayed performance of Saifi’s character received many accolades, including “Best New Talent” award at this year’s London Asian Film Festival. His other interests are making music and singing.
Interviewed by Moummar Bhatty
Welcome to OpenBeast. Tell us about yourself.
Well my name is Amr Kashmiri, I’m an actor/musician/painter. Acting was always a passion for me and even before getting my break through BOL, I was acting/directing small scale theatre plays. Apart from my acting carrier, I’m also a composer, I record and perform my own tracks and have also been pretty active in the “underground” music scene in Pakistan.
How did “BOL” happen to you?
I did a play with Shah Sharahbeel (well-known for directing Broadway musicals in Pakistan). I played the role of “Foxy” (a stereotypical Bollywood dance choreographer) in the play “Bombay dreams”. And I got my fame through my mimicry of the “dance of Nargis” (Stage dancer). About two years later I got a call from Shah Sharahbeel and he got me in contact with Shoaib Mansoor who was on a hunt for quite some time for someone who would be willing to do Saifi’s role. And that’s how it all started. I gave the audition in his office and got selected.
Talk to us about your role Saifi and the atmosphere on the sets?
The Character “Saifi” is a transgendered child, who is a gifted artist but is born in a family where all the rules go against him. He lives, cut-off from his family, on the top most floor of his house. He learns every little action by observing his five sisters, and is greatly influenced by how they act and carry themselves. When finally he gets a chance to come out of his cage and explore the world he faces a mishap that costs him his life. From day one I was really attracted to my character as I myself knew few people that had the same problem, but could not shout it loud. I felt acting as Saifi was a great chance to voice up for all the Eunuch community and people facing such a problem.
The atmosphere on the sets was amazing. We worked all day and all night long and through all those hours the whole crew and cast was like one big family that helped and supported everyone. The Location was also breathtaking; standing on the rooftop of Nau Nihal Haveli we could see the entire Old Walled City of Lahore light up at night. It was a spectacular view.
What was it like working with the one and only Shoaib Mansoor?
It was a dream come true. I was always a die-hard fan of Mansoor’s work and getting a chance to work with him was more than I could ask for. He helped me a lot in getting to know my character better. He also gave his actors freedom to act. He guided his actors in the beginning and then let the actors do their job. This is very important for a good director/actor relationship and for the actor to express his emotions more naturally.
Now it’s a rapid fire questions round. Are you ready? Describe each of your co-stars from BOL in one word:
I can’t really describe everyone in just one word (smile)
Humaima Malik: Phenomenal Actress
Atif Aslam: Down to Earth person
Mahira Khan: Filled with positive vibes
Iman Ali: Beauty Personified
Shafqat Cheema: A Born Actor
Manzar Sehbai: A person with a lot to learn from
Zaib Rehman: Very Realistic Actress
What do you study at the University of Vermont and describe your future plans?
I’m majoring in Studio Art. The course is a mixture of traditional and graphic art. Right now I have no crystal future plans as such. Just want to get done with my studies and in the mean while if I get an offer for another film or some project with a good script, I’d surely take out time for it. As for Music is concerned I plan to release few of my upcoming tracks and collaborations on the internet this summer.
What are your leisure time activities?
Mostly composing/recording music and painting portraits.
If you could live anywhere where would you build your dream home?
On the coast of Stradbroke island Australian. I’ve been there once, It is utterly divine.
Thank you and we wish you the very best.