LAHORE: Few stars get to enjoy a career as diverse Gohar Rasheed’s. The actor arose from relatively humble beginnings, as a member of the supporting casts of various theatre plays, and went on to star in the internationally-acclaimed Pakistani film Seedlings. In fact, he even managed to bag a nomination in the Best Actor category at the New York Film Festival for it, along with a Lux Style Award nod for his work in drama serial Mann Mayal.
Rasheed has been working his way up, slow and steady. “I used to sell cigarettes and earned Rs40,000 back in the day, with which I bought my train ticket to Karachi,” recalled the star, who graduated from Beaconhouse National University (BNU) in Lahore. “I used to ride a bus all the way to II Chundigarh Road to drop off my resume at different TV channels until I was hired as a line producer. My first two stage plays were Moulin Rouge and Bombay Dreams but my most acclaimed performance was as General Ziaul Haq, which got me the recognition.”
The actor shattered fans’ expectations when he accepted challenging roles of the antagonists in serials Digest Writer and Mann Mayal. Most industry experts will agree that his portrayals of a possessive and abusive husband were spot on. “I would consider it a failure on my part if I was stereotyped into a specific category of roles. Negative roles always have more room for one to perform. Villains have to do all the work. The heroes are merely eye candy,” he said.
Many are unaware of this but Rasheed was actually offered a role opposite Sonam Kapoor in last year’s acclaimed Bollywood plane drama Neerja. Unfortunately, he had to decline for the role was that of a terrorist. “I can’t compromise on my identity. I am unapologetically patriotic and believe that everyone should be, regardless of whether they are actors or not,” he said, when asked about the missed opportunity. “If I had done Neerja, it would have implied that Pakistanis are terrorists. We, as actors, have certain responsibility towards the country, which gives back so much to us.”
He continued, “I make sure that any role that I essay imparts a moral lesson of some sort. That, to me, is the victory of an actor. Your work should have an impact on society.” Rasheed went on to reveal how directors often get swayed by low viewership and ask him to play characters that abuse women physically but he always says no. “I have actually taken an oath to never be violent with women on screen. I want to do what I can to change this mindset. I liked the role of Mikail in Mann Mayal because he never abused Maya in the play.”
Rasheed also shared a lesser-known fact about the Pakistani television industry, i.e female actors are paid better than their male counterparts. “These days, female talent is compensated much better and that’s great. It reflects women empowerment.”
This year, Rasheed is gearing up for the release of Yalghaar, which also stars actor Shaan Shahid. Other than that, he is currently busy shooting for Rangreza – a musical love story with Rasheed, Bilal Ashraf and Urwa Hocane in the lead roles. “I am very excited about this film because there haven’t been any musical movies produced after Sargam,” he shared. “I play a qawwal in the film which portrays the struggled musicians in our society face.”
Suffice it to say Rasheed has got plenty on his plate. Soon after Rangreza, he plans to get to work on another film entitled Maidaan, but this time, as a producer. “Maidaan is very close to my heart. It’s about 12 street children who went participated in an under-19 football championship in Brazil back in 2012,” he revealed. “These children have lived it all, from child labour, sexual harassment to drug abuse and rehab. Yet, they managed to score third position in the championship. When I heard of them, I just knew this was a story that had to be told.”
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