Despite featuring in an array of television and print advertisements of companies the likes of Gillette and Ford, it is the big screen that is Salman Bokhari’s salvation. The Pakistani-American actor’s struggle to make it big in Hollywood began when he was merely eight years old.
His mother would make him watch films such as Gone with the Wind and it was that initial exposure to films that made him dream of being a part of Hollywood. 35 years down the lane, the dream has actually come true, but in a ‘bad’ way.
So far, he has played a terrorist in the film Blood Shot (2013) followed by a role of a thug in Bullet (2014) and if that’s not enough, he plays a gangster in his upcoming feature film Sector 4.
“Being ethnic, it is hard to be a leading man in Hollywood. However, I do foresee a change in the next few years,” Bokhari tells The Express Tribune. “I intend to play the role of a leading man rather than [the usual role of a] bad guy in my upcoming projects.”
Although his place in Hollywood is not as gratifying as was expected, Bokhari seems quite self assured. He is proud of the fact that over a decade of struggle in the world’s biggest industry has not gone in vain. After doing extensive research and following the works of stars such as Sean Penn (who is his favourite actor) and Robert De Niro, he scouted for an agent and finally got a print advertisement contract in 2005. That was the first chapter in his portfolio as a model cum actor, which eventually led him to the big screen.
He lives in Burbank, United States, where Warner Brothers and Disney Studios are located, and is currently visiting his mother in Lahore, Pakistan. “As a kid, I used to tell everyone I met that one day, I will land up in Hollywood. My family and friends used to laugh it off,” recalls Bokhari. “Now, they take me seriously.”
Having said that, Bokhari is pleased by the progress of Pakistani cinema and is surprised by the way the standards of filmmaking have improved over the time. “The quality of films is getting a lot better,” says Bokhari, who is optimistic about working in Pakistani films.
“I’ll definitely opt for a Pakistani film if it’s worthy and has weight to inspire people. The film should stay in the audience’s mind even after it has left the theatre.” Bokhari will be playing a lawyer with a South American accent in his next Hollywood film titled Citizen United. The film is slated to release in 2015.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2014.
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