Talent Focus: Gohar Rasheed has arrived


Screen-grab from PEL advertisement

As you may have guessed from my Rangreza trailer review, I have fallen completely and hopelessly in love with Gohar Rasheed. Balancing the madness of his character to absolute perfection, he is a joy to watch.

From Rangreza’s teaser

But he has always been a joy. And while I am really happy that he is finally getting the kind of appreciation that he deserves, I am also a bit perturbed that more people weren’t fans already.

In fact, it would be fair to say that he has inspired this new segment. Every couple of days, I’ll be writing about stars that deserve a bit more of the limelight. This time around, let’s talk about the incredible Mr. Rasheed and how he found his way to the equally memorable Waseem.


Indie Darling

Gohar Rasheed is one of the few actors who didn’t just fall into the business. He actually wanted to do exactly what he is doing. While studying at the Beaconhouse National University, he majored in theatre, film and television. After this, he went onto partake in the local theatre scene and eventually made his way to television.

But it would be fair to say that the first project that brought him widespread acclaim was his role in the independent film Seedlings (Lamha). The film focuses on a young couple dealing with the aftermath of a tragedy.

It is a decidedly subtle film. It lacks the hyperbole that had by 2013 come to represent Pakistani productions. Hence, Rasheed’s sensitive portrayal of a frustrated rickshaw driver who is caught in the web of catastrophe is simply powerful and undeniably beautiful.

This role also bagged him a best actor nomination at the New York Film Festival.


Revamping General Zia

When one thinks of General Zia Ul Haq, the immediate response isn’t laughter. That is unless you have a warped sense of humour. And yet leave it to Anwar Maqsood to prove all of us wrong. For his play Sawa 14th August Mr. Maqsood did what he does best.

It also included the rather unexpected casting of Gohar Rasheed as one of the country’s most divisive personalities. But it worked.

He had been involved in the theatre scene for a while when this opportunity presented itself. But this 2013 sequel to an earlier play became a magnum opus of sorts.

How he shed his baritone and slipped into the high pitched cadence of the General so easily, I will never understand. But everyone loved every minute of it.



Mr. Rasheed has had an interesting relationship with television.

For an interview, he reportedly said, “Films and theatre are my domain, TV needs to grow up first…” Yes. Savage.

Of course in my book, this makes him all the more interesting since as you know, I love people who say whatever they want.

But, television has also been good for him. He has acted in more than a few productions, most of which have been really popular. His stint as Mikaeel for the serial Mann Mayal is easily his most popular television role.

I am not the biggest television aficionado. Watch my video essay about Humsafar for proof. And Mikaeel is a quintessential TV villain. But despite this, the role presents Rasheed’s talents to perfection for the simple reason that he is playing the polar opposite of himself.

If you watch his interviews, he is obviously a lovely person. He appears to be really bubbly, forthcoming and polite. Mikaeel in contrast is a human parasite; he sucks the good out of life and is relentless. Yet Mr. Rasheed plays the role and plays it really well.


Waseem Aya Hai  

Okay, I’m going to say this now so that I can brag about being first; this is going to be the performance of the year. And might I also add that no one else could have done a better job.

While watching the trailer, my sister said that he reminded her of Kamal Hassan in Sagar.

Kamal Hassan in Sagar (1985)

Particularly in this bit.

From Rangreza’s Trailer

Because he seemed really jovial and loveable.


I actually had Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire flashbacks.

Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Because Rasheed is willing to go there.

From Rangreza’s trailer

And I realize that we were over analyzing what is basically less than a minute of his performance. But some things you can gauge from a film trailer. Whether an actor is invested in his role is one of them. And the fact the way people were reacting to his performance proved that we weren’t his only fans.

In my trailer review, I mentioned that I’d watch the film just for him. A few days after writing that article, I realized that other people felt the same way. Every review was raving about his obviously nuanced and no-holds-barred performance. Hashtags about his character began trending and homages began popping up everywhere.

With a raspy,

“Reshmi Tujhay Kisnay Sataya Hai?

Ussay Ja Kay Bol,

Waseem Aya Hai…”

Gohar Rasheed finally walked into the nation’s heart.

It was really heartwarming to see local audiences respond so genuinely. It also gave an indication of what cinema has the potential to become. Give us a really well-crafted character and an engaging performance and you won’t have to convince us to buy the ticket.



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