It is one thing to win hearts by your talent and another to sweep accolades at several platforms against seasoned filmmakers and actors, garnering worldwide recognition. Saram Jaffery is the new kid on the block who is doing just that! He is the recent one to make waves in the international media with his successful streak and has presented a positive and progressive image of Pakistan through art.
The actor’s short film — One Last Shot — has taken over the international film festivals circuit by winning multiple awards, hence opening a new market for Pakistan’s digital content globally.
One Last Shot has won in the United States of America at New York Film Awards 2020, Los Angeles Film Awards 2020 for Best Acting, Best Drama and Best Narrative. If you think this is a big achievement then hold on for more as the list of the accolades is just starting; the film has also won Best Canadian Short Film and Viewers Choice Award at the Toronto International Nollywood Film Festival, Best Romantic Drama in India at Calcutta International Cult Film Festival and at Oniros Film Awards in Italy.
Saram, who hails from Lahore, is quite passionate about acting and filmmaking. He was a child star and appeared in few drama serials on PTV. His fondness for acting grew bigger with time and then he ventured into theater and received formal training from Humber College, Toronto while he continued to appear in several independent short films and theatre. For those who aren’t familiar with his name, his first commercial break was 2018 Pakistani feature film Na Band Na Baraati, which starred Mikaal Zulfiqar and Ali Kazmi amongst others.
In an exclusive conversation with Something Haute, the budding actor shared how he is feeling after receiving this overwhelming response.
“It is very overwhelming and encouraging. The way the film has been garnering all the attention at the international film festival circuit has really strengthened my belief that art is borderless. It has its own language to communicate with the viewers,” Saram said.
As the writer and director, who has also written screenplay, dialogues and arranged music for his first short, Saram is quite a hidden talent. One Last Shot is his first leading role as well as digital debut and he has already made a mark in the competitive global film market where his film was nominated with many acclaimed films of the world.
One Last Shot is based on a struggling musician’s life who comes from a South Asian background. Inspired by real-life stories, Saram Jaffery essays the lead role of a struggling musician (Faraz) who is trying to make ends meet and makes bad choices along the way which puts his relationship with his loved ones in jeopardy.
How did you come up with the idea of writing a short film and did you ever think that it will be such a big hit?
“Streaming platforms now dominate the content distribution market and provide an opportunity to reach a global audience. I always felt there are many untold stories from our culture and diaspora that needed to reach a bigger audience. With that in mind, I started working on this little idea of a struggling artist’s journey, who comes from a South Asian background. I think none of us from the entire cast and crew imagined that the film would receive such an overwhelming response. The film really is inspired by personal observations and experiences, and I think that’s one of the reasons it is really connecting with everyone because it feels very personal,” he said.
You have written, directed, acted and arranged music for the film as well. What was the reason behind donning all hats in your debut project?
“This film marks my first lead role but it’s also my directorial debut in the mainstream. Since the story was inspired by many real-life experiences and observations, it became very personal being an artist and it felt like I needed to step in as a director as well to tell the story in a way I have imagined it,” he shared adding, “Music plays a huge part in this film as it is a ‘romantic musical drama’ and the protagonist is a musician himself. I feel music plays a huge role to direct your viewers and emphasize emotions in your story. I have always had a very strong connection with music; this film gave me an opportunity to not only explore that connection on a deeper level but also gave me more control as a storyteller to use the music to my advantage to direct my viewers.”
Although Saram appears to be more inclined towards films and digital content, it is undeniable that Pakistan’s TV industry is more established and thriving right now. We asked if the actor has any plans to work in local dramas?
“I am really happy to see the growth Pakistani drama and film industry had in the last couple of years. I have a couple of projects lined up after One Last Shot, some of them will be partially shot in Pakistan. I am definitely looking to get more involved locally in Pakistani TV industry and be a part of this new wave of actors and filmmakers that will play a huge role in introducing Pakistani film and dramas to a global audience. Being a Pakistani, wherever I go or whatever I will do, I will always be representing Pakistan. One Last Shot was a little effort to do that and I will continue to work in that direction,” Saram said.
Talking about his fellow actors in the short film, Saram shared that the short also marks Canadian-Pakistani model Anika Zulfikar’s acting debut who is playing the female lead. She has won the Best Actress Award and Best Duo Award at the New York Film Awards for her role. Veteran Pakistani actor, Zuhair Raza Jaffery, known for his roles in Ainak Wala Jinn and Zameen, is the antagonist of the film.
“She really loved the idea of the film initially when she was approached to play Zara (Faraz’s love interest), but after hearing the music of the film she was completely sold on the project and decided to take up the role,” he said.
What’s next for the actor?
“I am currently working on a feature film that focuses on mental health issues. I feel like it is one of those topics that is always either ignored or joked about. I want to use the medium of film to address that. Other than that, I am also working on an immigrant drama web series and a psychological thriller web series,” he shared.
One Last Shot is available to watch in the USA and UK on Amazon Prime Video.
You can watch the trailer here: