Veteran Omani actor-director Salim Bahwan to release new film after Eid
Salim Bahwan on the set of his new feature, in which he also stars. (Photo courtesy of Muscat Daily)
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Directed by renowned Omani filmmaker Salim Bahwan, and shot locally in Muscat and Musandam, this much anticipated film focuses on both a very local cultural struggle and the universal human story of longing. “It is a love story between Saeed, an assistant captain with the National Ferry Corporation, and Mahra. Both hail from Muscat.
Saeed couldn’t marry Mahra as her father demanded a huge amount as dowry. However, they meet again after many long years during a ferry trip from Muscat to Musandam, which changes their lives.
The movie tells two stories: That of Mahra (the heroine) and that of Mahar (dowry),” Salim, explains. As in his earlier films, Salim will play the lead, Saeed, opposite to UAE actress, Rania Al Ali, who plays Mahra.
Kissath Mahra is Salim’s third directorial venture. His first two films, Baht An Mushtaheel (Search for Impossible) and Maraah Fi Alomer (Once in a Lifetime), were well received by film buffs in Oman. Little wonder, then, that Salim has reasonably good hopes about his third project. “My first film ran to packed houses in Muscat and Sohar for 26 days. The second one fared even better across Oman. Now, I am planning to release Kissath Mahra in theatres in Oman and United Arab Emirates through VoX Cinemas.
Expatriates too can enjoy it as the movie has subtitles in English,” says Salim, whose love affair with movies began at a young age.
After watching a Hindi film starring Dharmendra at the Ruwi Theatre in 1971, a seven year old Salim knew he had found his calling. “As I walked out of the theatre, I made up my mind to become a film star.
Then I put in a lot of hard work to realise my dream.”
Actively taking part in theatre groups during his studies in different countries, upon returning to Oman in 1988, he began landing minor roles in Oman television dramas. Salim’s big break came in 1992, when he was chosen by a renowned Kuwaiti director for the television drama, Akhir Al Ankood (The Last Grape), for which he worked alongside leading actors from the Gulf region. “It was the turning point in my career. I never looked back after it.”
His acting career blossomed and in 2006, he finally got the chance to move from television to the big screen in the first Omani feature film, Dr Khalid Al Zadjali’s Al Boum.
Two years later, he acted in Mark Ratering’s English movie, Pirate’s Blood, as one of six heroes from six different countries. “It was a good learning experience.
Working with professionals from different countries boosted my morale as an actor. I learned valuable lessons about film production.”
As his fame grew, Salim had to make some hard choices. “I rejected a proposal to work with Hollywood star George Clooney in a film that showed Arab society in a negative light,” he says, noting that he would never accept a role in a film that depicted Arabs or Muslims in a negative way. He makes a habit of consulting with the Ministry of Culture before accepting offers from foreign directors.
His yearning to study more about films led him to Bollywood where he became friends with many of the stalwarts of the industry. They took him under their wings and taught him the nuances of directing, which he turned to in 2011.
“I wrote the story for Search for the Impossible with myself in the lead. So I decided to act and direct it, and I am happy that movie fans enjoyed it. The sale of over 3,000 DVDs stands a testimony to their faith in me and my movies.”
Salim learned a lot while directing his first film, and he took those lessons and applied them well when he turned his attention to his next feature, Once Upon A Time. “We brought professionals from Bollywood and I focussed only on the script and direction. The film turned out to be a huge success.”
Third time may just be the charm for Salim, as he has gained maturity as a director, and continues to be a passionate actor, he feels he hit the mark on both counts in Kissath Mahra. “I’ve gotten good feedback...I am sure it will do even better than my previous films.” Fans around Oman can’t wait to see for themselves.
By T. A. Ameerudheen