Agam Darshi Talks Directing CBC’s Allegiance

Agam Darshi Talks Directing CBC’s Allegiance

In addition to appearing onscreen this season in CTV’s new drama, Sight Unseen, Agam Darshi was also working behind the scenes as story editor and director on CBC’s Allegiance and director on Global’s Family Law. In the next part of our conversation, we talk about those projects.

The timing worked out for Darshi to be mostly LA-based while working on Allegiance before shooting Sight Unseen. “It was so perfect. I was part of the Allegiance writer’s room and then a month later found out that I booked Sight Unseen. After I finished Allegiance, then I started that, and then maybe 10 days after [we wrapped] I went on to doing prep [to direct] Allegiance,” she recalls.

“I did go up to Toronto [for Allegiance] for about a week, but they were able to accommodate me in my life [in LA]. It was my first time being invited into the writer’s room. I was there from the very beginning, for the first eight weeks when we were breaking the stories and figuring out what the cases were and who the characters are.”

“I didn’t write an episode, but I was there with everyone else, trying to figure out what it is that this show is about.”


“It was just so eye-opening and enlightening. And I loved working with Anar Ali, who created the show. She’s been writing this thing for a number of years and she had such incredible ideas in terms of what she wanted to do with the show, who the characters were. And so we just basically built upon that.”

Darshi says working to shape the story was instrumental when it was time to direct. “It definitely helped when I got to be a director because I understood the nuances that we were talking about. And I can’t help but think visually, so I was already thinking visually in the writer’s room. By the time we got to the directing, there were certain things that I wanted to explore, specifically for my episode,” she points out.

“It was a wonderful experience. Supinder [Wraich] was such a dream to work with and just really embraces that role so well. She’s Sikh Punjabi herself. She knows the language, and she’s really smart and she was able to bring a lot of her own experiences, her own opinions, and her own thoughts to a character so that the character just became even more dialed in and authentic. I’m really, really proud of the show. I think it’s something that Canadian TV needs.”



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Darshi loves that Allegiance mixes the family drama and procedural aspects. “What’s unique about the show, I think, is the fact that it is a procedural, it’s a different case every week, but the b storyline is just as important, if not more,” she says.

“So in some ways, it propels our main character, Sabrina, forward, and it really anchors who this woman is and who her family is, which is ultimately what makes this so show so special. It was fascinating.”


Earlier this season, Darshi also lent her directing talents to the penultimate episode of Family Law‘s third season, which had a euthanasia arc. She says jumping into an established show with preset guardrails was a different experience than directing on a new series. “It is such a, well-oiled machine, so by the time I came in to direct an episode, they were in season three, and they knew who they were and they knew everyone’s roles. We had the amazing Susin Nielsen, who is the showrunner, and we had Andy Mikita, who is the director producer, so he’s there from beginning to end. And he was very much a mentor of mine,” she shares.

“I was very familiar with the show because I had actually auditioned for it a bunch of times, but I also watched the first two seasons completely, so I knew what I was getting into. I knew the tone of what it was, and in some ways easy because everybody knew what they were there to do. I was really, really lucky because I got to work with Sonja Bennett, who wrote that episode, and a lot of what was written was based on her own grandmother.”



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“I just love her writing. I’ve seen her work before in the past, and so I just think she’s a very honest writer and she writes from the heart and I think the kind of directing and storytelling that I tend to do also leans that way. So it felt really good to be able to work that way.”

Allegiance was a little different in that because it was the first season, we hadn’t aired yet, so we were [asking], ‘What is the voice of this?’ And it was in some ways very clear, but you still don’t know until you actually have a season completely shot and ready and mapped out and out there.”

“It was very collaborative and it was also shifting as we went along as well.”


“It was a different kind of experience, but also incredibly fruitful and rewarding working with the showrunners and with the other writers, but then also being able to be a director and working with actors who, for the most part, a lot of them were my peers who I’ve worked with before in the past or whose work I’ve also really appreciated. So that was super interesting. It was definitely a different vibe.”

While Darshi was thrilled to bank two director slots this season, she also loves continuing to act. “I absolutely love acting, but I think I’ve done it for so long that I definitely was in a moment, a number of years ago, where I just felt perhaps more frustrated with the process of booking the job or even sometimes what the job was like. I just wasn’t as satisfied,” she recalls.

“And I think what writing and directing does is that it just allows me to use a different part of my brain and a different sort of talent that I might have so that I’m able to get more joy out of acting and vice versa. When I act, I get really excited to go back to writing.  I find writing incredibly difficult and I have so much respect for writers, but I do really love the process of being able to excavate and dig deep and find answers and get surprised by where certain stories lead me.”

“And then directing for me is also incredibly joyous when you’re actually able to take something that’s on a page and bring it to life, and collaborate with other talent.”


As for whether she’d return for a second season Allegiance, she looks forward to the opportunity, should scheduling allow. “I would obviously love to work again on that show and with those people. At the moment,” she says. “I’m just writing my own stuff and seeing kind of where that takes me, and what that turns into.”

Darshi’s episode of Allegiance, written by Sarah Dodd and Manny Mahal, with guest stars Yuvraj Kalsi,  Rohain Arora, SkyMed‘s Praneet Akilla, and Aliza Vellani airs linearly this Wednesday at 9 pm on CBC, and streaming on CBC Gem beginning at 9 am, where you can also catch up on the season so far.

Here’s the logline for the episode called “Fallen Idols”: When a known gang member survives a drive-by shooting, the police race to prevent a bloody retaliation. Sabrina and Vince are thrust deep into the lives of a magnetic community volunteer trying to curb the violence, a stoic gangster trying to escape it, and a disillusioned youth eager to embrace it.

Sight Unseen is streaming now on CTV in Canada and begins its US run this Wednesday at 9 pm/8c on The CW. You can stream “Catch 22,” Darshi’s episode of Family Law, on The CW in the US. We’ll update when it has a Canadian airdate on Global.

Photo courtesy of CBC.

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