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Pakistani pop music star Atif Aslam dives into the film world with his debut in the upcoming movie Bol. He sits down with City Times to discuss his career crossover and why Bollywood needs to step up its game

By Mohamad Kadry (

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Published: Mon 29 Aug 2011, 11:15 AM

Last updated: Tue 23 May 2023, 12:29 PM

THE CONTROVERSIAL FILM Bol may not have been an obvious choice for someone entering the film world for the first time, but musician Atif Aslam prefers it that way. The 28-year-old star is making his film debut with a whisper rather than a flash, cast in a small role in the upcoming Pakistani flick that tackles issues like women’s rights and child exploitation.

He chats with City Times about stepping outside his comfort zone, his problems with Bollywood and why quality will always trump quantity when it comes to his career choices.

Why did you decide to cross-over into film?

I just wanted to explore myself as an actor. I got bored of my music - my commercial music – so I wanted to try something different. The experience was entirely different from what I do in the music videos because you have to deliver dialogues and act in front of the camera. I was a little nervous in the beginning but it worked out pretty well for me.

What was it like the first time you stepped onto the set?

Working with senior artists was very interesting and encouraging for me. I wanted to do more. By the time we finished, I was more encouraged to do it in terms of getting lessons from the director and cast.

Were you nervous about getting into acting?

I’m not considering it right now. I wanted my fans to see the film, just because it’s very intense and nowadays people really don’t have the time for these types of films. They are all into Bollywood and dance and those sort of things. This film is different because it’s catering to a serious social issue and I think it will be very difficult for people to even absorb it - dealing as it is with issues like child molestation and women’s rights. I chose the film intentionally because everyone was expecting me to a do a movie with a larger-than-life heroic image. People have been offering me a lot of things but I am focusing on what I really want to do - create a different image of Atif.

Is this the end of your music career?

I got bored because people want to hear commercial music and I want to produce my kind of music - where I can sit and jam with my band mates. I always like to leave my comfort zone and I try not to repeat myself.

Are you a fan of social media?

It has become a requirement; I hate it but it’s very important for the fans. I believe they have a one-on-one connection with the celebrity, and I like that bit, but I don’t like doing it 24/7. I hate the invention of the Internet.

What was it like working with your co-stars?

The fact that we were working together was enough for me because I’ve grown up watching all of them and they have a certain theatre presence. I got to learn a lot of stuff from them because I never had any formal training. It was overwhelming.

What’s your character like in the film?

My character is the only one who brings joy to the film.

You don’t play a major role in the film. Was this a conscious decision you made when you went in for the part?

Critics and fans have already responded in a very positive fashion.People were not expecting such a debut from me. It’s not that I’m an amazing actor, but my role is very subtle, to the point and not overly done. The film doesn’t revolve around Atif, it revolves around someone else, but Atif was an important part of the film.

What’s your take on Bollywood?

There are pros and cons. It’s amazing how Bollywood is exploding, but sadly, the messages and the entertainment have become stagnant. Bollywood is making formula films and music, which never impresses me. It’s growing, but it’s also killing the music industry. A film will overshadow a pop artist and the artist will die without an industry. Some movies that I enjoy include Dil Chahta Hai and Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. But people don’t want serious films coming in, they want to have entertainment and nothing else. They want six packs, Munnis and Sheilas. I have friends working in Bollywood, they are amazing musicians and actors – I think they can do better.

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