Zafar Appeal


Zafar Appeal

ALI ZAFAR HAS always lived by the Star Trek tagline, “to boldly go where no man has gone before.

By Asim Qureshi (Inputs by David Light)

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Published: Thu 15 Jul 2010, 12:37 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 12:38 PM

An aspiring painter in his youth, Ali’s passion for the arts led him to become a model, TV actor and an accomplished musician, receiving several industry accolades along the way.

The son of two University of Punjab professors, Ali, 30, has consistently been voted one of Asia’s sexiest men by global publications. A style icon, his worldwide fan base has grown phenomenally since debuting with his film industry inspired album, Huqa Pani, in 2003.

His second album, Masty, firmly planted Ali as one of the most sought after Pakistani pop idols. As a result many sponsorship deals came his way, which led to him being able to shoot the most expensive music video in Pakistan’s history for the track Dekha.

Despite the musical success, finding time to get married and become a father for the first time earlier this year, one of Ali’s career ambitions has always been to act in movies. While quite a few of his countrymen have ventured into Bollywood, none have accomplished the feat he has acquired on his debut: becoming the first Pakistani to be cast as a lead actor. As the much-hyped Tere Bin Laden (TBL) opens worldwide today, we had the pleasure of interviewing Ali.

What’s TBL about and what do you do in the film?

Tere Bin Laden is a one-of-a-kind movie, a bizarre comedy. I am playing a striving Pakistani news reporter who believes in the American dream and wants to migrate to the U.S but is frustrated by visa issues.

By chance he comes across an Osama Bin Laden lookalike and comes up with the idea of producing a fake video in order to become famous with a breakthrough scoop. Unfortunately there are grave consequences as the White House gets involved and dispatches an overzealous secret agent on his trail.

I have three solo songs titled I love Amreeka, Bus Ek Soch and Welcome to Amreeka and of course the ever popular duet Ullu Da Patha with Shankar Mahadevan. Except for Bus Ek Soch, which is my own creation, the film’s music is composed by Shankar and Ehsan & Loy. The music is as crazy as the film.

What made you choose TBL as your debut film?

I am a very impulsive person who believes in doing things out of the ordinary. As far as cinema is concerned I wanted to launch myself unconventionally yet intelligently. Normally, films that come out of Bollywood are mostly romantic. However, this is not a typical film. It defies conventional wisdom, which is how I have lived my life.

An original script is a rare occurrence. Where do you think the inspiration for this story came from?

In my experience the lighter side of Pakistan seldom gets to be portrayed let alone the realistic side of living there. Both Walkwater Media and director Abhiskek (Sharma) made sure that no stones were left unturned to make it look and feel authentic. It was nice to see Karachi being created on the sets of Mumbai with great attention paid to detail. Actors went through extensive workshops in order to learn and speak the modern day Urdu lingo, which was a lot of fun.

The perception of my country that is created mostly by the media is, more often than not, blown out of proportion. It breeds the element of fear, which is being pushed as the only commodity exported out of Pakistan. TBL is a satire. It challenges others’ perhaps myopic viewpoint and the status quo in a hilarious way.

What are your views on becoming the first actor to appear as a lead in a Bollywood film?

In spite of the odds, I feel blessed to have achieved this enormous feat. India is a huge country where every young boy at some point inspires to become a Bollywood hero. Therefore it is flattering, but to be honest I have always believed that something like this was bound to happen sooner or later. Just look at our people, does it take much to figure out the cultural similarities and affinities that we share in spite of our political differences?

Today, I am truly relishing the moment because this is a unique occasion, which makes me very proud of my country. I really want to help create a bridge where talent can flow between Pakistan and India. Bollywood is big enough to accommodate and utilise immensely talented people from all over the world.

At heart are you an actor or a musician or at best both?

I don’t want to be a jack-of-all-trades if that’s what you are referring to, however, if I were to choose between the two then I do admit that my heart lies in music.

Deep down if I were to reveal my soul then you would see me as a creative artist. I like to paint on a canvass as it allows me to be in my own imaginary world and create music notes out of just thin air. I am most passionate about music, which is why I prioritised it as my launching pad. Music is in my blood and I cannot do without it for a single day. However, I love performing on stage and in my videos, because at best, it is an image of me my fans desire. This is why, while shooting for TBL, I found myself to be equally fervent about acting and I couldn’t have asked for more from this fantastic team who made it possible for me to thoroughly enjoy the experience.

Do you have any messages for your fans in Dubai?

This is the first time people will see me on the big screen. I would like to take this opportunity to ask everyone out there to go watch the film as it’s really a unique comedy that does not hurt anyone’s ideology. As for Dubai it is a place where I have found love from people with many different backgrounds and this alone makes it fascinating for me. Dubai would be the perfect place to obtain a cross section of viewer’s responses and I am really looking forward to that.

Tere Bin Laden opens across the UAE today

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