The singer and movie star talks to The National about the importance of his film career and being a Pakistani actor in Bollywood
Ali Zafar on music and setting new standards with the new Pakistani film Teefa in Trouble
After setting hearts aflutter last year with his role in the drama Dear Zindagi, Pakistani singer and actor Ali Zafar will return to the UAE on Friday for a performance at Dubai Tennis Stadium. Headlining the bill alongside Indian singer Ayushmann Khurrana, the show is part of the popular MTV India Unplugged series of concerts held regularly in the UAE.
“It is always amazing performing in the UAE and I have lot of great memories from my shows there,” he says. “The amount of love I receive makes me really grateful. Also, UAE crowds know how to party which always gets me excited.”
Last time you were seen in the UAE was in the Shah Rukh Khan film Dear Zindagi. You performed a few soulful acoustic ballads in that film. Would you say the film provided you with greater exposure as a singer as well an actor?
You can say that. I did sing two songs in that film and I think that a great many people didn’t see that side of me. The songs in those film were quite a delight and a bit of departure for me. They do have a connection to my work in that I always like to be versatile and explore various genres of music. A good example of that is my work on the music TV show Coke Studios where I sang the song Jaan e Baharan but mixed it with Spanish melodies and an Arabic beat.
How is work on the fourth album going?
That is always an interesting process because with each album you learn more about yourself and how you do things. I found that with each new album I have new things to say. And that is always comforting because it shows that you are always evolving. So yes, it is still a work in progress.
You made your name as a singer with the big 2003 hit Channo. Upon reflection, what was about that song that made people take notice?
You can never really put your finger on why certain songs work out like that. I think that song came with something new to the table at that time. Perhaps it was the arrangements or the way it was sung that struck a chord with people in some way. I am lucky that this song did that.
You presently wrapped up shooting your first Pakistani film Teefa in Trouble. How was that experience?
I would say that it was the most challenging and most satisfying experience of my life. There was a lot of challenges in that we set out to shoot and make a film that hasn’t been done before in Pakistan. The aim was to set new standards and show our culture internationally. There is a lot of high end action, romance, songs and dance. I saw a bit of the film recently and I am over the moon. It looks fantastic and I can’t wait till it’s out next year.
As a Pakistani national, does working with Bollywood come with its own share of challenges?
Working in Bollywood made sense for me. It is the same as British actors going to work in Hollywood because it is much a bigger industry. Obviously, because of the relationship between Pakistan and India there is more ups and downs. One thing happens in that relationship and the whole film process can come to a halt.
Is that the reason why the music career is important for you, in that it will always keep you working?
Absolutely. Music is something that has no boundaries. Songs can travel and connect with anyone in any part of the world.
Ali Zafar and Ayushmann Khurrana perform at Dubai Tennis Stadium on October 27. Tickets begin from Dh49 at dubai.platinumlist.net