Ali Zafar has been making headlines not just as a talented singer, but also as an accomplished actor, painter, model and humanitarian. His many accomplishments also include his active socio-political engagements: Ali has never refrained from speaking his mind and is one of the very few who take time out to offer opinions on issues that pertain to Pakistan.
Ali may not be the only active Pakistani celebrity on Twitter, but he is definitely the most popular one with over 208,000 followers in January 2013 alone. He continues to channel his celebrity status for the good: not only does he represent Pakistan as a cultural ambassador promoting peace, he also does not hesitate to motivate his international fan base as is evident from his appearance and speeches at cross-border forums Aaj Tak Agenda and the India Today Mind Rocks Summit.
His newest film project, the much-awaited Chashme Baddoor which released on April 5, is already being touted as the summer blockbuster of 2013. Images on Sunday caught up with the singer for an exclusive pre-release interview.
Q. After three successive hits, do you think the pressure has increased on you to deliver a hit the fourth time round?
Ali Zafar: I think I’m harder on myself than any critic could ever be, so yes, there is pressure on myself to work hard and perform differently. I’m excited about Chashme Baddoor since it’s been done before by legendary actor Farooq Shaikh. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
Q. Tell us about your character in CB?
AZ: I’ve always been a fan of the original film. Initially when the film was pitched to me I was a little hesitant but then I read the script and was impressed. I was hooked from the beginning. I couldn’t put it down and here I am.
Q. How is it different from the original?
AZ: It’s a little over-the-top, adapted to modern times and coloured by director David Dhawan’s sensibilities. It’s a family film and everyone will enjoy it.
Q. Your experience as a composer in Bollywood?
AZ: It was a great experience. I’ve always welcomed newer challenges and I am always exploring boundaries.
Q. Does it also make the character closer to your heart?
AZ: Definitely! As an actor it lends authenticity to the character that I am playing. It is always good to combine acting and singing.
Q. How was your experience with David Dhawan? AZ: This is the first film where I have worked with David. I met him on the set during a scene. There is an innocent kid hidden within him, he seems so young. He is a wonderful person to work with and very supportive.
Q. How do you decide between offers?
AZ: Script is always my priority; I always look into a good one thoroughly. After that it’s the team and the people that I have to work with.
Q. How has your career affected your personal life?
AZ: I’m blessed with a very supportive family. My wife understands and I make sure that I am always there.
Q. Your character, Siddharth, is innocent, aristocratic and cultured. How do you relate to him?
AZ: As an actor there is a bit of me in every character that I portray. I would certainly like to think that I’m cultured too!
Q. CB deals with the issue of fake kidnapping. Do you see yourself plotting the same someday?
AZ: God, no! As a prank it could be fun, but only with close friends. Come to think of it, I do have some old scores to settle (laughs).
Q. Another issue touches upon impressing the girl next door. Have you ever tried to charm a girl in school/college?
AZ: (Laughs). Haven’t we all?! The answer is yes! (grins).
Q. What is the glue that keeps you and your wife Ayesha bonded?
AZ: Compassion, loyalty, individuality and love.
Q. With Azaan three years old now, how is fatherhood?
AZ: Everyday is a treat.
David Dhawan on Ali Zafar: “Working with them all was a great experience. I have to admit that I was worried in the beginning because I was not working with big stars like Sanjay Dutt, Salman Khan or Govinda but their acting and how they all worked together in perfect harmony impressed me. I enjoyed making the film with them very much, it is easy to mould fresh and new talent, and they follow directions quite well.
“They are trained actors, especially Ali, who has previously acted in several successful films. There was a line: Arz kiya hai ke mili hai woh Heer ki tarha, taste mein thi woh kheer ki tarha aur dil ke paar hui woh teer ki tarha, and then Ali says: Such such bol kahin chillarh day ke bhaga to nahin diya fakeer ki tarha with perfect timing thus executing the act with perfection. He really did a superb job.”
Sai Paranjpye: “Both Shaikh and Zafar are aristocratic and cultured. There is certain innocence about them. When my co-writer Renuka and I began to re-write Chashme Baddoor for contemporary times, we immediately thought of Ali in Farooq’s role and knew that we absolutely had to cast him. He was the perfect person to act out Siddharth Parashar.”