In EXCLUSIVE interaction with our editor Tushar Joshi , Ali Zafar reveals it all. Read on to know what he has to say…
Ali Zafar’s last release was 2014’s Kill Dil. The film tanked at the box-office. Since then, Ali has been on a self-proclaimed hiatus. Now, he’s back in the news for signing Gauri Shinde’s Dear Zindagi, where he’s playing one of Alia Bhatt’s love interests. But a lot has changed in the last two years. Another Pakistani actor, Fawad Khan has cracked the code and become a favourite. For someone who enjoyed similar attention at the beginning of his career, Ali gets the comparison and talks to me about why he’s happy with Fawad’s success. Excerpts from our chat…
Why did you disappear from the scene?
I spent close to five years here shooting films and doing lot of work. To be honest, I was far away from family and saw my son growing up on Skype. He’s around five years old now and my daughter is a little over a year old. I was missing out on the important moments and I felt that I needed to give more time back home. I was exhausted with all the back-and-forth travelling. I took a break, went home, built a big house with a pool and fulfilled my dream to have a big music studio in the basement.
You record at home?
Yes, I do my recordings there. Then, I travelled the world with the family. I also had shows and tours. I put together my own production house and we have started some projects. So there was a lot that I missed back home. After the Peshawar attacks, we had pledged to make as many schools as the number of children that had died, so we have made about 40.
That’s impressive. What’s been B-Town’s biggest lesson to you?
I’ve learnt that the industry works and functions at a certain pace. And I have my own pace to do things.
I don’t like to go on a signing spree and grab projects. I choose one project a year, so I can do that and everything else I want to do — travel the world, sing, make music, and sit in my studio.I am most peaceful and happy when I am sitting in my studio jamming with my friends, hanging out with my school buddies.I didn’t want to miss out on that part of life and lose that connection. I am no Aamir Khan. If I do one project and it doesn’t work I miss out on a year. So now, I have decided that I would indulge deeper into projects and not just do one project a year.
What has the failure of your films taught you?
I have been very conscious of the scripts and the content, but I think I will be even more cautious now. I didn’t sign many films before, because after a certain point, you get typecast and get the same roles. I had played the chocolate-boy and I wanted to try different things. I did Kill Dil because of that. It didn’t work out at that level. But the roles that I had been looking forward to would be roles which are not just clean-cut, but something edgy, cool, something crazy, different and something challenging… that kind of stuff.
Fawad was brave to play a gay man in Kapoor & Sons. Would you be open that?
If I play gay, it would only depend on what kind of role it is and the offer. I haven’t thought of it at all, because I haven’t been made any such offer.
Do comparisons with Fawad bother you?
It pleases me for a bigger reason: Since the time I came in, I just didn’t think of myself. I thought that I was just one person. There will have to be many like me who take this exchange of artistes between our two countries forward. And I feel very happy and glad that someone like Fawad is so well-received here. I hope more artistes come and receive that much love and vice-versa.
If you had to go back in time and tell the younger you one thing, what would it be?
Not a thing. You know your success is what defines you — how you were when something successful happened and how you were when something didn’t work out. These ups and downs are a part of life and how a man carries himself through those times is what defines him. I was, recently moved after Mohammed Ali’s death. For 10 days, I couldn’t do anything, but just watch his fights and his interviews. I learnt so much from him. As a boxer, he won fights and lost some, but it is about believing in yourself.
The lesson you came away with it, was…
I believe that I am destined for greatness, which is larger than whatever I have achieved so far. When I started singing, I was a nobody. But I envisioned that a day would come when I would be on stage and thousands of people would be singing my song. Similarly, I visualise and I see that day when this is just a start.
I am still young, it’s a long journey. I have 20 years to play with.
Who is your therapist? Someone you can talk to about everything.
I don’t carry my baggage too much with me. I don’t like to talk about it. I think my troubles are for myself to deal with. But if I were to choose then some of my very close friends and my lovely wife.
You have a strong political opinion on what’s happening in Paksitan right now…
Well, I am an optimist and I will always be one. I am also a romantic, but at the same time. I am also a realist. You know I made a song called Udenge after the Peshawar incident. It spoke about a positive tomorrow, where we will rise. Pakistan is headed to a good space and good things are happening. Pakistan’s film industry business has picked up and has some amazing talent. Also, the youth in Pakistan is very proactive, which is a very good thing.
What are your sentiments on Qandeel Baloch’s honour killing?
I did tweet about it. I said if women started killing men to protect their honour a lot of us would be dead. It’s very sad that this happened.
Ali Abbas Zafar did his first film Mere Brother Ki Dulhan with you, did you watch his Sultan?
Ali is very dear to me. We met up recently. I watched Sultan, I really liked it and I have a very close association with Ali. He is a great guy and there is something that we are discussing, which I obviously can’t reveal, as of now.
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