His fingers are restless as they keep dancing on the guitar lying nearby. Perhaps a musician never takes a break… even for an interview. Ali Zafar is one of those very few actors in Bollywood who can sing as well as act. Thrilled about his upcoming film Chashme Baddoor — a remake of the 1981 romantic comedy — Ali complains about not having time to paint anymore. In a tête-à-tête, the Lahore-based actor-singer talks about his passion for art, Pakistani identity, philosophy and peace.
What do you enjoy more — being a singer or an actor?
Music comes first. That goes without saying (smiles).
Has singing taken a backseat thanks to movies?
No, not at all. I’ve sung for all the films I have been part of so far. I’m also scoring the music for Aman Ki Asha and I’ll be there for the next season of Coke Studio as well.
Don’t you fear being stereotyped as an actor who does chocolate boy roles?
What’s there to fear yaar? How many things can a man fear anyway? Besides, if your audiences want to see you in a certain image, there’s no harm in sticking to it.
So you don’t want to break the mould?
Of course I want to and I’m doing an action film titled Kill Dil. It’s something I haven’t done before so I’m pretty sure it’s a good move.
What’s the secret behind your ability to multitask?
I guess I’m a good multitasker. I divide my time equally and stay dedicated to each discipline. After all, I love doing what I’m doing and I won’t have it any other way. For example, when I’m shooting, I can very well be writing songs or composing music simultaneously. In fact, on the very first day of the shoot for Chashme Baddoor at Yash Raj Studios, I was also dubbing the music for London Paris New York. I used to run to and fro between the sets and the recording room.
And how much did Farooq Sheikh inspire you for your role in Chashme Baddoor?
I hadn’t seen the original film before signing up for the project. After watching it, I was glad to know that I’m reprising his part. I personally want to meet him at least once for his blessings.
Does the Indo-Pak relationship affect you directly?
Not only me, all the artists and sportspersons — especially hockey players — from both countries are affected. I genuinely feel that politics should be placed in a separate bracket. There should be some kind of an unwritten rule stating art and politics shouldn’t mingle. In hindsight, I see myself as that guy who is trying to break perceptions built around his country.
Your experience in India so far…
Very good. If it weren’t for the people here I wouldn’t have achieved what I have in a relatively short period of time. Having said that, I don’t wish to do everything. Too much of showbiz and glitz eventually makes you feel lost. At the end of the day, I don’t want to lose my innocence.
So the idea is to lead a normal life?
Exactly. When you’re growing, the rise is all hunky-dory but the fall from success could possibly kill you. That’s why I want to lead a normal life with my family while at the same time, create good music and do appreciable work.
Since you have to shuttle a lot, how do you manage time with your family?
This is the worst part about my job but I try to spend as much time as possible with my wife (Ayesha) and son (Azaan). Sometimes they travel too. Like my next project will take me to London so they’re tagging along with me for a month.
Pakistani cinema is going through an interesting phase too. How come you haven’t worked in a film there yet?
I’m not against it or anything. Just that I haven’t been offered anything substantial yet. The same is true about Bollywood. So far, I’ve only done movies I could relate to. I haven’t agreed to every single script that came my way.