“Keep politics out of art and culture", says Pakistani pop singer Ali Zafar, who arrived in Mumbai this month. He would like nothing better than to move to Mumbai and become a singing actor like Kishore Kumar. But would the current milieu of hostility allow him to make that move?
“Things have to get better between the two countries", Ali says optimistically. “The sooner the better. The present hostility is unbearable. We from the entertainment industry in Pakistan are hard hit by the suspicion between the two countries."
Ali Zafar is honest enough to admit there"s more scope for him to function in India than in Pakistan. “I"ll be honest. There are more avenues and prospects here. So if the God above and the politicians down on earth permit, I"d love to move to Mumbai. An artist knows no bounds and boundaries. My first home is Lahore. But I"d like to make Mumbai my second home."
Ali has a wife and a 3-month baby boy back home. “When I left home I kept looking back at my home and loved ones. I wish they could come with me." Ali expects his wife to join him in Mumbai later during his current trip to the city, his first after 26/11. In the last 6–7 years he has been to Mumbai at least 20 times.
However, he was unable to return recently because of the current political scenario. “Things have changed. My last visit was before 26/11 and I remember how pleasant the mood was in Mumbai. I was free to move around the streets of Mumbai. I cannot deny there"s tension between the two countries. Earlier travelling between the two countries was easier (aana jaana laga rehta tha). Initially, we artists from Pakistan used to get multiple visas quite easily. Now it"s different. However, I feel singers and other artists should be exempt from politics."
Ali thinks it"s easy for him to incorporate singing into his acting because he uses a lot of acting expression on stage. “I wanted to do something different from what my colleagues from Pakistan do in India. I always thought my first acting experience would be something different and special. I"ve no leading lady in my first film Tere Bin Laden. I was determined that when I act for the first time I"d sing for myself and not sing for others on screen. When I met the director Abhishek Varma for Tere Bin Laden in Mumbai, I knew this was the project that I wanted to start my big-screen acting career with. I laughed so much when I heard the script. I was sure audiences would love it too."
Being married doesn"t diminish Ali"s popularity. “On the contrary female fans trust married men more than unmarried male. Married men are considered stable." About being inspired by Kishore Kumar, Ali Zafar shoots off, “He"s my definite inspiration just as Kishore Kumar Saab was inspired by K.L. Saigal." Ali is on the verge of signing new films in Mumbai and moving in to Mumbai. “I love the city. I want it to love me back as much as I do."