His first film, Tere Bin Laden (2010), was a surprise hit. The second one, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan (MBKD), is an expected hit. And Ali Zafar is on a high. “It’s a flying start for me and I’m really grateful that I’ve been so warmly accepted. Now I just have to ensure that the success doesn’t go to my head,” says the Pakistani pop star turned actor.
Ali's Bollywood debut, which he was partly distributing, was unable to release in Pakistan following a last minute objection. But MBKD has opened well and is on its way to becoming a mega blockbuster there. “Distributors tell me that business is great and friends complain that they’re not getting tickets. I couldn’t be happier,” he jokes.
However, despite its commercial success, the film got the thumbs down from critics. Ali, though, came in for praise for the sincerity he brought to his role, making him the surprise scene-stealer. Admitting that it’s hard to make both critics and the aam janta (common man) smile, he says that he’s relieved that he didn’t go off track with his act. “Now the aim is to grow from an okay actor to a better one with every film I do. Yes, the offers from Bollywood have doubled now, but that’s to be expected. The real challenge is to not get carried away by stardom and choose wisely.”
Ali’s next film is London Paris New York (LPNY) that Fox Studios is making in association with Goldie Behl’s Rose Movies. The directorial debut of Anu Menon, the film has already completed its London schedule that kept Ali away from MBKD’s music launch. “We had an awesome time and I’m looking forward to travelling to New York and Paris now to shoot the movie,” he smiles.
While his latest film paired him with Bollywood’s numero uno heroine, Katrina Kaif, his third outing has him opposite a relative newcomer, Aditi Rao. Is that a deliberate move to ensure that the spotlight remains firmly on him this time? “No, it’s not. LPNY is a coming of age story of two young people who are absolute contrasts and meet for a night at each city. It needed a fresh, new face rather than a top star and Aditi suits the role to a T,” he asserts.
In an earlier interview, he had said that if MBKD gets the kind of box-office numbers he had predicted, Katrina would keep her promise of starring in his video. “Well, I’ve won the bet as far as the first weekend figures go, and going by the way the film is doing, it should touch the next benchmark too. Katrina is shooting in Dublin, I’ll write to her. It’s entirely her decision but if she agrees, I’ll write a new song for her,” says Ali who is writing, composing and giving the playback for his third film.
Another popular Pakistani pop star, Atif Aslam made his debut in Bol recently. Ali, who is Atif’s friend, is happy for him friend that the film has been critically acclaimed everywhere and is a huge hit back home. “I went for the premiere of the film in Pakistan and have been promoting it alongside my own film here and on Twitter. I always look at the big picture and Bol is a film that needs to be seen,” he points out.
Any good offers from Pakistan? “None as yet,” he says. Does this mean that he will be shifting base to India? “I’ve been spending more time here than anywhere else of late anyway,” he points out. “I will go wherever my films take me…Patiala, Paris or London.”