Atif Aslam, one of Pakistan’s popular pop singers, arrived in Mumbai on Friday, enroute from Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi to conduct auditions for a reality TV show, Sur Kshetra, that goes on air next month. Atif will scout for six amateur Pakistani singers and mentor them to compete against Indian singers in a squad headed by composer-singer-actor Himesh Reshammiya.
Given the current state of political unrest in the country, would he find takers for an India show on Sahara One show? "Of course, I will," says a confident Atif. "I live in Pakistan and the situation is not as exaggerated as you see on news clips. Not all of Pakistan is disturbed. Certain pockets are, but that’s only a temporary phase and common to every country."
The singer-composer points out that young boys freely bike around and play cricket on the streets. There are regular stage shows, plays and concerts and people go to cinema halls to watch movies. "Most parts of the country are normal and I don’t see the political unrest being a deterrent to my show. Pakistanis love music, I’m sure I’ll find my talent," asserts Atif, who has recorded two songs for the forthcoming movie Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya toplining soon-to-wed Riteish Deshmukh and Genelia D’Souza.
The three-month-long musical show, the first on the channel in 2012, will be extensively shot in Dubai and have its finale in a European city. It is likely to be followed by at least one more show. Is it being shot abroad because of the visa problems dogging Pakistani actors and singers?
"Why should anyone have a problem about me working in India? I haven’t done anything wrong. I’m an artiste and not a troublemaker. The show has been designed in a way that we need to shoot in Dubai, it’s the channel decision," he maintains. "I just want my Pakistani kids to be part of a beautiful cultural exchange with their Indian brothers and sisters. I don’t think that’s asking for too much."
‘Will jam with Guns N’ Roses’
Apart from the shows, Atif will be seen on Coke Studio soon, jamming with Guns N’ Roses, one of his favourite bands. “I’m looking forward to the session, it’s been a dream of sorts,” he says. “I will also be performing with a couple of popular Rajasthani folk artistes. On Coke Studio, we get a chance to play different genres of music with different artistes. I love the concept of the show and just couldn’t say no.”