Ali Zafar made an impressive debut in Bollywood last year with Tere Bin Laden. After the success of his first film, the 31-year-old singer-turned-actor signed a movie with Katrina Kaif called Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, produced by India’s elite production house; Yash Raj Films. Ali Zafar was in London to film his third project which has been titled London, Paris New York and is produced by Fox Star India. Shooting for the project began in early August and the actor took out some time from his busy schedule to speak to me in London’s Covent Garden about his music, movies and his co-stars.
Welcome to London. What brings you here to this city?
I am shooting my next film here. It’s called London, Paris, New York.
Who is starring in the film besides yourself?
Aditi Rao is the heroine of the film. She was in Yeh Saali Zindagi and will be seen in Rockstar as well.
Did you actually plan to break it into the Indian market with debuting as an actor in the industry?
Yeah, kind of. I had it in my mind that I wanted to explore Bollywood, acting and films. I did music for five-six year and sometimes then, you want to experience something different. I wanted to experience cinema and I have acted before too.
You sang a few songs for Tere Bin Laden and one for your upcoming film Mere Brother Ki Dulhan. Is this something that you will do with every film, that you will be a part of?
Actually, for London, Paris, New York I am also composing the music, writing the songs and singing them.
You will see that in my future projects as well.
Well-known people from the industry liked your performance in your debut film. How did that feel as a newcomer?
It felt really good. If you get that kind of a reception right at the start of your career, you can’t ask for anything more. Also, Tere Bin Laden was not only a commercial success. It was also well respected and people loved the fact that this kind of a cinema was being practised. It would have been really typical, If I had come up with a rom-com or a musical.
That’s what you are doing now, as your second film.
Yeah, it was the second step. But for the first film to be like Tere Bin Laden was fantastic. All credit goes to Abhishek Sharma for having considered me for that role.
How did your next film Mere Brother Ki Dulhan come to you?
I was offered the film right after Tere Bin Laden. Ali Abbas Zafar, the director called me up and he thought that I would suit a role in MBDK after watching my debut film.
Do you like the title? Imran Khan does not like it and Katrina Kaif thinks its perfect.
It’s alright. I am not anybody to judge it. For me, the director and the producer are the best judge.
It’s their project. We as actors are tools to portray a story. It’s their creative decision. The film is a mass oriented film. It’s not a niche film.
You are playing the “brother” in the film. What should we expect from you in this film ?
There is a little bit of a surprise element in the film. I know that people are looking at it as a film about two guys who like one girl and fight over her. It’s not that predictable. It has a surprise element that is revealed in the latter half of the film. This guy wants to get married but does not know who the right girl is. He sends out his brother to look for her. He is a little confused on what he wants. It’s like a rom-com as a series of comical events happen.
Katrina told me that you are very talented. What do you have to say about her?
It’s sweet of her to say that. She was a very fun person and very convenient to work around.
She also told me that you would just break into a song at lunch break.
I don’t like to waste my time. I like to keep inventing and creating stuff. I carry my guitar on my sets and everywhere. I am musician at heart. So, I am like a musician on set acting. The time that I am by myself, I keep writing songs. Katrina is wonderful person to work with. Also, otherwise she is a wonderful person besides being an actress.
There has been a lot of speculation about your so called “cold-war” with Imran Khan, the other lead of Mere Brother Ki Dulhan. Was it weird for you to read all these stories about yourself?
I have been reading stories about myself for quite a long time. But since I have come into Bollywood, I have been reading more of them. I am kind of getting acclimatized to the media, press and how things go about. I am getting used to it but I don’t let it affect me at all.
Do you wonder who “leaks” these rumours?
I do wonder. But what can I do? After it was written, Imran was there at my birthday party too.
But do you not believe that there is no smoke without fire?
I don’t know. I like to think positively. Even if there is something, I would like to think that the sky is blue and the sun is shining.
How was it working with Imran Khan for Mere Brother Ki Dulhan ?
It was great. He is very comfortable to work with. He is just like a very regular, nice and sweet gentleman to work with. We would sometimes burst into laughter while we were shooting some funny scenes. While the lighting was being sorted out, we had to look at each other in the eyeS. I would say something and he would start laughing. Sometimes, our scenes had to be stopped because we went into fits of laughter.
Do you think it’s your luck or talent that your second film is with Yash Raj Films ?
Both. I have worked very hard in life. Some people are getting to know about me now. But I have worked really hard for the last ten years as an artist, not just as singer or actor. I started working very early in life. I stepped out of my house at the age of eighteen, started making portraits at a hotel lobby. I got 500 Rupees per portrait. I made money through that and bought my keyboard from my first savings.
From there things started going upwards. Fame is nothing new to me and it took me a while to actually learn how to enjoy it. I enjoy the process more than the result. You know, for me this is important when the film is being shot, that day, that very moment rather than what’s going to happen when it will release. Is it going to be success or not, who knows?
What is your favourite song from MBKD?
Dhunki is nice. The title song is nice too.
Do you not like your own song Madhubhala or are you trying to be modest?
(smiles)I like my own song too. Yeah, I thought I attempt to be modest. I like it because it has been composed and written nicely. In fact, there is a story to this. There was another song that was written and then one day, we decided that this song where everybody gets drunk and gets mad should be madder. The previous song was nice too and it has a nice melody by Sohail. But Madhubala, I thought if you want to go crazy then go all the way out like Khaike Paan Bana Raswala or Jai Jai Shiv Shankar and all those songs. When Irshaad Kamil wrote the lyrics, it was something I instantly liked it and I tried to sing it in a way that the listeners feel the joy.
There is a lot of news about a Premiere in London besides one in the UAE. Is that true ?
Yes, that’s right. I think Abu Dhabi is the 7th September and London is the 8th.
A meesage for your fans:
Just a very warm Thank you to all these people who accepted me. I am thankful for their appreciation and I do it all for them. From the bottom of my heart, Thank You.
Ali Zafar’s next Mere Brother Ki Dulhan will be released on the 9th September worldwide.