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'I don't want to be typecast as a rom-com hero'

March 05, 2014 18:08 IST

'I don't want to be typecast as a rom-com hero'

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Sonil Dedhia in Mumbai

'I sometimes wonder whether I am actually working in Hindi films!' 

'Considering that I didn’t know anyone over here and, more importantly, being from Pakistan, there was nothing going in my favour. I could only bank on my sincerity, talent and hard work. I guess I have been pretty successful in doing that.'

Ali Zafar gets candid about his journey from Pakistan to Bollywood.

Actor-singer Ali Zafar is visibly tired. He has an acute pain in the back and cannot sit for long.

Yet, he doesn't take a break from work.

He's busy promoting his latest film Total Siyappa, which releases Friday, March 7.

The 32-year-old actor from Pakistan plays a Pakistani in the film. It has been directed E Niwas, and co-stars Yami Gautam, Kirron and Anupam Kher. 

In this conversation with Sonil Dedhia, Ali tells us why he wants to change his chocolate-boy image, and how audiences in India and Pakistan have accepted him as an artist.

Total Siyappa is a love story between an Indian girl and a Pakistani boy. Were you the obvious choice for this role?

Yes, I guess so. The producers might be able to answer that better.

The film is a remake of a Spanish film called Seres Queridos (Only Human). The makers of the film gave me a brief narration. They said if I found the subject interesting we could develop it further.

I loved the concept so they decided to develop the script.

Please click Next to see more.


Image: Ali Zafar
Photographs: Ali Zafar/Facebook

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'I am not hungry for stardom'

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Your next film Kill Dil is an action thriller. Was that because you wanted to move away from the romantic comedy space?

Kill Dil is an interesting film that came my way at the right time.

It’s an action drama. I wanted to do something different that was out of my comfort zone and would challenge me as an actor.

There’s more to me than just comedy or romance. I don’t want to be typecast as a rom-com hero.

So you think you were being typecast?

There is nothing wrong in being typecast till the time the movies are working and people like my work.

All my releases so far have been rom-coms. But all of them have been different, and so have my characters.

Total Siyapaa is also a different film.

You have done just five films in four years. Are you choosy about the films you select?

I do take my time to choose my films because I am not hungry for stardom.

I don’t want to keep signing films and exhausting myself as an actor. I like to enjoy life, take time out for my family, and travel with them.

I am here to be creatively and not materialistically satisfied. 


Image: Anupam and Kirron Kher, Ali Zafar and Yami Gautam in Total Siyappa


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'I was used to girls screaming at concerts, living a good life, and travelling the world'

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Is the material satisfaction not important because you are a star in Pakistan?

Yes. The transformation from just an ordinary boy to becoming famous overnight was something I went through back home in Pakistan in 2003 after my first single was released.

I was used to girls screaming at concerts, living a good life, and travelling the world.

I try and do a lot of different and new stuff. Ultimately, I do something that will make me happy.

What makes Ali Zafar happy?

Being in a music studio and creating something new makes me happy.

Spending time with my family also makes me happy. While I am shooting a film, the process makes me happy.


Image: Ali Zafar with his fans
Photographs: Ali Zafar/Instagram
Tags: Pakistan

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'I have a clause that I won't be kissing on screen'

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There are many actors who are considered as outsiders, and the industry hasn’t been good to them. How has it been for you?

It’s been an interesting journey.

I sometimes wonder whether I am actually working in Hindi films! 

Considering that I didn’t know anyone over here and, more importantly, being from Pakistan, there was nothing going in my favour. I could only bank on my sincerity, talent and hard work. I guess I have been pretty successful in doing that.

What has been the reaction of your fans in both Pakistan and India?

When my first film became a hit, people in Pakistan realised that it is possible to make it big in India.

Initially there are always reservations and misconceptions. There is a misconception that every woman wears a hijab and every man keeps a beard in Pakistan.

When it comes to India, I’ve been welcomed with an open heart and a lot of appreciation. More than me, it’s the people who are responsible for making me who I am today.

Do you think there’s a constant pressure on you because you are representing your country?

I have a clause that I won’t be kissing on screen. In London Paris New York kissing was essential, so they got a body double to do it. I obviously do think about what people are going to feel and think back home. But at the end of the day, I can’t please everyone.

So I make it a point to satisfy my own conscience. I do what I think is right and hope people like my work.


Image: Ali Zafar
Photographs: Ali Zafar/Facebook

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'I am a private person and stay away from the limelight'

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How does your wife react to your films?

She is very understanding. She sometimes joins me here when I am shooting.She likes my films. She really loved me in London Paris New York.

My family has always been supportive about my acting career in Hindi cinema.

You have become a part of Bollywood but we don’t see you attending social events.

I am a private person and stay away from the limelight. I like being alone and having my own space.

I don’t think it is important for me to promote myself constantly. I talk to the media when I have to promote my film.

I connect with my fans through concerts. At the end of the day, I feel the biggest star is not really the happiest person.


Image: Ali Zafar
Photographs: Ali Zafar/Instagram

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'Govinda is one of the most underrated actors in the industry'

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How was the experience of working with Govinda in Kill Dil?

He is one of the most underrated actors in the industry. He does comedy with so much ease.

It was a total joy to see him at work and also work with him.

What next?

I am writing a script. I cannot reveal much about it. I am not going to direct it.

I hope it will represent Pakistan at an international platform and people get to see that side of Pakistan that they don’t usually see.


Image: Ali Zafar
Photographs: Ali Zafar/Facebook

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