One of the leading musicians in Pakistan, Ali Zafar has garnered a massive fan following since kicking off his celebrity journey in 2003. While the artist has faced his fair share of career lows – especially when the 2018 harassment allegations surfaced against him – he has somehow managed to keep his head up high and focus on his work, be it his acting stints, production projects or new songs. The recent Pride of Performance recipient was trolled heavily after being presented with the civil honour this year and while there may be a section of people calling out to ‘cancel’ him, Zafar’s devotees have remained loyal to him all along and by his side. Remaining unfettered by all those who bring him down, the singer-actor recently spoke to Diva magazine about the controversies he has been embroiled in, his Bollywood debut, career hits and personal life. Here is what he had to say!
Speaking about the good and bad that has come his way, Zafar said, “It’s been quite a life. I see life in totality as a dichotomy. Good and bad things keep happening our lives. The extent of those are sometimes defined and redefined and are different for each person. I would say, I got to learn a lot more, which includes being much stronger than before – emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.” Even though life has thrown multiple curveballs at him in the recent past, the Channo singer still counts the innumerable blessings. “For whatever I was blessed with despite all going on, can be a case study on its own. To be bestowed with the Pride of Performance, to the film doing great, and all my songs being released becoming hits, it proved positive things were happening more than anything else,” he added.
He then weighed in on the emotional trauma he encountered, throwing shade at the time he was accused by his colleague and singer Meesha Shafi for harassment. “I always had faith in God and myself. Because, from day one, I knew what was right and why this was happening. I believed in the fact that if you’re standing with the truth, then eventually it wins. You just need to fight. That strength came from two main things, one was the way you deal with the external world and one is how well you’re connected to the world that is operating on another level altogether. If you’re in tune with both, things start manifesting the way that is in your favour.” Zafar credited his spiritual strength for never losing hope. “I would say that my spiritual strength is what made me capable of being strong through it all,” he stated.
A sociable person and known for having a solid group of close buddies, Zafar found himself being betrayed by some of his nearest and dearest too when the was named in the #MeToo controversy. “You don’t get hurt when strangers saying something about you, it’s when your own close friends, who you have done tons for, are the ones suddenly celebrating your possible demise. You suddenly realise, this is what has been in our hearts while they were partying with you. One realises why in most religions, the emotion of envy is given so much importance,” he stated. Addressing the “cancel culture” trend following the popularity of social media platforms, Zafar said, “I think we’re all going through a phase where technology is taking over so rapidly, that people are not emotionally equipped enough to adapt to it. Social media has given a tool in everyone’s hands where they are free to say whatever they want to.” Being a strong believer of karma, Zafar feels “whatever you put out there is bound to come back to you”. He mentioned, “Whenever you cancel somebody, you’re ought to get it back on you. In my case, you can see, what has happened to all those who had said things against me. They’ve been cancelled, for their own faults.”
Recalling the great times he had while working on Bollywood projects, Zafar shared he never felt excluded in any way. “Sometimes, it may have been due to certain pressures that things went a bit awry, but by and large, all creative people on both sides wanted to work with each other. I personally felt quite welcomed in Bollywood. The only incident I remember is during the Dear Zindagi times, when the pressure had mounted so high that there were talks that all of my scenes were reportedly re-shot with another actor, and my song was re-recorded with a version done by Arijit Singh. At that time even, Shah Rukh Khan and Gauri Shinde took a stand for me,” he revealed. Not many know that Zafar indeed began his acting career in India. When asked how he managed to do that, he said, “When I debuted in Bollywood in 2008 and even when I launched my music in India about more than a decade ago, there was no industry here. Where would have I starred? That was the reason why I went to Bollywood, where I was offered Tere Bin Laden. Since then, our industry has grown. But, even when I was working there more than learning my scenes, I wanted to understand how the industry and the film was being made. I wanted to apply that here, and since 2013, I started working on making a Pakistani debut film and it culminated into Teefa in Trouble, which became a massive blockbuster.”
From music albums and high-profile concerts to Pakistani and Bollywood films, Zafar seems to have conquered it all. But what’s next for him? “What I might have not done yet is perhaps, an international music album or Hollywood. That too, I have targeted for the next few years. I already did start figuring out some of those things but then COVID-19 halted many projects. Now, slowly things are reopening, and this is something I am sure I’ll do. But, I personally feel that I am not only made to entertain people through my art, I feel I am meant for something even greater. I just want to help more people now, and bring massive change in society.”