Ali Azmat, now 41-years-old, remains one of the most outspoken figures in Pakistan’s pop culture, with his latest outburst stinging ex-bandmate Salman Ahmad.
Adding fuel to the controversy between him and his former Junoon members, the rocker, who spoke to The Express Tribune following a concert at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (Lums), says “I have never had any resentment towards Junoon but its Salman Ahmad that I have a problem with.”
“I resent Salman Ahmad; I can’t stand the man and can’t take his dramas. It’s a choice of personal liking,” he adds. “Salman has tried to contact me but I don’t see the point, I won’t be able to tolerate a lot of things. When you’re younger, you overlook a lot of things and you don’t know much, but I’m 41 now and at this stage in time I cannot play music like that.”
Meanwhile, regarding the recent 20th anniversary album — initiated by Ahmad and Brian O’ Connell — Azmat makes no effort to hide his amusement behind the idea; “Having a 20th anniversary album for Junoon is like having a 20th wedding anniversary for parents who are divorced”.
Further elaborating on his conflict with Ahmad and the changing nature of Junoon before the final break-up of the band, Azmat says, “Junoon had become so commercial that I didn’t fit into that set-up. I’ve always avoided the spotlight. I heard Salman say that ‘Ali Azmat could have done much better had he followed in the footsteps of Ali Zafar, Atif Aslam or Rahat Fateh Ali Khan’. But that’s not what I wanted to do. If I wanted fame, I would have stayed with Junoon.”
Although Azmat has been in the spotlight due to growing conflict between him and Ahmad, the ex-Junooni has more to offer than just gossip, he has been making waves through his recently released song “Yaqeen” for children’s programme “Sim Sim Hamara” and a single, “Chalta Main Jaon”, for the clothing brand CrossRoads. Additionally, he has also ventured into the big screen through his introduction as the lead character in Bilal Lashari’s film Waar.
Azmat, who has released two solo albums, Social Circus and Klashinfolk, claims he will now focus on releasing singles instead of producing entire albums. “People these days are more interested in what’s happening in the country, the news etc. Hence, as a musician, it’s better to do singles and make sure you use the right marketing techniques,” says Azmat.
When it comes to acting, Azmat has previously dabbled with dramas but stayed away from films as nothing interesting and meaningful came up. However, in the recent film, Waar, the singer will play the role of a patriotic politician, a role that requires Azmat to be ‘serious’ and possess a certain level of skill.
Apart from music and acting, Azmat says he is interested in hosting his own television show. “I am more interested in doing an independent video blog where we can post whatever we want to — even the stuff that other channels would not allow us to say,” adds Azmat, who is in the process of gathering a group of journalists to make it work.
Say no to politics
However, the one thing that Azmat will not be doing is joining politics despite interest from a couple of parties. Strictly against the system that politics upholds, the rock icon says, “I am not a political person and neither am I going to be standing in elections as I really don’t see myself in this system. Being in an office is kind of against the grain for me; a politician is accountable for everything, he has to act a certain way and I’m more independent-minded so I’m not suited for this role.”
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2012.