Ali Zafar — The untapped talent

Published: January 17, 2012

Singer-cum-actor Ali Zafar stars in a Bollywood romantic comedy London, Paris, New York which will be released on March 2. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY

Singer-cum-actor Ali Zafar stars in a Bollywood romantic comedy London, Paris, New York which will be released on March 2. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY Singer-cum-actor Ali Zafar stars in a Bollywood romantic comedy London, Paris, New York which will be released on March 2. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY Singer-cum-actor Ali Zafar stars in a Bollywood romantic comedy London, Paris, New York which will be released on March 2. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY Singer-cum-actor Ali Zafar stars in a Bollywood romantic comedy London, Paris, New York which will be released on March 2. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY Singer-cum-actor Ali Zafar stars in a Bollywood romantic comedy London, Paris, New York which will be released on March 2. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY Singer-cum-actor Ali Zafar stars in a Bollywood romantic comedy London, Paris, New York which will be released on March 2. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY
KARACHI: 

Whenever a Pakistani entertainer makes it to an international industry, we feel immensely proud. Whether it’s the news of Atif Aslam singing songs for Hollywood production Man Push Cart or reports of Shafqat Amanat Ali extending his classical vocals for a Bollywood film they all bring forth a lot of positive recognition for the nation. However, there is no celebrity who Pakistanis are more proud of than the prodigal singer and actor Ali Zafar.

After a successful singing career in Pakistan, he stepped into Bollywood with a lead role in Tere Bin Laden, a performance which was lauded by critics. Zafar followed it up with a role in Mere Brother Ki Dulhan. However, while the actor was sharing screen time with Katrina Kaif, he still required another Bollywood leading man Imran Khan to make the frame look picture-perfect.

Although there’s been plenty of attention and buzz about the star, it seems that Zafar is still searching for the right place in Bollywood. This is best demonstrated by the trailer of his latest venture London, Paris, New York (LPNY) which looks good on the screen but really isn’t the holy grail of all acting gigs. Directed by Anu Menon, produced by Shrishti Arya and Goldie Behl, the production stars Zafar with actor Aditi Rao Hydari.

LPNY’s story is centered on Lalitha and Nikhil. Lalitha is a middle class south Indian girl from Chembur (a Mumbai suburb) who is on her way to New York to study politics with a full scholarship and Nikhil is a rich Punjabi kid from Bandra (a posh Mumbai suburb) who is headed for London to study film-making. From the trailer, the film has the makings of an average romantic comedy, something similar to the Kareena Kapoor and Imran Khan starrer Ek Main Aur Ekk Tu.

Although Zafar doesn’t look out of place, the important question to ask is if these are the kinds of films and roles which should form the benchmark for Zafar’s success. Certainly not! Playing the standard chocolate hero might be a dream com true for typical Bollywood newcomers but this shouldn’t be the end-all for someone as gifted as him.

Even Zafar’s latest film, David Dhawan’s remake of the 1981 classic Chashme Buddoor, is once again a romantic film where he plays a comic role. It’s important for the talented actor to break free from the standard mould as the days of being a chocolate hero are over. The audience is maturing with every film and so should Zafar.

Considered one of the best looking men in Bollywood and extremely gifted in own right, Zafar has all it takes to rule Bollywood. But he continues to bank on his good looks and star quality instead of displaying versatility and depth in his roles.

If the star integrates his singing and acting talents, he can become a dual threat in Bollywood. The last person to perfectly pull this combination off was Kishore Kumar, whose voice bears a resemblance to Zafar.

The problem also lies with directors across the border who have failed to capitalise on his talent by typecasting him in certain kinds of roles only. If Zafar gets the right mentorship and direction from directors like Vishal Bhardwaj, we may see a drastic change in his positioning. Currently, there are rumours of him considering signing on to a Hollywood project. We hope that this new project will focus on another side of Zafar and captilise on the star’s versatility and adaptability.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2012. 

Reader Comments (7)

  • Asjad
    Jan 18, 2012 - 12:44AM

    Its a Bollywood curse, Salman Khan is there for Action, Srk for romance (he tries to get away but always comes back to it) Imran Hashmi is for we know what…so Ali Zafar needs another hit from a different genre like Tere bin ladin did for his comedy roles…to be able to get a more different role…I’d love to see Ali play Don:)

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  • Adeel Suhrwardy
    Jan 18, 2012 - 12:50AM

    A well written article indeed.

    I think Ali’s first priority is to be a house hold name abroad too and then I am pretty sure he will experiment with his roles as the industry shows more confidence in him and he continious to get the audience in the theatre.

    He did compose the music for this LPN, so thats a step in the direction also mentioned in the article.

    My humble two cents.

    -Adeel

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  • Meherbano
    Jan 18, 2012 - 2:50AM

    1) never judge a book by its cover. Till you watch full film u never know what it has in store regrading acting chops.
    2) This is just his third niche. Let him carve a niche first before breaking away.
    3) this is the first time an actor is writing and composing and arranging music. A lot of things to showcase talent although I do agree he has alot more in store.
    4). He is young and had just stared. Give him time.

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  • mooli
    Jan 18, 2012 - 3:51AM

    Interesting article!!
    I think he is doing what bollywood has to offer, he can not get a role like Tere Bin Laden everytime. Movies like 3 idiots or DDDLJ come out once a decade. May be our super star gets lucky in bagging one next year.Recommend

  • Abdul Wahaab
    Jan 18, 2012 - 1:25PM

    Indeed A Hero !

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  • harkol
    Jan 18, 2012 - 4:37PM

    Tere Bin Laden is a classic that I’d never forget. It was so different and genuinely funny. Sad it was banned by pakistan, when the story was set in Pakistan and lead actor was a Pakistani! Surely Pakistani’s deserved a comic relief.

    But, Bollywood is a strange place. It typecasts everyone, breaking the mold (like Vidya Balan has done) is very rare. Ali Zafar should attempt to do that, even at the risk of failing.

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  • Jan 18, 2012 - 7:27PM

    I am not sure why is this news? AZ is untapped talent in Pakistani film industry. Why does he need to go and prove to Indians. As Sir Zaid Hamid says, this is 4th generation war and AZ is being made a unwilling pawn in it.

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