Renowned singer Atif Aslam, who’s rumoured to be gearing up for his acting debut in Saife Hasan’s Sange Mar Mar sequel, has hinted at the possibility of him delivering dialogues on TV. In a vis-à-vis with the BBC's Haroon Rashid, Aslam opened up about his recent releases, old hits, desire to work with newer artistes, a habit of not listening to his own songs and not 'being too busy' for Shah Rukh Khan.
"People might be able to see me on TV delivering dialogues," he shared, without mentioning when. This led Rashid to inquire whether the rumours about his acting debut were true then, to which Aslam teased, "I’ve heard the rumours too but I don't know." He also assured that after Sajal Aly, he will be seen with Mahira Khan in a music video this year. And on his views about the star, Aslam shared “Mahira is lovely.”
While detailing how his latest song with Tarish Music – a new record label – came into being, Aslam reflected, "To be very honest, it's all about good music. Music should win no matter if it's a new label or old label." Aslam feels that newer labels should be encouraged because people need something fresh to listen to.
"So if there’s a bedroom producer listening out there or a writer, who’s writing in the back of his notepad in school..." Rashid asked. "Yeah, come on over here," Aslam invited laughing. "I take pride in my work but it's not very tough to work with me," claimed the Dil Diyan Gallan crooner.
As for the music video of Rafta Rafta, which is set in Gilgit-Baltistan, Aslam shared that he "wanted to showcase the beauty of Pakistan and maybe go on vacation since it’s been a long time." As for his experience working with Sajal Aly, Aslam recalled, "It was brilliant and I’d like to thank her [Sajal] for being a part of the video. She’s a very professional actress and a nice person to work with. We had a great time. I mean, I have no doubts that she represents a bright future."
When Rashid asked the singer if his recent numbers, including the recreation of songs like Kadi Te Hans, were part of a plan to introduce Pakistani music to a new audience, Aslam replied, "To be honest, when you’ve been working for 16 to 17 years, you want to experiment with your sound. I'm at a stage where I want to experiment and create my own genres, so Kadi Te Hans was one such experiment."
Relaying how he wanted his sound to give people the impression that it’s something they haven’t heard before, Aslam continued, "Kadi Te Hans has a great melody and I wanted to pay tribute to the legendary artist Shaukat Ali sahab. My point of doing a cover is to always pay respect to and appreciate the artist because if I'm not going to appreciate the artist, no one is going to appreciate me later on in life."
About his 2004 album Jal Pari, and how he is immensely proud of it, Aslaim remarked, "Creatively, that era was completely different. What people hear today is different, which is why you need to upgrade yourself and reinvent yourself every now and then to understand the industry and the art itself. My only concern is creating music that I think is great."
So whether listeners will be getting something similar to Jal Pari again might not be the relevant question anymore. "There’s a time for everything, Jal Pari had that time. Call me lucky, lucky that everyone appreciated that album," said Aslam humbly.
Dumb luck or raw talent
On that note, Rashid inquired it it was really luck that Aslam made it so far or sheer talent? Whether there was a difference between "being blessed" and "being talented." The Pehli Dafa singer maintained, "Talent is also a blessing, so I mean without it nothing happens. I don’t think it's possible to just be talented," said Aslam.
"There are lots of people who are more talented than me but they haven’t gotten this kind of respect. I admire and appreciate their work," he said, followed by a verse from the Holy Quran which loosely translates to "God gives to whom he pleases." The singer reinstated, "It's all in Allah's hands.”
But even blessings are a duty in disguise, "It doesn’t come easy. It looks easy, but it's not easy at all, it's a huge burden," shared Aslam. "When there’s a label involved, the label comes in for numbers, publicity and this thing called 'number one'. But I don’t consider myself number one. I don’t think there is such a thing. Being number one, being on top and stuff. I think everyone is replaceable," asserted Aslam.
Thus, he shared how projects like Raat are from his heart. "I don't care if the label doesn't release them. I don't care because my music is my music. I should put it out by my gut but I can't be feeding everybody," he said.
Ticket to Bollywood
So among the many ‘blessings’ and ‘burdens’ that landed on his lap were his stints in Bollywood. "There were a few songs I had to change the lyrics for and I really felt bad about it," admitted the Tu Jaane Na singer.
"I didn’t want to do that but yes; I had to for some reasons, which is why I say there's a lot of burden and responsibility. There's a difference in doing your own work and doing it for someone else, "Aslam assured. But the process of working in one of the biggest film industries in the world is something Aslam cherishes till this day. "I loved that journey, it taught me how to be more humble, creative, patient, and also try out new genres and new studios around the world. I don’t think anyone from Pakistan has ever recorded in so many studios and performed at the many venues with every venue and performance having different feels to it," alleged Aslam.
"You were ruling the Bollywood music scene and then there was an abrupt end to everything for reasons beyond human control," pointed out Rashid. "Is looking back on it bittersweet?" he asked.
"It's not bittersweet. You can’t do anything about it," reasoned Aslam. "I don’t look back and regret it. It is interesting in a way, that I have worked the most over there and enjoyed myself thoroughly. The love I’ve gotten from there, I still have it, and my heart has it. It can never be bittersweet," the singer assured.
Not 'busy for SRK'
About reports alleging he refused the offer to sing for a Shah Rukh Khan film, Aslam clarified, "No, no, there was nothing of the sort. I've just come across him once in my life and he was a wonderful person."
He also added that SRK never personally asked him to sing the song. "His team got in touch with us and we recorded the song and sent it back but I don't know what happened. Something happened that was not conveyed to him. Next thing I know, Shah Rukh Khan is saying Atif Aslam is too busy for my song, maybe he's too busy singing for a Chinese film," laughed Aslam, adding, "If Shah Rukh Khan sees this, I was not busy, I can never be busy for you! I’d love to sing for you anytime.”
While promoting his film Dilwale, in one interview, SRK made an interesting revelation. About the film's love anthem Gerua, SRK confessed that Arijit Singh was not his first choice. "We had approached Atif Aslam to sign Gerua first. But he did not have time for me," claimed the superstar. When the interviewer quipped that Aslam was not singing Pakistani songs either, SRK laughed and replied, "Then he must be singing for Chinese films now."
Not self-absorbed either
On a similar tangent, when asked if he listens to his own songs, Aslam replied with a reassuring, "hell no!"
He went on, "When my first record was released, I had some friends in the fashion industry and they told me my song played at a mall in Paris and I was so excited." But after listening to his work now, Aslam critiques it.
Watch the interview here:
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