KARACHI: It would be incorrect to label Yasir Akhtar as a product of the 1980s and 1990s: an era when Bunny found his romance for the sea view and Aamir Saleem kept waiting for the ‘Ajnabi’ who only called her once, on a cool December evening. The Arid Zone fame started as a four-year-old child artiste in 1970s and went on to be a part of the lot that defined the future Pakistani entertainment.
After spending a decade in the UK media industry with his production house Pegasus Productions, Singer-turned-actor is all set to return to Pakistan to collaborate on a series of musical-films in a joint venture between Pakistan and UK.
“I am returning so that I can introduce some fresh talent in the industry, just like I introduced the likes of Humayun Saeed, Javeria Abbasi, Shamoon Abbasi and Nida Yasir, back in the day,” Akhtar told The Express Tribune.
Apache Indian, Yasir Akhtar and Sheeba Khan
As a kid, Akhtar got a taste of how the entertainment business works while spending time in his uncle, writer-director Javed Jabbar’s advertising agency.
Eventually he started appearing in drama serials for veteran producers and, it was during his time as an actor, that he laid the groundwork for his staircase to fame — his music career.
He burst onto the new music scene of Pakistan as a 17-year-old with his pop band, Arid Zone. He went onto release The Arid Zone Volume 1, The Arid Zone — Jogi with the band and Yasir — My Love with the classic ‘Oh my love’ was his solo project.
Akhtar noted that nowadays artistes are delivering hits by the minute but the songs are not “remembered for long” by the audiences. “We used to work on each track for months in EMI Pakistan studios and Shadab Studios in Karachi,” said Akhtar.
As a musician , he not only released hits such as ‘Kabhi To Hoga Mera Milan’, ‘Aey Sanam’, ‘Aaja Balaiye’ and ‘Sohniye’ but also worked with a multitude of artistes on numerous famous songs such as the evergreen Arid Zone, Yatagan and Fringe Benefits collaboration — ‘Pyar Diyan Gallan’.
Despite all these hits against his name, one thing that he is most fondly remembered for is injecting the performance culture into Pakistani music videos and live shows.
While crediting this trait to his childhood influences Elvis Presley, Prince, Michael Jackson, U2 and Alam Lohar, he said he had always been a jumping Jack and felt his performance style complemented his music, which was “full of life.”
These aspirations seemed to grow stronger as time progressed and became a major reason for him switching to TV dramas for projects such as Mera Ghar Aik Whirlpool, Jayen Kahan Armaan and Tapal Cinema.
“I have always given gaps between my musical releases. The reason is simply my involvement in my own film production company. After, ‘Yasir — My Love’, I was busy in a long running drama serial Jayen Kahan Armaan.”
Apart from that the actor also directed Pakistan’s first ever and by far the most memorable pop charts show, Music Channel Charts (MCC). During the running of the show, Akhtar directed around 90 music videos of musicians like Najam Sheeraz, Fakhre-Alam, Shehzad Roy, Collage, Komal Rizvi and Nadeem Jafri among many others.
The frequency of his Pakistani TV productions declined since he moved to UK as his company focuses more on producing drama serials for the South Asian audience. Sard Aag in particular was huge hit among the desis.
“After experiencing all areas of the media industry for more than a decade in Pakistan, I wanted to explore more markets and discover new boundaries. So I decided to have another base in England. The United Kingdom supports its multi-cultural society and promotes all cultures”.
With several projects such as a film and drama already in the pipeline, the versatile artiste hopes to appear in a season of Coke Studio and revisit his old tracks such as ‘Chandni, Lout Aao Na’, and ‘My Love’.
“I would love to make improvisations in these popular tracks for my audiences.”
Akhtar also wants to meet his mother, extended family and relatives who he had been missing him for a long time.These days Akhtar is based in Manchester and spends most of his free time with his wife, Lubna, and children, Zaryab Akhtar and Alizeh Akhtar.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 1st, 2015.
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