I partly lead the rockstar life I’ve made fun of: Ali Zafar

Published: August 26, 2015
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Musician talks to The Express Tribune about his comeback stint on ‘Coke Studio’ season 8.

Musician talks to The Express Tribune about his comeback stint on ‘Coke Studio’ season 8.

KARACHI: 

With Ali Zafar known as the good boy of the Pakistani entertainment industry, many fans may find it hard to relate to his big and bold persona as he makes his way back into Coke Studio with Rockstar.

Swaying from side to side along with the gold chains dangling from his Ali Xeeshan jacket, he belts out the hook of the song, touting himself as the unstoppable superstar ‘AZ’. But where he pokes fun at the lifestyle of the rich and famous on-screen, he also makes us wonder if his off-screen self is somewhat an extension of the badass rockstar image he satirises.

“Partly,” says Ali laughingly. “I partly lead the rockstar life I’ve made fun of.” Ali’s first out of three stints on Coke Studio season 8 has so far received polarised reviews, with some labelling him as being too full of himself. Shrugging off this perception, he explains how it takes a good sense of humour to perform a self-deprecating song. “This is a first for me. I don’t think I’m arrogant otherwise I wouldn’t have made such a song.”

Although people may disagree on whether or not they like the song, there’s no gainsaying that it merits applause for being experimental. Given that he has not only explored diverse styles of music as an independent artist but also as a Bollywood film composer, it was no easy feat for him to come up with something that has never been done on the Coke Studio platform before. The result was Rockstar, for which he struck up the composition with the house band in the first three to five minutes of their jamming session. “After this, I went on with the lyric-writing process,” he shares.

Ali states that the lyrics of the song are such that they bring out child-like enthusiasm in people. “They remind me of how I used to perceive rockstars when I was a kid,” he states. The tongue-in-cheek lyrics also helped him become more relaxed and expressive while performing the song. Describing Rockstar as commentary on the larger-than-life lifestyle of musicians and the subsequent media circus, he said the song, a complete U-turn from his previous appearances on the show, amped up the energy on the sets.

“I’ve always believed that every artist is unique and has his own style. When I performed Dastaan-e-Ishq, I was in a completely different zone … of spirituality. On the contrary, there’s an aspect of vanity and arrogance in Rockstar, which required me to get more animated,” he notes. Having also established himself as an actor, Ali realised he would have to up his game to remind the audiences of his skill and showmanship as a singer.

But he credits his acting stints in Bollywood for uplifting his performance on the show. “Working with different choreographers across the border has definitely helped me improve. Dancing and singing at the same time is very difficult and fortunately, I have been able to better that side of me.”

Returning to the show after a gap of more than six years, Ali feels nostalgic about how the show has grown and progressed over the years. He considers himself lucky to be a part of Coke Studio’s founding team of musicians, who kickstarted the venture nearly a decade ago. Ali is slated to perform two more songs this season, one of which includes a duet with house band member Sara Haider.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 27th, 2015.

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Reader Comments (12)

  • Sonia Butt
    Aug 27, 2015 - 6:42AM

    Ali Zafar missed a great opportunity to make a great song, but the mildly talented singer/actor is seeing his mediocre carreer fizzle. He refused to act or sing much in Pakistan thinking he would do the Bollywood bangrathen when he was rich & famous he would boasts his way back to Pakistan. It never happened his Bollywood carreerended & they have stopped calling. He is now trying to re-invent himself& also by this song the results are in….this song was poorly written there are so many talented peoplewho could do a much better job!Recommend

  • Amir Khan
    Aug 27, 2015 - 9:13AM

    Terrible song the worst …Coke Season 8 should be more critical of untalented material being wasted with so many great singers available. Recommend

  • Tehsin Shah
    Aug 27, 2015 - 10:59AM

    Way to go AZ. Breathtaking performance and a very well drafted song indeed. Dont pay heed to critics like Sonia Butt and Amir Khan who are always there to pull legs when an artist is at his/her best. Recommend

  • Muhammad Yousuf Ali
    Aug 27, 2015 - 1:33PM

    After, so much hype of this pathetic song on the internet, I listened to this crap. He does not even know the meaning of Rockstar, he claims himself as so called a Rockstar, playing Kishore Kumar stuff on guitar…..does not get him the title of Rockstar. Ali Zafar, if you are a true Rockstar, why don’t you cover some great Rock Songs in next coke studio, with guitar solos played by yourself…Recommend

  • Shaharyar Shahzad
    Aug 27, 2015 - 4:55PM

    Ah wonderful job with the song Ali. Hilarious lyrics, beautiful composition, amazing vocals.The people hating on this song truly don’t have any idea about sarcasm. The first line itself depicts humor and nothing serious. Plus Ali is not a rock singer. He is the prince of pop and his take on the life of a ‘rockstar’ is supposed to be funny and not to be taken seriously.Recommend

  • Midhat
    Aug 27, 2015 - 8:57PM

    This song serves like my daily dose of caffeine n my way to work! Just pumps energy into the system. Absolutely Rocking and fun. A good change in CS from the usual serious orthodox songsRecommend

  • Habiba
    Aug 27, 2015 - 9:13PM

    This is so funny and amusing. Seems like the song which has already become a national phenomenon and the most talked about song of the season has really hit some people badly who are venting out here as sonia, Amir or Yousaf. Haha. Wake up guys. The song has already done the damage while you guys are cribbing over why you couldn’t do anything in life. Don’t be cry babies and be jealous. Ali Zafar has once again shown his unmatchable talent and people like you are once again unhappy and will keep getting frustrated. Hahahah. Grow up. Recommend

  • komal
    Aug 27, 2015 - 10:18PM

    So people here comes another master piece by ali zafar my roooooockstar. …I love him entirely with all my heart. ..
    Please pay no heed to amirs comment for he probably very judjemental about everything. …
    This song is totally perfect and can uplift a sad mind and heart. …
    way to go ali….may u get all the success in the world coz u truly deserve it.Recommend

  • Umair
    Aug 28, 2015 - 1:08AM

    First of all I’m not impressed with the singers line up in Coke Studio Season 8.Those singers who deserves to be in this show are not in it.I was expecting to watch Falak Shabir,Shahida Mini,Imran Khan (Amplifier fame),Annie Khalid,and many classical and folk singers from PTV National who have never been in Coke Studio,instead of overrated singers like Atif Aslam or Ali Zafar with their overrated performances.Shahida Mini have the most powerful female voice in Pakistan which is similar to Noor Jehan,but Coke Studio never invited her,instead they invite novices like Mai Dhai and Gul Panrra.Coke Studio Pakistan is not a joke,its the Sound of the Nation.
    Second,Coke Studio needs to be innovative,not “lakeer ka faqeer”.It needs to introduce our traditional musical instruments to our youth which includes Ghatam,Kanjira,Pakhawaj,Santoor and Jal Tarang,instead of boring guitar and piano.Do our youth know about these musical instruments? There can be a classical instrumental jugalbandi between Tabla,Ghatam,Kanjira,Pakhawaj,Santoor and Jal Tarang.That is music.Only then Coke Studio can progress and reach at the level where I expect it to be.Recommend

  • Lubna Latif
    Aug 28, 2015 - 2:18AM

    So now AZ has his publicity department write positive comments about his rag performance so he can revive this miserable song? He banked on his ++ pretty boy looksbut alas Fawad Khan stole that sop he spots a glitter filled jacket rented by his posh designer pals to try & fool the intelligence of real music lovers if you think this song is crazy good then **your taste in good music has taken a deep dive for the worst!Recommend

  • Javed Abedin
    Aug 28, 2015 - 4:15AM

    I live thew life of a rockstar… according to AZ is this man dysfunctional or just plain disillusioned? Pakistani music is doing quite well we have some brillant talent in male & female singers but AZ is not in that class & with this song he has cemented his singing career to a lower level!Recommend

  • Javed Abedin
    Aug 28, 2015 - 4:16AM

    I livlife of rockstar… according to AZ is this man dysfunctional or just plain disillusioned? Pakistani music is doing quite well we have some brillant talent in male & female singers but AZ is not in that class & with this song he has cemented his singing career to a lower level!Recommend

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