Ali Zafar on “London, Paris, New York”, Negative Shades and His Marriage to Music

Ali Zafar takes on his first lead romantic role in "London Paris New York". (Photo: Fox Star Studios)

Ali Zafar takes on his first lead romantic role in "London Paris New York". (Photo: Fox Star Studios)

It’s been just under two years since Ali Zafar burst onto the Bollywood scene in the offbeat comedy, “Tere Bin Laden”. But the Pakistani singer-turned-actor is already a household name in India and, with another hit “Mere Brother Ki Dulhan” under his belt, Zafar is in high demand among the industry’s younger talent. As he gears up for his third major release, “London, Paris, New York”, the actor chats exclusively with Divanee on what sets this film apart from the rest, how he juggles both music and movies, and why he’d like to get in touch with his dark side.

How would you describe London, Paris, New York’s unique factor?
I think it’s a very coming-of-age love story. [What's unique] is just the way that these two characters speak the language, the narrative of the film, and the way it’s been treated across three beautiful cities. Maybe this is happening for the first time, but the guy and the girl are singing their own songs. That’s also a unique factor.

To date, your films have featured you in more of a light-hearted, comedic role. Has this been a conscious decision on your part, and what other genres would you like to explore?
Not at all. “Tere Bin Laden” was my first film, and it was not a romantic film. It was one of the very few films in which the lead didn’t have a romantic role. Only “Mere Brother Ki Dulhan” had romance. Having said that, the comic element has been there. The good scripts that have come my way have had that comic element to them. It’s a coincidence, but I would like to diversify. London, Paris, New York is not exactly comedy–it’s a romantic film which has comic moments in it.

Of course, you recorded all of your own tracks for London, Paris, New York. As a singer, how involved are you when it comes to producing the music of your films?
I didn’t just produce the music–I also wrote the lyrics and composed the music and also arranged it and played some instruments. For example, in the main song “Woh Dekhne Mein”, the piano has been played by me. There have been other people involved in the project, [but] most of the recordings I’ve done myself in my studio while we were working on the film. While we were shooting for the film, I’d run to the music studio to record stuff. The day my brother was getting married, I was running to my studio in my house and spent some time working on the music, then ran back down for his wedding. If you want to achieve something, you have to work hard.

Ali Zafar and co-star Aditi Rao Hydari in "London, Paris, New York". (Photo: Fox Star Studios)

You’ve just embarked on your acting career in the last couple of years. Who are some artists with whom you would love to share the screen?
I would like to play something which is not me at all–a character for which I have to struggle, maybe a bad guy with some negative shades. And I’d love to share the screen with Mr. [Amitabh] Bachchan.

Your last studio album released just about a year ago. How often will you record your own music now that you simultaneously acting?
I’m recording my music all the time. I carry my recorder with me, my guitar with me. Music is a very integral part of my being, and I cannot stop making music.

You are a Pakistani actor working in India and a shining example of what sort of positive collaboration can result from the two countries working together. How has your experience in India been thus far?
Extremely positive. I have only received love and appreciation from here. I just hope people from both sides of the border can go to each others’ countries and experience what I am experiencing.

The state of politics in Pakistan has become increasingly complicated over the past few years. What do you think the country needs right now?
The country needs a good leader. A credible leader whom everybody trusts.

Finally, bringing it back to London, Paris, New York, if you had just one line to sum up why the audience should go out and see this film, what would it be?
London, Paris, New York is love, laughter and nostalgia.

London, Paris, New York official trailer:

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Sabrina Siddiqui is the editor-in-chief of Divanee.com.

@sabrinasiddiqui