A lot has been said and written about Pakistani pop icon Atif Aslam in the last few years. In an interview with NISHAD PADIYARATH, the talented singer, who was recently in town, opens his heart.

Atif Aslam is an undisputed pop icon. For the 5,000-odd audience who attended his Salaam 2011 live-in-concert organised by Roar Entertainment last week at the City Amphitheatre in Qurum would agree with that.

The 28-year-old singer has come a long way ever since singing in the Bollywood movie Woh Lamhe. Thereafter, he belted several hits including Pehli Nazar Mein (Race) and Tu Jaane Na (Ajab Prem Ki Gazab Kahani).

Atif is now busy with his international project that includes an album with Guns N’ Roses and handful of musical concerts.

Your acting debut in ‘Bol’ was quite unexpected. Your audi- ence always looked on to you as a pop singer rather than an actor. Has their perception changed in anyway?

Yes, I would rather admit the call from renowned filmmaker Shoaib Mansoor was an unexpected one. He asked if I would be interested in doing the music of Bol. I said why not and suggested we meet. When we did, to my surprise he offered me the chance to act in the lead role. After reading the script, I never thought twice.

Yes, acting came by chance because I never expected it to happen. Soon after Bol was released, I got hundreds of calls from my fans and they have accepted my role and want me to do more movies such as this but the negative criticism that came from my audience is that my role wasn’t enough and left them wanting more. I took that as a motivating factor because their perception has not changed and they want me to experience in new ventures such as acting in movies. Singing and acting requires two energies.

How was the experience working in ‘Bol’ for you? What were your challenges?

In the beginning it was quite challenging because I had no acting experience and delivering dialogues was the most di cult thing for me to do. But after I began to act, I started to learn. Yes, you are right, they require different energies. I just had the experience of acting in music videos which is basically about lip syncing songs and giving expressions that represent what the song is about. While acting for the silver screen, you have to deliver dialogues, remember them and you have to be in a certain frame of mind. It isn’t about being yourself, but about your character. But I did justice to the character to quite an extent and given a chance again to do this same movie I would certainly look for improvement.

You would have certainly got good offers to act in Bollywood films after ‘Bol’. Have you finalised on any offers?

I have got few offers from Bollywood but I am yet to read on any scripts and if they are good certainly I will go for it. It is certainly going to be much larger than Bol. You may never know what is going to happen. Let’s wait and watch. But let me tell you something very straight, I began my career through music without any formal training. I made a mark here in music and I want to continue to focus on music than acting which I see it as different route all-together.

Initially, during your play- back singing career in Bollywood you were criticized by some of the prominent singers. How does it feel to be criticised by your own peers so publicly?

You know when I began singing in Bollywood and when I began to get all these criticisms from those people whom I admire it used to hurt me. But then gradually I began to learn many things and now I got used to it. You won’t believe, I love all the negative publicity made on me because that shows how insecure they are with my success. Those criticisms have made me much more stronger now.

You have got around 2.1 million Facebook fans alone. Yet you had once said that fame just happened. In spite of your phenomenal success do you still believe that?

Thanks for the compliment but yes that is a fact (laughs). I cannot believe that I made it big as a singer. I believe that this fame came by chance and I am living a dream now. I am blessed to see so many people who want to be in my shoes. I am thankful to God but I still believe that I am responsible for quite a lot of things. But you know one thing whatever we achieve in this world is here to stay and we cannot take it away after we die. I always believe this so that is why I do not give ears to negative criticisms.

Originally published on October 13, 2011 in Times of Oman.

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