Saturday, February 25, 2006

Conquering the world - Atif Aslam


After the massive success of his debut album Jal Pari, and after his music was included in the soundtracks of Bollywood movies, Atif Aslam's songs have now been featured in the international production 'Man Push Cart', the film that was recently premiered at the Venice Film Festival, and also won the 'FIPRESCI Critics Award'. We caught up with Atif to ask him about his latest ventures...

Us: How does it feel to hear your songs in Indian movies and be recognized on the other side of the border?
Atif Aslam: Alhumd-o-lillah, it feels great. People call me from across the border and say that when they are sad my music relaxes them and helps wipe off their tears, and it's a blessing if you can make people happy and make them forget their sorrows. Secondly, it makes me feel that I have done something for my nation; beside your own recognition, people also recognize your country, and this has proved that our pop industry has the potential to create waves in Bollywood. I also feel that music has no boundaries and the more music markets you explore the more you learn, so it was a wonderful experience. According to their local channel Zoom, my song Woh Lamhay, is among the 'ten most evergreen songs of Indian film industry', which is an honour for me. The remix version is being played all over the world in all the clubs, discos, and theatres, which makes me feel very satisfied.

Us: How did the 'Man Push Cart' project come about?
Atif: We were approached by Ramin Behrani, the director of the movie 'Man Push Cart', from Hollywood. He got hold of my album through the hero of the film, and listened and understood my songs. The movie is basically the story of a singer, so I thought we must go for it. The story basically revolves around a Pakistani guy trying to settle in USA, who gives a positive turn to his life by exploring his talent of singing and that's where my songs come into the movie. The film got a tremendous response at the Venice film festival and was greatly appreciated by the president of the festival. Almost all the Hollywood celebrities attended the film festival which gave an extended exposure to my voice, and of course it's a matter of great pride for our nation as well that after Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and the Strings, God gave me this opportunity to show my talents there.

Us: New album: progress? When will it be released?
Atif: I'm working on it ... don't have a precise release date yet.

Us: Your videos have received a lot of criticism. Is there anything you want to say in response to that?
Atif: Well, I admit that the quality of my videos was not that good. Some people were stealing my songs, so I had to make the videos in a rush in order to save and register my other songs. But Insha Allah you will see some good videos now.

Us: Any particular directors you'd like to work with?
Atif: I think everyone is doing a great job. I don't have any priorities; anyone who can handle the subject of the song artistically would be a good choice for me.

Us: Looking at the music industry right now, where do you think it stands?
Atif: I think everyone is doing great right now. Our industry is just flourishing. It will take another five years or so for it to have a proper professional shape. Channels are helping newcomers in establishing their careers. But I would like to say to the newcomers that don't come in the industry just for fame and other benefits; try to satisfy your inner passion for music if you really have it.

Us: Are you interested in acting? Any chance we'll see you in a film or TV drama/play anytime soon?
Atif: Right now I'm concentrating only on singing. No ideas about acting yet, but I guess if I receive a good role, I may try it.

Us: Rumour has it that you've sold the rights of some of your songs. Is there any truth behind this whatsoever?
Atif: Rumours are rumours. Just don't trust them. My songs are mine.

Us: You've won the award for 'Best Upcoming Singer' at the Sahara Sangeet Awards, and the Indus Music Awards for 'Best Song', 'Best Composition', and 'Best Lyrics'. How much importance do awards and award shows hold for you?
Atif: It feels great to have won these awards. But I guess the biggest award and reward is your personal satisfaction and the love of the people you get in response to your music. Awards are a great tool to encourage artists, but I guess awards should have some merits and authenticity to some level through some experienced and honest judges.

Us: Any message for your fans?
Atif: Love you all! Keep praying and continue supporting me like this. We have to go a long way together. Your prayers have led me to this height and place. And I would like to express my profound wishes to my parents, brothers, friends, and fans.

Us: And our readers have chosen you as their favourite artist of 2005 in a poll that we conducted a few weeks ago...
Atif: Thanks a lot! Thank you all for your consistent support. Young people are the most energetic in their response in any concert at any performance. I love performing for the kids - they scream a lot, and that's the real enjoyment of a concert. Most of my audience is related to the age group that read this magazine. Just follow your passion till you master it!

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 24th February, 2006

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