If you are talking about Pakistani singers ruling Bollywood then you cannot miss out big names like Adnan Sami, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Shafqat Amanat Ali. Then there is 30-year-old Atif Aslam, with over two million fans on Facebook. He was an instant star with songs like Woh Lamhe, Aadat and Tere Bin. The Pakistani singer, now based in Dubai, has also been seen in reality shows like Sur Kshetra on Zee.
Having recently married his girlfriend of seven years, Sara Bharwana, Aslam tells us about new projects like Ramaiya Vasta Vaiya and why he believes in quality over quantity:
I do not have a signature style of singing. I have never wondered if this is an advantage or not. It feels great to have got international recognition now. The last movie I sang for was The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Mira Nair wanted the old Atif Aslam and that is how I bagged Mori Araj Suno, a poetic and meaningful song. I have three songs in the movie Ramaiya Vasta Vaiya, which is a rom-com directed by Prabhu Deva. I do not want to overload myself and believe in the quality of work. The three songs are ‘Jeene Laga Hoon’, ‘Bairiyan’ and ‘Rang Jo Lagyo’ and personally, I love ‘Bairiyan’ for its soft and melodious beats.
The business model for albums has changed. It is better to release singles, which is what I am going to do. The untitled album is inspired by ‘Mori Araj Suno’ and thus includes Sufi poetry. Most of my songs are about people I meet and love. I do not take inspiration from one single person.
Nature often inspires me. I also follow Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. When I became a part of Sur Kshetra, a reality show that has singers from India and Pakistan. I was under the impression that the entire competition was going to be friendly and entertaining. But the opposite happened. I had to be very careful with what I was saying and a couple of times we had arguments too.
My favourite performance is my first, at McDonald’s in Lahore, 2002, where we were paid Rs 500 for a gig. We were singing and playing the guitar when the manager asked us to stop, so we stepped outside the store and started performing. The second best, was in Oslo.