Ali Zafar hopes to change image with 'Tere Bin Laden'


By Dibyojyoti Baksi

Mumbai, June 21 (IANS) Pakistani singer Ali Zafar doesn't have pleasant memories of his maiden visit to the US and always wanted to change his image there. He says his first Bollywood film "Tere Bin Laden" provides him the opportunity to do so.

"When I started singing, my album 'Channo' became a big international hit. When I went to America with my music, I got negative vibes at the airport. When they saw my Pakistani passport, their attitude was negative. The feeling was that you are not welcome there," Ali told IANS in an exclusive interview.

"I thought the discrimination was unfair. That day I decided I have to do something that will change their attitude towards me, and this film gave me that opportunity," added the 29-year-old, also known as Pakistani Prince of Pop.

Set for a worldwide release July 16, "Tere Bin Laden" is a comedy and it is director Abhishek Sharma's debut movie.

Ali says he was in Mumbai shooting for the film when terrorist attacks rocked the city on 26/11.

"Luckily, we had almost finished shooting. It was very sad to see something like that here. But we (people in Pakistan) are used to such incidents because over there (in Pakistan) blasts are happening every week and people are dying. I really felt bad for the victims and their families. When the relationship between the two countries was getting better, some people did it to jeopardize the whole thing," he said.

Asked was he apprehensive before accepting the role, he said: "Of course, I was apprehensive. I read the script to make sure the content has nothing that would offend anyone. There was nothing like that. It's a fun comedy film."

"The media spread distorted facts about (Osama bin Laden) and the film's story is about that. Who knows where has he been? In the film, it shows that one makes a fake tape on Laden and sells it to the world and the world buys it. So there is nothing to worry about," he added.

Post 26/11 his visa was not cancelled, but this time he has been permitted to tour only three cities.

"There wasn't any issue with my visa after 26/11. I have a multiple entry visa. Further, the Indian consulate was very kind and wished me best of luck. The only thing happened was it took some time, but that's normal.

"I have a work visa. But this time they asked me to choose three cities. So now it's a three-city visa. And I haven't tried going anywhere else except the city I was permitted to visit," Said Ali

The Pakistan censor board has yet to approve the film's release in Pakistan.

"Media in Pakistan has written well about the film. But the film still has to go through the Pakistan censor board. If they will approve it, then only it will be screened there. There films go for censor board approval just a week before release because the prints reach there at that time," he said.