Ali Zafar is a man of many talents. He is a singer, actor, lyricist and has now become a producer with the Pakistani comedy-action film, Teefa In Trouble, which is distributed by one of India’s leading production companies, Yash Raj Films.
We have seen Ali act in Bollywood films like Tere Bin Laden and London Paris New York (to name a few) but with Teefa, he is set to make his debut in Pakistani cinema as an actor, as well as a producer under the ‘Lightingale Productions’ banner.
Teefa In Trouble is a fun-filled rollercoaster ride featuring Ali Zafar as Teefa – ace enforcer, collector, and lovable rogue, trouble is his middle name.
He heads from the by-lanes of Lahore on orders from Butt Sahab (Mehmood Aslam), a Lahori gangster, to the superhighways of Warsaw to bring Anya (Maya Ali) – daughter of the Polish gangster “Bonzo” (Javed Sheikh), to marry Butt’s beloved son “Billu Butt”.
With Bonzo’s bullies and the police on one side, and Butt’s goons on the other, Teefa is in serious Trouble this time.
In conversation with Filme Shilmy, Ali Zafar opens up on his action-packed journey of Teefa In Trouble and a lot more!
Ali, Be it Tere Bin Laden or Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, you seem to be quite comfortable in doing light-hearted roles. Did this contribute to your decision to produce and act in Teefa In Trouble?
You can say that… I just like to be comfortable in whatever in life and in any project that I’m doing. I feel that when you have confidence in what you’re doing, you instantly become comfortable.
I feel that this comfort shows in your character or the rendition you’re trying to apply.
So what made you comfortable about Teefa In Trouble?
I think it was just the idea, the spark and as soon as it came, it just felt right. Since the time of its conception to the time of release now, it has just been pure magic with everything.
You are the composer, singer, actor and producer of the film. Was it a struggle to balance these multiple roles throughout the making of this movie? If so, how did you manage it?
It certainly wasn’t easy. It was very taxing sometimes… Challenging I would say. But then again, I thrive off challenging myself to accomplish bigger and tougher goals and dreams. It requires a lot of discipline and a certain will.
I think once you achieve the targets, the satisfaction and gratification you feel from this are indescribable. With this film, I just can’t describe it in words.
More than balancing the role, how did you maintain a calm mental stability during stressful times?
I would just close my eyes, connect within and pray. Then things would be okay.
It’s wonderful to see you back in an action-packed avatar since Kill Dil. What training did you undergo for the character of Teefa?
The training was extremely tough. We had decided that I would do all the action and stunts myself, so I had to train physically for many months.
I had to become a fighter. Then I had to train according to the details of the fight choreography.
It was definitely challenging and taxing. I would spend two hours in the gym and I was on a particular diet. We had to shoot continuously for 18 hours per day, running on very little sleep.
We have tried to raise the bar and do something so that people can remember and be entertained by.
The movie marks Yash Raj Films’ (YRF) first time distributing a Pakistani film. But besides the production side of the film, how (if at all) did they contribute to the creative aspect of Teefa In Trouble?
Creatively, the film was already done when I showed it to YRF and they loved it. It is very kind of them that such a respected and esteemed distribution house came on board to distribute my film.
But in terms of creativity, before I started writing the film, I would have these creative conversations with Aditya Chopra about movies and I told him that one day I will make my own film. I told him that I would want him to see and distribute it.
It finally happened.
Hopefully, there will be more collaborations with YRF in the future?
I certainly hope so!
The movie itself exudes strong YRF vibes too?
Yashji (Yash Chopra) and Aditya Chopra’s cinema have always had an impact on our lives. The most important thing is that they have always spoken the language of love on-screen and off-screen.
That’s what I believe in and that’s what the movie is all about. So it was just to have the right energy and I really do miss Yashji. I wish I could show him the film too.
For me, that connection has always been there and on a sub-conscious level, it remained there, as a part of my being. This is a reason why it is reflected in the film as well.
Listen to our full interview with Ali Zafar right here!
From the trailer, it seems like Teefa confronts every trouble with humour and courage. How does Ali Zafar deal with trials and tribulations in life?
Oh, I think I have a much calm and cooler approach (laughs). Teefa just picks up a danda and beats people up!
In a lot of cases, I let Karma deal with a lot of the things. You’ve got take life in its stride and be cool about it.
As long as you’re calm and satisfied with your inner-self and on the right side of history, you’re good to go!
Let’s talk about your work. Being a non-Bollywood artist, you have faced many hurdles and backlashes in your career. From where did you find the strength to remain calm and positive?
Strength comes from within and one must do a lot of introspection. As the great Sufi says, “the entire universe is inside you and so are all the answers.”
You just have to dig deep and connect with that one source, which will always be the greatest and the source that will give you strength.
Philosophy and spirituality can truly help during challenging times?
Exactly. It just makes things so much more understandable and easy to deal with. When you know why or what is happening, you have more control.
I don’t think one should ‘go’ with the flow, but ‘be’ the flow.
Pakistani cinema seems to be undergoing a revival. In your opinion, what do you feel is contributing towards this progress?
I think it is the understanding of the opportunity that we can make up for the lost time because our industry went through a rough and bad patch.
Everybody is wanting to change that and get our industry to a high-level. You know, there’s a big market for Pakistan as it is the 6th most populated country in the world.
The potential is amazing and the new-lot (of artists) are Gung-Ho about playing a part in this revival!
Now that you’ve established yourself as a producer, could we next see Ali Zafar as a director anytime soon?
You could, anything is possible! I would love to direct someday, but for now, all the things that I am doing right now is enough for me to handle. I would love to direct something at some point.
Here’s wishing Ali Zafar all the very best for Teefa In Trouble and all forthcoming projects. The film releases this Friday on 20th July.