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I didn’t get my due: Shafqat Amanat Ali

“Bollywood has place for artistes from across the world, then why point figure at artistes from one particular country?”

He comes from the seventh generation of the Patiala Gharana, started singing at the age of four and has been fondly named ‘Rock Star Ustad’ by music composer Salim Merchant. Still, singer Shafqat Amanat Ali insists that he has a lot to do in life and make a lot of dreams come true.

“There is no one who does not dream. We are all dreamers and the one who stops dreaming does not live. I don’t dream the unachievable, but yes, I do dream,” says Shafqat in a very poetic way. The singer is excited about his second solo album. “This time we have kept in mind what the youngsters would like to listen to. There is a lot of fusion and rock music in this album,” he says.

Shafqat used to be the lead singer of the band Fuzon. The band belted out some chartbuster songs like Khamaj, but split in 2006. Shafqat has never gone into details of why the band split. “Without going into the details, I can say that the reason for the band’s split was insecurity. I tried my best to keep everything under control but one fine day I lost all my patience,” he says. His band members Imu and Shallum had once said in an interview that Shafqat took the finances of the band under his control and also started doing solo concerts in India. “Money was not even the last thing that I was interested in when I was a part of the band. Earnings were divided equally among band members. And in fact, I had not started performing in India till then. It was only after I had officially split from the group that I started performing in India,” he clarifies and claims that while he did most of the work for the band, he never got the due credit. “I don’t want to sound like I am boasting, but when I was a part of Fuzon, I was doing the vocals, was designing the backup vocals, composing and writing the lyrics. More or less, I was doing everything. Then later I read somewhere that my band members had said that they had composed the album, and that hurt me. They should have given me credit. Interestingly, there were almost seven raag-based compositions in the album and they didn’t know anything about raagas, so how could they have they composed the music for it? This all was very sad … very sad!”

After Shafqat started performing India, he caught the attention of Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and was later offered to sing Mitwa in Karan Johar’s movie Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. “I have been very lucky to work with the artistes who are the best in their field, like Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Salim-Sulaiman. Whenever I have been called to sing for a Bollywood movie, I have been called for something special,” he shares.

Shafqat is not the first Pakistani singer to make a space for himself in Bollywood and Indian hearts because of his talent. There are many Pakistani artistes who have made it big here. However, some Indian artistes think that too much importance is being given to Pakistani artistes. “Bollywood is a vast business area and has room for artistes from the rest of the world. So why point figure at just one particular country’s artistes?” asks he, adding, “I am glad that Aman Ki Aasha was conceptualised. This, I hope, will only get the brothers from both sides of the LOC closer. I only can hope, pray and help in my own way for this initiative so that it reaches its destination. More attempts like this can bridge the divide between the two countries. I hope I live to see the day when we don’t need visas to travel between the two countries.”

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