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In conversation with Azfar Rehman

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WHEN DETERMINATION IS THE RULE OF THE GAME

Azfar Rehman is one of those male actors of Pakistan, who because of their director’s actor qualities, become the foremost choice of many projects. Born in Karachi to a Kashmiri family, Azfar started his career as a model when he was 16. After studies, he joined an exclusive English monthly of Pakistan as a journalist. He got his TV break as the host of a celebrity talk show in 2006 called ‘Spotlight with Azfar Rehman’, before turning to acting. Serials like Baityaan, Noor Pur Ki Rani, Dugdugi, Ladies Park, Sitamgar, Bunty I Love You, and most recent Aatish have given him much critical acclaim and praise from the audience. He has also gained label of film star by doing a cameo on ‘Manto’ and a supporting role in ‘Pinjab Nahin  Jaongi’ and now playing lead in an upcoming eid release ‘Chhalawa’. He is very content to work with director like Wajahat Rauf and actors like Mehwish Hayat and hope that this family entertainer will compel audience to come to cinema.

Here is the chat with this hardworking actor about his association and expectations from Chhalawa.  

Now you are a lead in Chhalawa. Are you excited or nervous?

To be honest, I feel a little nervous with this achievement as I believe I must not disappoint my fans and audience. Audience of film pay first before get entertained. So I think it is my responsibility that I should entertain them to my full efforts.

Have you made some extra efforts to become a film hero?

I have been coming as a hero or main lead in dramas for almost last 10 years, but the concept of a hero in a film is something very different. In film, you have to dance well and do fighting and action sequences. I had to go through a new whole training process for this film. 

From trailer, Chhalawa seems to be portraying Punjab. What is your character and have you also spoken Punjabi in film?  

My character in the film is of Urdu speaking boy, while both the heroines belong to Punjabi family. I can’t reveal much but there is full Punjabi tarka in the film.

How much you have danced in the film?

I have two songs on me, full with dance. I hope people will like them. I was a bit tense in beginning but I practiced and got extended training of dance. It was a very refreshing experience. Whab Shah was our choreographer. He has done tremendous job.

How was the experience of working with Mehwish Hayat?

Mehwish is an amazing person. We are family friends for last 11 years. So, being friends, our comfort level has worked a lot in this film. It is also a fact that she is much senior than me in experience as Chhalawa is her seventh and mine is third film, but she is very accommodating and supportive. You learn a lot from her. I never felt that I was working with such a big star.

How was working with Wajahat Rauf?

He was the most supportive in the whole team. He almost spoon feed us everything. I found him very distinctive with entirely different sensibility from the rest of the film makers of the country. His style is slightly westernized and mind-set is very open. Even Mehwish found him very different though she has a quite a good experience of working with many directors. She used to say sometimes during shoot that if she was doing film first time.

Do you think that you have done justice to your role?

I think I did that role quite easily as I am almost the same in my real life. So, I didn’t need to act very differently. There were some emotional scenes (like some heart breaker) where I really had to act.

Is there any specific character which Asfar Rehman wants to do in his career?

What I feel that someone (a writer) should think or design a specific character for me. It should be a character which they think that no other actor can do better than me. I think a good character is a team work or combination of writer, director and actor. A writer creates and develops a character, which is carved by a director for screen and an actor put some soul and life in it. Every legendary character in the history of film has these three forces behind it.

In what genre of films you like most to work in?

I want to do a serious love story, which is a little less depressing than Devdas and much more close to Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak and Mien Ne Pyar Kiya. It should be something like a sheer fantasy love story. I want people to come to cinema to enjoy quality entertainment; laugh, get emotional a bit, listen to good music, watch dances and go home with a light and happy heart.

What do you prefer? Television or film. In Pakistan, we can never leave television as there are not many films being made here. So, to keep our regular earnings coming, we have to continue television and in my case I say yes to good scripts

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ENCOUNTER SCENTS LAUNCHED AT A VIRTUAL EVENT

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US-based brand Encounter Scents under the aegis of Dua Fragrances held its Virtual Launch event orchestrated by Catwalk Event Management & Productions last week with strict Covid SOPs in place.

Hosts Mahsam Raza, CEO of Dua Fragrances and Encounter Scents along with Partner/Board Director, actor, television host and Producer Faysal Quraishi invited guests to a cool ambience comply with socially distanced white benches.

The stage also followed the white theme with a hefty design of the Encounter Scents bottle. On its sides two large screens show-reeled a 90 second promo film and congratulatory shout outs from gift box recipients.

On a corner, an elegant flower-filled barrow fragrance counter held samples of the five existing Encounter Scents For Him and For Her fragrances including COMPLIMENT, CONFIDENCE, ROMANTIC, SEDUCTION & IN THE CLUB.

Guests included members from the entertainment industry including actors; Shahzad Nawaz, Aijaz Aslam, Nabeel Zafar, Naveed Raza, Haroon Shahid, Zain Afzal, Faizan Shaikh, Aadi Adeal Amjad and actress and model Dur-e-Fishan Saleem as well entrepreneur and designer Asim Jofa, and publicist Rasik Ismail. The media, comprising leading bloggers, Vloggers, digital broadcasters and contestants from the game show ‘Khush Raho Pakistan’ which Faisal Quraishi hosts were also present.

Dino Ali conducted the red carpet and stage event and queried from guests about their favourite Encounter fragrance. Some celebrity guests were tested during a blindfold game in which they were asked to try and guess any of the 10 existing scents.

On stage Faysal Quraishi reminisced about his struggling days during which he would still make saving up to buy fragrances a priority, highlighting his lifelong passion for scents.

“When you meet someone something that is indelibly remembered and lingers on after the encounter is the fragrance that the other person was wearing,” Faisal said, adding that he and partner Mahsam had a similar passion for perfume and that there was “a story behind each of the Encounter Scents fragrances.”

Mahsam Raza reiterated this fact when he explained the genesis of one of the fragrances, Confidence for Him.

“Each ingredient was cherry picked according to all the fragrance notes my father liked” adding that all the ingredients used in Encounter Scents are derived straight from the source without a middleman.”

Mahsam went on to speak and enthuse about the brand’s philosophy: “Encounter Scents is dedicated to providing its loyal customers with an assortment of high quality fragrances for all of life’s special moments according to different preferences.”

Mahsam and Faysal also spoke about their focus on establishing the fragrances in Pakistan and “working on many other plans and developing other products.”

Encounter Scents is currently developing another set of six additional fragrances to the line; three for men and three for women.

Encounter Scents fragrances will initially be available only online in Pakistan on the brand’s website with payment made through Shopify. The ordinarily PKR 13,500 fragrances will be offered at an introductory sale price of PKR 10,000 each, accessible through the company’s website www.encounterscents.pk.

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Spotify Premium Launches New Offers for Free

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Summertime, a holiday season, and people consume more music than usual that is why the world’s biggest music streaming service Spotify launches its summer plans for melody lovers.

This summer, Spotify Premium is offering three months free to the eligible and first time-users for its Individual Premium Plan. Moreover, those users, who have cancelled their Individual Premium plan for any reason, can also get them back in just 299 PKR for three months. Both offers are available for the Individual Premium Plan till June 22. To be eligible for the 299 PKR offer, subscribers must have cancelled their plan on or before April 26.

Spotify Premium gives subscribers an audio streaming experience with ad-free music listening, and on-demand audio anytime. On Spotify, users get access to more than 70 million tracks and four billion playlists right at their fingertips. So whether one is away from home or sitting at the cosy home, Spotify covers it. The service makes it easier for its users to find their favourite music and check out their very own personalized playlists like Discover Weekly, Spotify Mixes, Time Capsule and more.

For details, head to Spotify.com/Premium to sign up.

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Our Society Has Not Accepted Music As A Profession: Muhammad Ali Shyhaki

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Mohammed Ali Shyhaki is a well-known name in Pakistan entertainment industry. He is among the ones who introduced the genre of pop and rock music in Pakistan. Started his music career in the 1970s, Shyhaki earned a name and fame as ace star in Pakistani pop music and as a playback singer.

His patriotic song ‘Main Bi Pakistan Hoon’ and folk song ‘Teray Ishq Mein Jo Bhi Doob Gaya’, with famous folk singer Allan Fakir are still popular among masses.

Shyhaki also acted in a few films. Some of his films achieved success at the box office but the industry was already on the decline, so he left films. His film Choron ka Badshah (1988) celebrated platinum jubilee.

His family name ‘Shyhaki’ comes from his Iranian father who used to work at the Iranian Consulate in Karachi. After graduating from NED University of Engineering and Technology, Karachi, Pakistan, he made a short-lived career in aviation but could not find him fit for the profession and got back to his passion, music.

The government of Pakistan recently awarded him the ‘Pride of Performance’ for his services to the music industry of Pakistan.

Daily Paperazzi reached to this legend and talked about his recent achievement and current activities.

Don’t you think that you must’ve have got this award a long time ago?

Yes. It seems true. But I leave things to God. He can better decide what is and when is something better for us. We can only work hard which I think I did to my best.

Your fans see you very seldom these days. Why?

There was a time when we (musicians of his generation) were everywhere and all the time on television. Then policies changed and channels started to give more priority to current affairs and politics on their screens. People were also enjoying them. Ratings got higher and ultimately these channels started to get more advertisements for political talk shows rather than entertainment. They might decide why to spend money on musicians (and their tantrums) and other entertainment programs with less profit in return. Instead they just set up studios, hired a host, and called two politicians, and then a hot debate started. It cost them much less but earned more.

What do you do to satisfy the artist inside you?

I do private shows. I always go and perform when someone calls me with respect.  Moreover, I have established a registered YouTube channel where I put up short durations programs and shows along with my radio show which I do every week on FM 100. The program also goes live on the channel’s Facebook page. I have a right to download it, edit it and upload on my official channel so anyone can watch and enjoy it.

You have studied civil engineering. So how did you come into the field of showbiz and music?

I thought I was not fit for the job of an engineer. I didn’t realise it when studying but when it came to be a professional I could not implement it.

In meantime, to my surprise, I met many who could not even write a single sentence but passed the exams and got the job. I also got the job but I could not sustain it for more than 6 months as my boss had a laid back attitude and was not ready to take any responsibility for his work. He also asked me to do the same. I thought it was not just to get earnings without taking any responsibility and doing things in a right way. Moreover, naturally, I was more comfortable in performing arts than engineering.

You are among the founders of pop music in Pakistan. How did you modify the pure pop rock from the west for your Eastern Listeners?

Music is like a bara masala ki chaat in which the more you put in the more it becomes interesting and appealing for the audience. We always do experiment to transform music, for instance, there was a time when bhangra was a hit thing with amalgamation of pop and rap.

You have worked in films as well. Tell us something about it?

It is an interesting story. Director Iqbal Yousuf approached me and offered a role in his film. I was shocked. I asked him to hire me as a playback singer but he was adamant for me to act, He said, “Tum film material ho.”  It was a time when I had returned from the USA. He cast me as lead in ‘Son Of Andata’. It was kind of a debut.  Then I was cast in a very challenging role in ‘Pyar Do a Maar Do’. It was a quite difficult topic and co-production between Pakistan, Bangladesh, Singapore and Malaysia. The film could not be run in Pakistani cinemas as the censor board said it was promoting Bengali and Hindu culture. The story demanded all the female characters wear Saris while male cast wore lungis. I did 10 movies altogether. Among them almost 4 were released while the rest are still in boxes or files

Do you think that what appreciation and promotion our artists and performing arts are getting on state level is enough for the betterment of this industry?

To be honest I feel general public has not accepted us as part of the society.  It not only includes the showbiz or performing arts but also the artists who paint, write or do any other creative trait. We are not considered as normal as we are not working 9 to 5.  They ask why he is charging so much money just from singing. What he is doing is so big. I ask them why they don’t do this. I know everybody can’t do everything. It means this is an extraordinary talent which God has given to some of his people. If they can’t or don’t want to do it, hen deny to accept it. This is not fair. I believe that it is only God to decide from which profession we would earn. 

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