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Danyal Zafar Unplugged

Blooded as singer, composer, and now actor, Ali Zafar’s kid bro is eager to make his own mark.

He is busy these days shooting for the drama serial Tana Bana directed by the veteran Saife Hasan for Ramazan special transmission. But singer-actor Danyal Zafar took the time out to have a tête-à-tête with The Truth International (TTI).

This is Danyal’s second acting project after he debuted as the lead in Mahira Khan’s first production venture Baarwan Khiladi, a web series for OTT platform Tapmad TV.

Explaining his role in Baarwan Khiladi, Danyal said, “I am depicting the role of an aspiring cricketer who has honed his natural batting talent by playing at the streets of neighborhood. Luckily one day he gets the chance to play at the club level. How his journey goes beyond is the crux of the story.”

In between there are elements of romance, friendship, rivalry, and sportsman spirit, that makes Baarwan Khiladi a complete entertaining story, he added.

Zafar says he had not played cricket before this except some very basic cricket in his childhood. So how did he step into the avatar of a cricketer? “I did the net practice of cricket for about two weeks dealing with hard balls as since our childhood we had been playing with tape ball”, says Danyal.

“My cousin Saad who is very keen on cricket helped me a lot in learning and improving my actions, body language, attitude, and mannerism of a professional cricketer. Besides, I also watched videos of international players.”

Talking about his director Adnan Sarwar, the actor said that he wanted him to know all the rules of the game as when we got to the shoot on a pitch of real stadiums with club-level professional cricketers. “I should be ready to act on his direction like if he asked me to go for sixer, boundary and even get out”.

Before his foray into acting, he started his career from singing and composing and Music is Danyal’s first love. He says doing music fulfills him better than anything else.

Asked why most of his songs are in English, Danyal said he grew up listening to English music and that was actually the reason for his tilt towards doing music in that language.

“It was around 2009 when Ali [Zafar] Bhai gifted me a Zen mp3 which had English music from classics like Led Zeppelin to Pink Floyd. Moreover in those days I made a trip to the United States with my parents and that mp3 was with me throughout the time.

“To be honest, I was just immersed in my music and visiting and observing places was not my interest at all on that tour. So that was the time when I discovered my passion for music.

“It was easier for me, in the beginning, to write my songs in English as I could express myself better in that language. I have also done Urdu songs but as I had not listened too much desi music, I had to struggle a lot to write those songs.”

Danyal admitted that his Urdu songs are liked better. He has also created his niche in Punjabi songs which he said he really enjoyed, as he found them closer to his heart.

Asked if he worries about his listener base doing music in English in Pakistan, Danyal said it would worry him five or six years back but these days the digital space was very vast and advanced with a multiple platforms, so the issue didn’t really matter.

“We have passed out of the age of cassettes and CDs. Now everything is available digitally. So anyone from any part of the world can listen to their interest irrespective of which country it was made in. The platform is global. My music can attract an English-speaking listener anywhere from the world.”

Expressing the benefits of digital space for the music, Danyal added that earlier only commercially successful musicians could carry music as their career but now anyone can put his/her music online and even a niche musician with cult following is as viable as the commercially succeeding musician.

He mentioned Spotify as the good news for budding musicians and in changing the paradigm of music in Pakistan.

Asked in which genre does he put his music in, the Blue Butterfly singer replied that he didn’t want to define any specific category for it just yet but loved to do somewhere between R&B and hip-hop.

Danyal considers his elder brother Ali Zafar as the biggest motivation in his career as by watching him, he started all that.

Right now, he is trying to find his inspirations within himself. “Mostly, it’s the feelings which I go through in life, like a heartbreak and other ups and downs you face. In whatever phase I am, I tap those feelings for my music.”

Asked if he likes acting or music better, Danyal said it was too early to say as he had started acting only recently. He, however, admitted that what he had expressed through music could not be done with acting yet.

“It is about experience. I might get to a point where I can express myself through acting equally well. Right now, I think in music, I have reached a level where I feel exhilarated and satisfied when I make or produce something. I have not felt that kind of contentment when acting – except for a few scenes.”

Spoken like a true artist – and this artistic honesty alone makes Daniyal Zafar a promising addition to our entertainment industry. What is more, although he comes from the privilege of being a brother of international star Ali Zafar, he is adamant he will carve out his own niche. This, combined with work ethic and discipline, bodes well for his future.

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