Impressionist Shafaat Ali rose to prominence with his viral Facebook videos mimicking politicians Imran Khan, Shahbaz Sharif and Altaf Hussain. He has since been in the public eye, performing at corporate events and was also recently seen lighting up the final day of this year's Karachi Literature Festival with his entertaining stint.
Much to our delight, Ali is all set to make his cinematic debut with a supporting role in Momina Duraid Productions’ collaborative endeavour with the Pakistani Air Force, Parwaaz Hai Junoon starring Hamza Ali Abbasi, Hania Aamir and Asif Raza Mir’s son, Ahad Raza Mir as its star cast.
"I was initially approached to audition for a drama serial; however, the team at HUM found me to be quite fit for the character in the film and that’s when they told me that they had another project in mind for me,” he told Images over a telephonic conversation from the set of his film’s second spell at K2 and the Karakoram Highway.
"I have been offered films previously as well, but I never took them seriously since I never wanted to do a project that fails to leave an impact. Since Parwaaz Hai Junoon is being made in association with the Pakistani Air Force -- who last made a film almost five decades ago -- I knew I had to do this."
"It has to be that 'so-called' instant fame which took me almost 12 years," he said sarcastically when asked whether his viral videos are the reason behind him entering the mainstream entertainment scene. "The internet fever, undoubtedly, has played a vital part. The age of television has ended and it’s the age of the five-inch screen. People need content within 36 seconds, and I guess that’s a realisation check for all of us. I just did that recently and here I am."
While Shafaat says that he’d "rather be known as a stand-up comedian", he does believe he’s an actor because of his gifted impersonating ability.
He says, "Mimicry is the basic ingredient of acting. If you don’t understand the character’s nature and personality, you won’t be able to do justice to it and execute it to perfection. I’m hopeful that the viewers like the film, since I personally have really high hopes."
Despite having Parwaaz Hai Junoon mark his debut on the silver screen, Shafaat argued that he has already had a number of cinematically-treated-telefilms to his credit in the TV shows that featured him, namely the news-channel satire shows, 4 Man Show and Banana News Network (BNN).
Ali, who plays a "cadet, pursuing his dream" in the film, says that his role will leave a lasting impression on the viewers. Ask him about his experience shooting so far, and he is all praises for his co-actors, yet finds it challenging to fit perfectly into his character’s shoes.
"The entire cast and I have developed a great bond and everybody’s been extremely helpful to each other," he revealed. "I’ve never been on a set which involves so much cardio and exercise and since all of us are actually living our characters, even off-screen, there’s been a major transformation for me. I’m really stretching my limits and I would really call it an adventurous project."
Apart from Ali and the lead trio, the film will feature Shamoon Abbasi, Dobara Phir Se’s Shaz Khan, Bari Aapa famed Mustafa Changazi and debutant Sikander Vincent Khan as part of the film’s integral cast. Kubra Khan of Sang-e-Mar Mar and Muqabil will be seen in an extended cameo appearance.
On a parting note, Shafaat disclosed that his future plans mainly revolve around his career as a stand-up comedian. "I want to take my comedy global, that’s what I’m focusing on currently since I’m touring different countries for shows. There hasn’t been an internationally acclaimed and viable comedian from Pakistan in recent times and I wish to break the ice."