Yasir Akhtar - Homecoming of the ‘90s Entertainment All-Rounder

  • 13 Jan - 19 Jan, 2018
  • Rabia Mushtaq
  • Interview

Anyone who has lived through the 90s in Pakistan would know what it was to sit in front of the television and wait for their favourite programmes. One programme that proved to be a hit among the younger generation was Music Channel Charts popularly known as MCC, for it changed the face of pop music in the country and introduced legendary musicians. Even though it was the talent that became the shows USP, but the guy who passionately worked on it will always be appreciated for introducing young Pakistanis to original music. The man is none other than Yasir Akhtar, who has ruled the hearts of millions of Pakistanis, especially during the 90s, with his charismatic smile and soothing voice. His homecoming after eight long years is quite evident, as he has returned to Pakistan with an ambition to provide new talent yet again with a chance to make it big in entertainment. MAG sat down with the multitalented entertainer to find out what he’s up to following his return to Pakistan.

“I’m here for my fans and of course my family, as well as Pakistanis scattered across the country. I am also here to soon start working on two of my projects. One of which is Talent Hunt that will begin from either February or March, wherein I will travel nationwide and hold auditions for singers, actors and models for my upcoming projects and music videos. On the other hand, a project called Films On Television will soon begin, as I have already shot the first of its film Mujhko Pata Hai in London, then we’ll take it to New York and finally shoot it in Pakistan. This project’s canvas is going to be large,” says the versatile man who has tried his hands at not just producing musicians, but has also dabbled in acting, singing and direction, as well as performed for his fans on stage worldwide. “I have also collaborated with the band Azal and Sher Abbas for recording a new song in Karachi recently and plan to release it by the end of January. After having shot videos in different countries, I wanted to shoot something in Pakistan because I hadn’t done anything here for a long time. I wanted to show that I can still roam around the streets of the country, especially Karachi, without having to worry about anything,” says an excited Yasir.

With a portfolio comprising of several projects where he acted, sung, directed and produced, including drama serials French Toast, Sard Aag, Khawab Suhaney, Yeh Jahan and Jayen Kahan Arman to name a few, as well as songs like Pyar Diyan Gallan, Sohniye, Zara Mann Ko Dekh, O My Love and many more, Yasir has never stopped working even after shifting to the UK, where he permanently lives with his wife and two children – son Zaryab and daughter Alizeh. He continues to create magic under the banner of his production company Pegasus Productions and collaborates with international artistes, too. After all these years, how different does he find Pakistan? “Everything is in abundance. Now they’re too many options here. Even though quality of work is good but focus lacks. The problem is that the good quality work is being ignored because people cannot focus, if they are watching a good film or TV serial they soon tend to get caught up with certain domestic issues and eventually lose interest. On the other hand, social media has also affected the attention span,” he feels.

On a question regarding the current music scene of Pakistan, Yasir responds commenting about the lack of original music. “All we get to hear are old songs being rehashed and sung. New melodies lack. Like in MCC we would introduce new people, new melodies, new songs, there was original content. Artistes would come up with original songs and music. Even though we have immense talent but the only problem is that music has been turned into a business, which shouldn’t be the case. A lot of channels took music very easy and played whatever they liked compromising on the quality,” laments the pop star.

Yasir first acted as a child artiste in the film Beyond the Last Mountain. Before becoming an actor and lead singer of the much popular music band Arid Zone, Yasir was just another child with dreams as high as the sky. How was he as a kid, I ask? “I was very quiet but participated in all the school functions and played cricket a lot. It was in eighth or ninth grade when I formed a music band with a few friends, and after joining the College of Commerce and Economics in Karachi, we full fledgedly recorded songs and performed at concerts,” Yasir says about his heydays in the world of entertainment and further speaks about an unpleasant memory which changed the course of his life during his teens. “The most tragic memory in my life is of my father’s death in 1986 due to brain tumour. It entirely changed our lives. We were always treated like VIPs by him but after he was gone everything changed. Later, both me and my sister started working in the media and people would say bacchey bigar gaye hain.”

Yasir was a heartthrob and had many fans following his stint as a performer at concerts, which is also a reason why he along with many other music bands flourished in the 90s. Despite being talented in so many realms, what does he excel at? “I am my best as a performer on stage. Earlier too, I was probably the most energetic performer and that’s what people also say and compare me to Elvis Presley. So I feel the best when I’m performing,” he makes it known sporting a passionate demeanour.

Yasir is proud of a music video he shot in London, which is the most challenging project that he has done till date. He tells me everything about it. “It was my last music video Aram Nal Kar, for when I take a project everything is important to me whether on a big or small scale. It was difficult to shoot in London because of permission regarding landmarks, while the song’s concept of merging Bulleh Shah’s kalaam with rap music was quite a challenge, as well as deciding the rapper. I really worked hard for it even though it was just a song,” Yasir divulges about the efforts it took for the song to make it big amongst the audience.

What keeps him going in the otherwise risky entertainment business? “The appreciation I get from my fans, the love from my family, especially my mother keeps me going, as she always encourages me to excel in my endeavours,” he proudly states.

Yasir seems excited on his recent visit to the country, as he aims to stay here for a few more months and has a message for all his loyal fans: “They should expect the same Yasir every time. I try to do whatever I can in the best possible way using my talent. My fans will be able to see my talent in all the upcoming projects. My commitment with them and myself will always remain the same, for whatever I can do I will do the best.”