DINO ALI - Keeping His Scene On

  • 07 Oct - 13 Oct, 2017
  • Rabia Mushtaq
  • Interview

What is it that he isn’t doing?’ Was the first thing I wanted to know, when we met for a chit-chat on a warm September evening. “I’m not sleeping and travelling much!” quipped Dino, the guy who ruled the realm of VJ-ing in Pakistan and is still loved for his quirky demeanour both, on and off-screen. The multitasking lad has done so much throughout his career that it leaves one wondering how he manages to do all that he does at the same time. The bloke reveals everything in this candid interview with MAG.

“When I started my career initially, I was doing radio and TV simultaneously, as well as other things. So I have been like this (a multitasker) ever since. Initially, there was a lot of problem with time management but then I got used to it and planned my life accordingly. Now even people I work with realise my multitasking abilities and corporate with me accordingly. But the fun thing about multitasking is that not every day is the same, it’s all about time management,” he tells me.

After spending five years in England as a radio jockey (RJ) at BBC Urdu, Dino currently hosts a TV show Ek Dum Live and is also an RJ for a radio show called Dost Kya Scene Hai on FM91. He will soon be seen trying his luck on the big screen with an upcoming flick Rangreza and another which is still under wraps, and has already played a role in drama serial Chinaar Ghati, which marks his entry into acting, which according to him is the most difficult job in the world. “Acting is a very tough job. Hosting is makkhan in comparison, in fact, everything else is easy. I salute actors who work every day because they deserve to be lauded,” he says, further talking about the appreciation actors deserve, “I have just done one drama and one film and learnt a lot from both my projects. It internally broke me down for it’s not an easy job. Even though I haven’t given up but I realise that it is indeed a tough profession.”

Despite coming from a family that has been in the industry since pre-partition with established actors like Noor Mohammed Charlie (grandfather), Latif Charlie (father) and Masooma Shah (mother), Dino doesn’t have an air of attitude around him. He is one humble guy who doesn’t boast about his achievements. But did he enter the entertainment industry following his family’s footsteps? I ask.

“To be honest, I never really thought about getting into showbiz. Our parents never pressurised us into this profession. My goal was to do music, yet I accidentally became a host. I believe it all depends on what God wills; you plan something and end up doing something else,” Dino shares.

Nevertheless, I was curious to know about the accident that made him what he is today. “Around 2001-2002, as a 16 or 17-year-old boy, I recorded my own song on a TDK audio cassette at home, along with my friend. Considering it good, I took my recording to a popular music channel and shared my song with them,” he recalls the days he kick-started his career on TV, adding, “They really liked my song called Pari, which later got released, but they asked me to audition for a TV show because according to them, I was good at conversing. I agreed and gave the audition, and after a week or two I was hired as a host, and I later became a VJ,” says Dino, whose actual name is Mohammed Ali Charlie, but is popularly known by his family nickname.

But none of it came easy for him for he had his fair share of struggles before entering the world of entertainment in Pakistan. His advice to those wanting to make it big in the industry is “agar khwari bardasht kar saktey ho tou ajao,” he reiterates his own thoughts suggesting that making a name in the industry is not an easy feat. “If you have the patience to listen to the word ‘No’ then you will get what you want; and if you can bear a hundred ‘No’s’ and wait for that one ‘Yes’, you will eventually make it.”

It isn’t just an advice that Dino gives to aspiring artistes; in fact, he shares how he has broken his neck to have his work acknowledged in the industry. “Despite my father being a big name in the industry, I wanted to make my own name and have faced rejection several times in life. Before going to Indus Music, I went to Combine Production for PTV,” he reminisces his struggling days, “I would sit outside their reception with the guard for six months on and off. And one fine day, Nadeem Kazmi, one of the directors at Combine, noticed me and inquired who I was. I told him that I want to work. He gave me a chance on the Music Channel Charts (MCC), a popular music programme back in the days,” Dino makes it known, accrediting his patience for all the time he spent waiting for the right opportunity. “If you want to do something in life, you have to keep pursuing it without giving up. If you have the strength and belief in God then you will make it and if you give up because of one rejection than you’ll never be able to do anything,” says the guy who has made his mark as a VJ, RJ, host, actor and musician.

Born on June 26, the 36-year-old introduced the younger generation to the catchphrase ‘scene on hai’ and one is inquisitive to know how he came up with it. “Before starting to work with FM96, I went to Lahore and visited National College of Arts (NCA), where people would use terms like scene on hai, kya scene hai, dost scene on hai; and NCA is a place where they have their own lingo. After I heard these catchphrases there, I came back and started sharing them on radio and it started trending. So the credit goes to the people of NCA,” Dino discloses his encounter with the popular catchline.

Be it on TV or in person, Dino is an extremely laid-back human being. Keeping that in mind, I ask him if he has ever lost on opportunities following his outlook, considering the industry he works for often appears pretentious. “I have never worked thinking who is noticing it, how many people like it, or if being with certain people will get me more work. I neither go to the ‘right’ parties nor meet the ‘right’ people and hang out with them, and also needlessly appreciate them, just to get work,” he states, and adds, “It is not just Pakistan where pretentiousness exists, it happens all over the world. The only way to keep your career going is to be good to your work, focus and be sincere with what you do. Our industry is pretentious and cut throat but if you are hardworking then you will make it to the top,” he says, lamenting about the presence of vanity in the entertainment industry.

He appears to be the most friendly and social person out there, however, Dino was more of a shy kid in his early years. “I was a very quiet and shy kid, and still am like that. My mother would find me around the house, and I’d be lying in a corner reading a book,” he discloses about the little-known side of his personality. “Even though I am good at giving company and having fun but at home I’m very chup chap. I’m a mix of both introvert and extrovert, and although I like hanging out and meeting people, but prefer staying at home around my family. I have a very small group of friends and prefer hanging out with them.”

It isn’t possible for a person who has spent so many years in the industry to not have grown as an individual. But has he changed a bit? I enquire. “Initially, I was immature and wasn’t serious about things. But after working with BBC for five years, I have realised how work is done and the importance of professionalism. I am very serious now and grateful for all the love I get from my fans,” he divulges, as we wrap up our conversation.