Don’t care about the keyboard warriors, I was there before them: Ali Safina

It's the early 2000s. Avril Lavigne's Under My Skin is all the rage and My Happy Ending is blasting on the radio. Social media is limited to Orkut testimonials and Twitter's yet to be launched, and of course, there's no concept of Spotify. Our basic source of entertainment largely comprises popular radio shows. FM 89, FM 91, FM 107's late-night shows are the highway to heaven and their jockeys, our rides for the night. Around this turning point of technology and creative business in Pakistan, Ali Safina began his career as a Radio Jockey. And while his voice was a balm on our broken promises, Safina was one of the few people who not only made a successful transition to TV but also a remarkable one. Today, almost two decades later, Safina is all the rage as the sweetest Miskeen from a recently concluded sitcom.         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Ali Safina (@alisafina) Looking back at the time, Safina believed an ample responsibility fell on his shoulders to nurture youth at that time. "There was a lot of work. We used to do requests shows back then," the Qarar star shared with The Express Tribune. "This was the early 2000s and radio was all the hype. There was no Instagram, there was not much Facebook, the music channels had just started. So, mostly everyone almost tuned into radio shows. We had a chance to nourish a whole generation." Safina divulged how the RJs were taught proper lingo for the medium. "Radio culture was the whole culture. We were representatives and there were people before us as well. We worked for more than a decade until television took over. There were several music channels – Aag, Play TV, The Musik, Indus Music and so on. After the rise of music channels, radio gradually declined. When we transitioned to televisions and shows, we were taught how to conduct such shows. I was 24 when I began my acting career. The transition from RJs to VJs was different. Nowadays, our hosts are what VJs used to do – hosting and anchoring came later."         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Ali Safina (@alisafina) Safina received his first break with Bushra Ansari-starrer Dolly ki Ayegi Baraat. The former starred as Takkay and was lauded for his performance. What Safina didn't anticipate was how this one show would take off his acting career. "My producer for Dolly Ki Ayegi Baraat, Sajjad Gul, shared that his next installment, Takkay Ki Ayegi Baraat would focus on me. My acting career had ticked off." To Safina, acting was always a bigger artform which propelled him to focus on excelling in his craft. "When I was working as a VJ, my work was always animated. I was always playing different characters. Dolly Ki Ayegi Baraat had blown everyone's minds. Sajjad was adamant I was his lucky charm," he shared. Having said that, started his acting career in the comedy genre saved Safina from being typecast. "I ended up making my own brand. I have already worked so much – I didn't limit myself to just one niche. There was Janam, there was Kahein. My name was everywhere," he recalled.         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Ali Safina (@alisafina) Speaking of an incident that had stayed with him, Safina shared when in 2016, he was visiting Multan, a fan recognised him as a peer from one of the roles he had essayed back then. Safina had starred as a spiritual leader in one of his drama serials. His more recent dramas such as Suno Chanda, Qarar and Chupke Chupke became the talk of the talk with Safina's portrayal as Joji, Salman and Miskeen respectively, the actor's range was praised by fans and critics alike. Speaking of criticism, there's not much he would give thought to. Safina, as he shared, simply "doesn't care." Talking about the flak his character Miskeen had received for being a ghar-damaad, the actor chuckled, "I didn't understand the criticism Miskeen's character recieved. Do we now have issues with good men? Men who are good to their wives, men who are empathic? We aren't used to seeing such male characters on screen. Hence, I don't care for such comments. They don't matter to me."         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Ali Safina (@alisafina) Apart from his recent ventures, Safina has a few more projects in the pipeline. He is now working on two more drama serials as he had already wrapped up his upcoming film Money Back Guarantee. The Faisal Qureshi directorial, which also stars Fawad Khan, Ayesha Omar, Kiran Malik, Hina Dilpazeer, Javed Sheikh and others, is all set for release. "I play the role of an Army officer – but he's not the quintessential role you would often see on your screens," the actor spoke of his character in the film, adding, "We were ecstatic when the news of cinemas reopening was making rounds. The film is done, we are just waiting for the right time to release it. If theatres do not reopen soon and a concrete decision isn't made, I think the makers would look at other options. An OTT release doesn't seem too far-fetched." But Safina is also someone who happens to be a staunch believer of 'all that glitters isn't gold.' Speaking of the prevalent trolling of artists on social media, the actor shared, "It may seem like our lifestyle is very different – but our issues are just as common as any other person."         View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Ali Safina (@alisafina) He further added, "It's not easy to be an actor. It's easy to say anything to anyone behind a glaring screen. We have developed a thick skin, that's the only way we can survive now. I really don't care about social media; I have been working before that keyboard warrior was even born." Safina added how the audience must realise how much an actor strives to do well for the audience. "We actually go to jails to shoot; we go to dingy places and shoot for the dramas – for the audience. That's the effort we put in. Not just actors, a lot of crews also go through a lot of work to add in all the details. I feel it's imperative our fans know this. Would you think doing action scenes without an actual stunt director is a walk in the park? It's not. It's very difficult." Have something to add to the story? Share it in the comments below.

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