Ali Azmat Explains Going Solo

Ali Azmat was all set to act in Mahesh Bhatt’s Rog last year, but the Indian government denied him a visa. When asked why, Azmat calmly shrugs and says with a devious smile, ‘‘I don’t know why—there’s no because.’’ Maybe that’s why he doesn’t care much about acting these days. Currently in the city to promote his first solo album, Social Circus, the shiny-headed, irreverent and utterly candid former lead singer of Junoon says he actually quit acting seven years ago. ‘‘I’m not going to wait around for five hours for the female lead to show up.’’

Azmat says he’ll never move to Mumbai, even though his professional prospects might seem better here. Although he comes here once a month—for promotions, TV appearances and concerts—he loves his motherland Pakistan and would never want to live anywhere else. ‘‘It’s heaven,’’ he says. Not even a short stint on the vogue streets of New York City five years ago could permanently lure him away.

But don’t assume that Pakistan’s most famous rocker is content with the quiet comfortable life. Azmat believes angst breeds creativity, even love is an avoidable emotion. ‘‘When I was in a relationship, I couldn’t write a song because I was so happy,’’ he rationalizes, dressed in a skull-and-roses T-shirt.

Strangely, Azmat is waiting for the failure of his first solo effort. ‘‘It’s a musician’s album,’’ he explains why it won’t be received like anything Junoon ever produced. It isn’t meant to please the masses. ‘‘Nor does it have the media’s arm backing it, like it would for an album from Junoon.’’ There is also a legion of fans that might have preferred to keep the ‘‘U2 of Asia’’ in tact.

But Azmat has no qualms about leaving Junoon or its legacy behind. ‘‘At this point in time, I would like to think that part of my life is over.’’

Now the only task is putting out another album after Social Circus and retaining the ‘‘electric pulse’’ of creating music that Azmat says drives him in every aspect of his life. How does he plan to do that? ‘‘I just need to find another girlfriend and break up with her.’’

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