Thursday, June 30, 2011

Azfar Ali

Azfar Ali is a Karachi-based director and TV artist behind some of the most groundbreaking Pakistani TV productions of recent times. Having had professional training from the US and UK, and a rewarding experience in the local industry, Azfar Ali stands as a unique blend of talent; innovation and provocative satire that is finger-pointed almost universally back at him. His influences run deep into Pakistani TV history through the 90s and first decade of this century.

Mr. Azfar Ali made a debut in 1994 with guidance from Ghazanfar Ali at Combined Productions. Only six months later, he was given his own show as an associate director –Music Channel Charts. Azfar’s first show received a phenomenal reception nationwide as it turned into an exclusive podium for the nation’s music talent to gain TV audience. The show provided first such venue for Pakistani musicians as well as a creative lab for video directors, young producers, actors and associated professionals. The show was pivotal at an age where Pakistani pop music was emerging through its nascent evolutionary stage, and introduced to Pakistan emerging singers and music bands that soon became household names nationwide.

Azfar’s next hit show Video CountDown continued to remain a coveted spot in the weekly TV schedules for its more than 150 episodes. His direction portfolio expanded at a constant pace and he continued to turn his directions into memorable programs –Potluck (the foremost Pakistani cooking show; Director), Jaal (first Pakistani soap opera; Asst. Director), DAIRA (‘telefilm’ based on Mohsin Ahmad’s novel –Mothsmoke; director), Jo Baat Ghar Mei Hai (the first soap opera to be televised on Geo TV; Director) are some of the major landmarks both in his career and Pakistani TV.

Azfar’s most evolved creative work in direction, conceptualization and satire, as he puts it, are ‘more of an effort to connect to his audience, to share a viewpoint, and to force audience to attend to a particular issue at hand’. He has been behind some very provocative expressions of art on the screen pertaining to sociopolitical issues that have remained evasive of society’s discussion boards. His Telefilms ‘DAIRA’ and ‘Baarish Mei Deevar’ were critically acclaimed for highlighting sociopolitical injustices; the launch video of Laal Band during lawyer’s movement for ‘Umeed e Seher’ remains Azfar’s creative feat for enacting the suffocation omnipresent in Pakistan’s urban metropolises.

In 2004, Azfar teamed up with Mani to form a duo that created an unforeseen fan following of their late-night radio show, turning both of them into youth icons at the forefront of a new style of using mass media. Known for stirring controversies, the show hinted a brewing urban culture which was yet to find its ways into mainstream media.

Azfar Ali’s most distinguishing claim to fame is his style of humor which has found its way into TV productions in general. ‘Sub Set Hai’, the first sitcom Azfar directed and acted in, popularized a new style of TV shows that got amply replicated in the industry. ‘Ab Set Hai’ continued the sequel with yet another humorous journey of the same characters. His other direction ‘Mei Aur Tum’ remained well received for its more than 100 episodes.

Azfar Ali has remained Vice President of ARY Music (Formerly The Muzik) from ­­­­2006 to 2007. He is also working with Geo as an executive producer for AAG TV, and is currently the head of AAG Films. He has studied Graphics Design from Barnet College London; and Concept Writing and Idea Development from Miami Advertising College, USA. (

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