I met Syed Shafaat Ali for the first time in 2009 when I was still working as a program producer for a local TV channel. As far as I can recall back then, he had just left this very popular program titled, “The 4 Man Show” and began anchoring another program in the same organization I was employed in.
I remember during one of our casual meetings he asked me “Bhai apko kya lgta hy? Mera agae kya banega?” (Bother, what do you think? What does the future hold for me?).
I replied back saying, “Thora sabar rakh. Buhat agae jaega.” (Patience! You will go a long way).
I said what I said because I had seen him mimic effortlessly and knew that the talent he possessed was rare. Moreover, while directing him it did not take too long for me to understand that there was no need for me to intervene. His screen presence was pleasant and he knew very well how to articulate himself.
The only problem was that like all gifted artists he had self-doubt hence, the above question and therefore, the need for me as a director to provide him with reassurance.
There is no doubt that he has come a long way ever since and even though we have only remained in touch via an “Eid Mubarak” text message off late, his progress over the years has been both a source of joy and pride for me.
However, I just hope he remains hungry and that he does not slip into an unwanted comfort zone owing to the recognition he has received so far.
He is well-educated and among the current lot the only artist who is capable of replacing the versatile, Moeen Akhtar. I am pretty sure a lot of other people would have told him the same thing by now.
So, if he asks me today the same question he had asked me in 2009 I would reply back by saying, “Thora sabr aur. Pao zameen par rakheen, Moeen Akhtar ko replace karega!” (A little more patience; keep your feet grounded and you should replace Moeen Akhtar soon).
As I conclude I hope that’s the next he has in mind and that with his talent he settles for nothing less!
For those of you who still don’t know him, see for yourself what I am talking about.