Dubai: A Dubai lookalike of Pakistani pop sensation Atif Aslam said he gets freebies and special treatment wherever he goes, besides the misplaced attention from the celebrity’s starry-eyed fans.
Tayyeb Naseer, 30, is often not charged by Aslam-mad taxi drivers who mistake him for the real singer and was once offered a free helicopter tour of Dubai by a pilot fan who insisted Naseer was Aslam.
Naseer, a Pakistani businessman, added he has even been followed around by Aslam’s own entourage at Lahore airport where the two were present by coincidence in March.
“Aslam was near where I was and I guess he had taken a sharp turn when his entourage saw me and mistook me for him. They stood around with me for a bit, no one said a word,” Naseer said.
“They realised they were with the wrong guy when they saw Aslam again, I think they all had a chat between themselves then. I was introduced to Aslam, who said: ‘You must be enjoying all the attention you get because of me, especially from girls.’ It was great meeting him.”
He added that typically straight-faced customs officials at airports in Pakistan “brighten up” when he strolls through, exchanging pleasantries and smiles. “They don’t ask (if I really am Atif Aslam), I don’t tell.”
On another occasion, Naseer was chased by fans at a Dubai club where he was with his friends. “My friends are big, they look like bouncers. They had happened to be surrounding me when the club was closing and as we made for the door together, a few fans started shouting ‘Atif, Atif!’
“The same people saw me again on a different occasion and after a bit of explaining, I convinced them I wasn’t Aslam.”
But he doesn’t always get an opportunity to clarify the situation, saying fans usually take a quick picture and leave. “It’s over in a flash, you don’t get a chance to explain. They are so polite to you, I don’t want to spoil the moment.
“One time a father pleaded I say a few words to his daughter on her birthday over the phone. He was so excited, telling his daughter ‘I’ve got Atif Aslam here with me, dear; here speak to him, it’s your birthday!’
“He wouldn’t believe me that I wasn’t Atif Aslam, so I said a few words to her to make her day – she was over the moon.”
“To be honest, I like it — you get to feel like a celeb. You understand the pressure they are in, why they always leave through the backdoor.”
He added: “I get used to it, I don’t have a choice — I look like him.”