It was time of 1980s. Music industry was riding on melodious voice of sister duo Lata Mageshkar and Asha Bhosle. Every next song sang by them was becoming people’s favorite overnight. Then comes a 15 year old girl, Nazia who changed the taste of music of people in the Indian subcontinent. Her voice and song become trendsetter of pop music. After that a whole new dimension of pop music opened, which now a days is favorite of every youngster.
Who was Nazia Hassan?
Nazia was born in Karanchi Pakistan on April 3, 1965 and she grew up in London.
Her father was a business man and mother was famous social activist. She started singing in Pakistani television show in very young age. At that time there was a program “Sung Sung Chalain”(Walking together) on Pakistan Television Network (PTV), she used to sang in that program for children under guidance of Sohail Rana.
Nazia started to bloom and began singing not only in her voice, but also from the heart. Since her study was going on in London so she used to record for the show whenever she used to return to Pakistan.
Nazia Hassan and Bollywood
How connection between Nazia and Bollywood happens that is also an interesting story.
During late 70s, Feroz khan who was a famous actor started production of movie Qurbani. He wanted to add a catchy item song in the movie. He is looking for some disco beat. In the late 1970s, Western disco was getting popular in India but there were not yet any home-bred disco stars. People used to listen and enjoy western artist and band. This led Feroz khan to move to London to famous music producer Biddu. Biddu was an Indian born music producer who was working in London and had recorded some of the famous international score. Zeenat Aman was also in one of lead role in Qurbani and she knew Nazia hassan (being family friend). She introduced Nazia to Feroz Khan in a party in London. Khan requested Nazia to have an audition with Biddu. The audition went so well that Biddu signed her up for the song he was composing for Qurbani .
In an interview Nazia’s mother, Muniza Baseer had told that it was unimaginable for the girl who born in Pakistan to become part of Bollywood as her family was never inclined towards all these but it was something that Nazia was destined to be.
She was a born artist and trendsetter for sure but this all began with her impeccable voice in Bollywood song Aap jaisa koi meri jindgi me aaye (“If Someone Like You Comes Into My Life”) in Qurbani which was pictured on Zeenat Aman. It became instant hit and Nazia became favorite of every youth in Indian subcontinent. This song brought pop music into Bollywood and hence India and Nazia become teenage sensation. The song which was recorded in London, was the first Hindi song to be recorded on 24 tracks and it was massive hit in subcontinent.
Undoubtedly one of my favorite iTune track iTune link for Nazia Hassan aap jaisa koi
Aap jaisa koi was unique in many sense at that time. Apart for that this song introduced pop culture in Indian subcontinent, It was the first time when any Pakistani singer sang for Bollywood.
This song was produced by Biddu under music direction of the famous duo Kalyanji Anandji. The time when she sang that song, she was studying in the school only. She has taken half day leave from the school to record the song. After release of movie, the song became so popular, that Nazia won a Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer for this song in 1981. It was a record and she became the youngest recipient of the Filmfare award at the tinder age of 15, which she holds till date. First Pakistani who sang for Bollywood and youngest one who won the Filmfare award and that too for her first song. What an achievement !!
Pop-Albums of Nazia Hassan
After massive popularity of the song “Aap jaisa koi”, Biddu decided to produce a pop album, targeting the audience of Indian subcontinent. He bring together Nazia and her brother Zoheb Hassan for a Hindi-Urdu pop album. This duet was modeled on then famous American brother-sister duo, The Carpenters.
First one that came in the series was “Disco Deewane” in 1981, at that time Nazia was 16-year-old. The teenage sensation won heart of people across subcontinent and other countries with her melodious voice.
In 1981, the album was a massive hit across Asia, South Africa, and some countries in South America , charting in 14 countries. No other record album in south Asian musical industry has ever blasted to top of charts with such a bang as “Disco Deewane” did.
It was also the first South Asian pop album to top the charts in Brazil, while also becoming a hit in countries like Russia, South Africa, and Indonesia, and a success among the South Asian diaspora in regions such as Canada, the United Kingdom, United States, and West Indies. The album became the best-selling Asian pop album up until that time. In India, it sold 100,000 records within a day of its release in Mumbai alone, and achieved Platinum status in three weeks.
Overall “Disco Deewane” went on to sell 14 million units worldwide. It was the first time that any album in Indian and subcontinent has achieved so much success compared to movies song. This opened an entire new dimension of music and which became prevalent with emergence of independent Indian and Pakistani albums in coming days.
Nazia and Zoheb entered like comet in music industry and won heart of people across the world. The craze of Disco Deewane was like that I remember one of my elder cousin and she was having her name printed everywhere in notebook, on books, in her bedroom, on her lunchbox etc..much like
People remember them always who bring change in their life and she was one among those.
Dreamer Deewane the English version of Disco Deewane was released in 1983 as a single and it went on to became instantaneous hit. Nazia Hasan became first Pakistani to make it onto the UK pop chart. Just another feather in the cap of this “Queen of Asian pop”.
In 2012, Karan johar used revamped version of this song for his Bollywood movie Student of the year. It was called “The disco song” and involved Nazia hassan’s vocal along with Sunidhi Chauhan.
In 1982, Biddu produced second music album of brother-sister duo, Nazia and Zoheb and it was names as Star/Boom Boom. Star was a Bollywood movie for which music was produced by Biddu only. Biddu even offered Nazia and Zoheb, lead role in the movie but both went on with singing only. The soundtracks of album Boom Boom was also used in Star album. All the songs of movie album Star was sang by Nazia and Zoheb only. The album was produced before the film’s Hindi screenplay had been written. So later album was released as Star/BoomBoom. It was re-released as Boom Boom in 1984.
This album was also well received by music lovers and specially the sound track “Boom Boom” was massive hit. Nazia even won Filmfare nomination for her song Boom Boom as best female play back singer in 1983.
Listen on iTune the evergreen track Boom Boom
This album was first released in 1983 in Pakistan then in 1984 it was released worldwide.
By this time brother-sister duo popularity was at the peak and their third album was very well received by their fans. It was the first album which was released in video format. This album sold record 40 million copies which was a record for video album at that time.
At that time, it was not only costly to shoot video album but also it was risky in a sense. Four of the videos were shoot in London and their set was designed by John King, who was also the set designer of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Their experiment went to become highly success and It was awarded Platinum disc for exceeding 150,000 cassette sales in Pakistan alone.
Platinum disc is a music recording certification based on number of shipment and copies sold. The songs like Dum Dum Dede, Ankhien Milane Wale and Dosti became favorite of every generation. Specially Dosti song, sang by Nazia and Zoheb is epitome of friendship theme song till date.
Listen the beats of Young Tarang on iTune
Released in 1987, Hotline was the fourth in the series from the Pakistani pop duo of Nazia and Zoheb. It is considered as the most successful album of duo after the all time favorite Disco Deewane.
It was also released in the United Kingdom in 1987. This album also featured the duo’s younger sister, Zahra Hassan.
In 1989, Nazia and Zoheb hosted the groundbreaking all-Pakistan television pop show called Music’89, produced by Shoaib Mansoor. It was a break period from music album.
The group released their last studio album Camera Camera in 1992, which was written and produced solely by Zoheb. It was an Urdu-language studio album. Launched after 5 year of break this album enjoyed only modest success.
Stan Jeffries writes in Encyclopedia of World Pop Music
“Eight years later a third album, Camera Camera, was released; but the record displayed little development beyond the sound that had proved so popular almost a decade earlier, and it enjoyed only modest success.”
In 1992, during one of her visits to Pakistan, she received a letter in her fan mail. It was penned by a parent whose son was a drug addict, and in his drugged out and physically incapacitated state, only reacted to Nazia’s music. In her moment of compassion, Nazia visited the house of the sender of the letter, and was shaken up by the ordeal of the drug addict. This incident inspired her to start an initiative called BAN (battle against narcotics), with which she hoped to launch a nationwide movement against drugs. Her last album was dedicated to this cause and had a song called Nasha Na Karo(‘don’t do drugs’). This was her fifth and last album.
Nazia Hassan Social Life and philanthropy
For both Nazia and Zoheb, music was never a full-time career, which they and their mother had mentioned various time in interviews as well. It was merely a hobby that they were pursuing in their free time. Nazia was a stellar student who graduated with a distinction in Economics and Business Administration from Richmond University, UK, and went on to study law from Lancaster College.
Armed with a law degree, she ended up working for the UN from 1992-94. Nazia was not confined to music only, philanthropy defined a large part of her. She donated all the money that she earned from her singing. She joined her family friend to raise funds for poor children and carried out charity initiatives in India. Nazia also actively worked with UNICEF and for cause of BAN (battle against narcotics).
The effect of her popularity across the length and breadth of the subcontinent was nothing short of magical. India Today magazine had voted Nazia Hassan — a Pakistani — as one of the 50 people who helped change the face of India. The most visible and tangible change in India’s music space was the personal album trend which began taking off with Lucky Ali, Alisha Chinoy, Shewata Shetty and many others.
when she got married, she moved to Dubai in 1995. This marriage was a complete failure and Nazia Hassan got divorced from her husband just before her demise.
During her treatment for lung cancer in London, she gave an interview to Zee Network in which she said, “A lot of the times the doctors kept saying to me that things were very bad, but I am a firm believer in God. I kept on thinking this is not my time to die; all of us have to die one day but I just felt that it is not my time yet.”
Sadly though, much to the shock and sorrow of her countless fans, it was her time to go. Nazia Hassan succumbed prematurely to disease and illness. It was on August 13, 2000, when “The Nightingale of East” left for the heavenly abode, just in her mid-thirties. What a loss !!
In an interview with The Tribune, on asking about last days of Nazia, her brother Zoheb said
She kept the family in the dark about her marriage, and never shared what she had to endure till she was finally divorced days before her death. What worse was that she had deluded them into believing that she would survive. “She left us in no-man’s land.”
“Being a music composer, his sister’s input was invaluable as it was always constructive criticism from a professional partner. “That is not there anymore,” indicating that making music without Nazia is not easy.
“She died an unhappy person and she died in pain,” Zoheb said with shining eyes. “This was a devastating reality for us to know. To see your loved one die in pain is the most frightening experience.”
Google tribute to this sensation on her 53rd birthday
Nazia Hassan Foundation
The Nazia Hassan Foundation was established by Nazia’s family, her parents Basir & Muniza and sister Zahra, in continuation of her life long charitable and social efforts to make the world a better place to live in for all irrespective of color, creed or religion.
On impact of Nazia’s music, The Herald in volume 38 says
“It would not be amiss to say that music was never the same again after “Aap Jaisa Koi…” Over the next several years Nazia and Zoheb continued to rock not just the Pakistani but also the Indian disco scene”
The duo went on to sell as many as 60 million records worldwide.
Yes, it’s been almost 18 years. Nazia, you will be remembered not only for the musical treasures of joy and peace that you have left for us, but also because you showed us how to make world a beautiful with contribution at individual level.