Nazia Hassan: A Tribute to a Singing Sensation

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Bollywood actor Feroz Khan spotted a barely 14-year-old Nazia Hassan at a party in London where he advised her to have an audition with Biddu for a song in his 1980’s super hit Qurbani. Biddu in his autobiography mentions that Feroz played the ‘you’re from Bangalore, I’m from Bangalore card’ and wanted me to record a song for him. He also said he had found a young singer called Nazia Hassan and her brother Zoheb for me in London and they would sing for me. I tested her voice and said it was ok. We recorded a song and I sent it back.” Soon AapJaisa Koi become a sensation. “Feroz called me saying, ‘The song is making waves’.

The original pop diva of Pakistan had taken India by storm with the club anthem ‘AapJaisa Koi’. Nazia’s voice won her a popular award for the Best Singer Female in 1981, one of the youngest to get that honour. Two years later, she received another nomination for the song ‘Boom Boom’ from the film Star starring Kumar Gaurav, but she lost this to another aspiring Pakistani in Bollywood, Salma Agha, who had debuted that year as singer and actor and won the Best Singer Award for Dil KeArmaanAansoon MeinBehgaye from the film Nikah.

Coming back to Nazia, two years later, in 1982 HMV Calcutta called Biddu to make an album with the Hassans as they were confident that it could sell 25000 Albums. Biddu had to then do the title track for the album within Three days.“In three days, I was up early, walking the dog and humming the tune. I called Nazia in and we recorded. The album sold three million copies!” That is how Disco Deewane came to life. HMV wanted to name the album Deewana but Biddu suggested to name it Disco Deewane.

Camera Camera, in 1991 was the last album from the Hassans. Biddu once again wanted Nazia to sing ‘Made in India’ in 1995 but she refused to sing as that might have offended Pakistan. The song was then offered to Alisha Chinai. Nazia worked with the UN and the UNICEF after saying goodbye to the singing career and got herself involved in social work. A traumatic married life and lung cancer cut her life short and she passed away at the age of 35. “She was young, looked good, and everything worked. Then she died of cancer. It was such a tragedy”,remembers Biddu. He went to Golders Green and spoke emotionally at the young girl’sfuneral whose career he had nurtured in London.

Today, everyone from Alia Bhatt to Karan Johar to Nazia’s ex-husband’s family have shown interest in the biopic on the icon’s life;but Hassans have categorically stated that no one has the legal right to do so and any such actions will have to face legal consequences.

It has been two decades that she left this world,but till today, through FM frequency, CD players or the small screen, she touches audiences at some visceral level, ensuring that there will be a small tug at the heartstrings, whenever somebody mentions the name – Nazia!

Sadiq Saleem is a Dubai based entertainment writer. He may be contacted on www.sidsaidso.com

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