Hundreds of Nazia Hassan fans turned up for a tribute concert at the Friends Meeting House to celebrate the memory of the pioneer of pop music in Pakistan, Nazia Hassan.
The night was an emotional rollercoaster, with both laughter and tears. It was a night made more poignant by the presence of the pop legend, Nazia Hassan's family, including her parents and her 14-year-old son, Arez.
The evening started with a couple of warm up songs from a huge Nazia Hassan fan, Sitara Anjum with numbers such as 'Boom Boom'. Aatif Nawaaz, made the waiting crowds roar with laughter, with his stand up comedy.
There were messages from Nazia fans from all over the globe in a documentary that tugged at the heart strings, with a scene showing Nazia's son, cutting his mother's birthday cake and then hugging his grandmother, who has brought him up.
It was a reminder that this great singing icon was not only a pop princess who is loved and missed by millions of fans, but was also a mother, a daughter, a sister and a humanitarian, who worked tirelessly for the underprivileged. Despite being a musical talent, she viewed this as a hobby, donating the proceeds of her music to many charitable causes and she was an accomplished lawyer, working in the United Nations Security Council.
Nazia Hassan was born in 1965 in Karachi to an affluent Pakistani family and lived between London and Karachi. She was discovered at the tender age of 15, and sang for Feroz Khan's film, Qurbani. The song was none other than 'Aap Jaisa Koi'.
It was an instant hit and paved the way for pop music in Pakistan. Nazia Hassan went on to record her debut album Disco Diwane with her brother, Zoheb Hassan and the pop duet became a phenomena, with the album charting in 14 countries and becoming the best selling Asian pop record of that time. The brother and sister team went on to produce another album in the same year, Boom Boom, and in 1985 Yang Tarang, which for the first time featured pop videos in Pakistan and in 1987 came the album Hotline. The pop sensation was a success not only in Pakistan, but also in South Asia.
In the conservative Islamic culture of Zia-ul-Haq's Pakistan in the '80s, Pakistani TV was at first reluctant to air the pop videos on PTV, but slowly, as the youth of the country went wild for the melodic tunes, the pop duo got airtime and recognition and are considered the true pioneers of pop culture in Pakistan, raising the spirits of the country.
In 2003, three years after her death, the Government of Pakistan gave Nazia Hassan the highest civilian award, Pride of Performance. She was the first Pakistani and remains the youngest person ever to win a Filmfare Award at the age of 15, in the category of Best Female Playback Singer. Her achievements are countless.
Nazia Hassan's music is as relevant, uplifting and inspiring today, as it was then, evidenced by the wild enthusiasm of the crowds at the London tribute. So, in entered Club Caramel, whose rendition of the Nazia Hassan numbers, must have been a tall order to follow. Kiran Chaudhry, accompanied by Adnan Sarwar, was singing in front of many die-hard fans of Nazia Hassan.
The crowds warmed up with songs such as 'Disco Dewane'. The beautiful Kiran of Club Caramel, all the way over from Pakistan, joked, she could see people wanting to get up from the seats and dance. Indeed, it was difficult to sit still to the rhythmic beats of one Nazia song after another.
Nazia Hassan's son, Arez, stated that a favourite song of his was 'Ankhain Milanay Walay' and as Kiran sang, the words were prophetically striking, 'muj kow bulana nayhee'. And, indeed, how impossible it is to forget her.
The crowd went wild to the rendition of 'Dum Dum Dee Dee', with the audience singing along to the lyrics. 'Boom Boom' and 'Aap Jaisa Koi' also had the audience entranced.
Kiran ended the night, singing a sad melodic song, 'Mere Mehboob Sun', pouring her heart and soul into the hauntingly captivating tune. The audience was left wanting more, which, given the songs are a couple of decades old, is testimony to the fact that these are timeless melodies, which will touch the hearts and souls of generations to come.
Nazia Hassan sang songs of love, a love which eluded her, in her personal life, as it is no secret that she had a troubled marriage, but it is equally clear, that she was loved and revered deeply by her family and fans.
Her 14-year-old son, Arez, a sensible and well-mannered young man, bravely took to the stage to say a few words about his mother. Asked by the anchor, whether he had any memories of his mother, he stated that he had one of when he was 2 years old and his mother took him to London zoo, thus it is a special place for him. He himself plays the guitar and composed a special tune for his mother. One would love him to carry on the legacy of his mother and sing, but as yet, he has shied away from singing. Arez added, 'People say that musicians are remembered through their music, I don't think so. Musicians are remembered through the fans that love them'. When asked how he was feeling, he summed up what must also have been the sensation of the audience, that 'it was an emotional rollercoaster.'
There was a heartfelt message from Zoheb Hassan, also, who unfortunately was not in the country and as the magical night drew to an end, Nazia Hassan's parents were invited to the stage. They were visibly shaken with emotion and Nazia's mother Muniza Baseer, a beautiful, elegant lady, bearing a striking resemblance to her daughter, spoke eloquently and movingly, reducing many in the audience to tears.
The passing of her daughter is still visibly painful to her now and many times during the night, she closed her eyes with sadness, and her loving grandson, Arez, reassuringly put his arms around his grandmother and they both seemed to gain strength from each other. Indeed, Nazia Hassan's parents have brought him up and he is a proud testimony to their love and devotion to him.
Mrs Muniza Baseer, accompanied by her husband, Nazia's father, spoke of what a beautiful, special person her daughter was and how moved she was for the tribute being paid to Nazia Hassan tonight, and the strength she derives from the love of her fans. She gave recognition to Kiran Chaudhry, stating she had the same zest as her daughter, in the way she sang and Club Caramel certainly gave a proud performance, with Adnan Sarwar playing the guitar and accompanying vocals, just like the brother and sister team, Nazia and Zoheb had been.
The night was indeed a journey, which Arez described as an 'emotional rollercoaster'. There was laughter, joy and nostalgia for her music. For many Pakistanis like myself who were born outside of Pakistan, it was the music we grew up with and the lyrics and beats are etched on our hearts, taking us down memory lane to a more innocent age. There were tears, which the audience failed to hold back, for an icon with an angelic voice and a heart of gold. She was taken from this world after suffering from lung cancer, at the age of 35 on the 13th August 2000, just 10 days after her divorce.
Like Princess Diana, she passed away too soon, in the prime of her life and will thus live on in our memories, as the beautiful person she was, who gave joy to millions of people around the world.
captionKiran Chaudhry and Adnan Sarwar of Club Caramel kept the audience captivated with their covers of classic Nazia Hassan songs such as ‘Disco Dewane’, ‘Boom Boom’ and ‘Aap Jaisa Koi’