This is the story of a 15-year old Pakistani girl, who became the darling of India. Born on April 3, 1965, Nazia Hassan was raised between Karachi and London. She’s sadly not with us anymore, as she passed away on August 13, 2000, after battling lung cancer, at a young age of 35.
During her music career, Nazia Hassan was honoured with several national and international awards. She was the first Pakistani artist, then 15 years old, to win India’s prestigious Filmfare award for the Indian film Qurbani. Her song in the film, “App Jaisa Koi” was the turning point of her music career.
In addition to this, she was also honoured with Pakistan’s highest civilian award, Pride of Performance. Apart from that, Nazia Hassan also served the public through her philanthropic activities. She became a cultural ambassador in 1991 at UNICEF.
She teamed up with her brother, Zoheb Hassan, and released the album “Disco Deewane” (1981), composed by Biddu. “Disco Deewane” not only became a massive hit, but it was also adored by people on both sides of the border in Pakistan and India. It sold 60 million copies, and as per various media reports, the album had sold out on its release in India.
Her English language single “Dreamer Deewane” made her the first Pakistani singer to make it to the British musical charts.
Nazia and Zoheb Hassan’s songs also resonated in Indian film Star, which featured songs from their album “Boom Boom“.
What many people are not aware is that Nazia Hassan’s “Disco Deewane” was a huge hit in Arab World and had an Arabic version produced by 4M Band.
The 4M Band was an Egyptian family group founded in Cairo in 1979. It was led by Ezzat Abu Ouf and his four sisters, Maha, Mona, Mervat and Manal, hence the 4M Band name. Here’s the “Disco Deewane” version in Arabic that not many in India or Pakistan are aware of.
Pakistan’s vibrant contemporary pop music scene owes itself to Nazia Hassan’s redefinition of pop. Also, the biggest 1990s bands, including the Vital Signs and the Jupiters, got a platform on “Music ’89, a studio audience music program that created waves across Pakistan. “Music 89” was broadcast on Pakistan’s National Television PTV, and featured both Nazia and Zoheb.
Her last album, “Camera Camera” (1992), was part of a campaign against drugs.
“She wanted to use her talents to help others. Music was a hobby for her. The most important part of her music was that it helped to bring India and Pakistan closer together through music and art”, said Muniza Basir, Nazia’s mother, in a conversation with Telegraph India.
Recalling the “Disco Deewane” fever, Ms. Basir recalled their trip to Calcutta India, “Between 50,000 and 100,000 people turned up at the airport. Kajol’s mother, Tanuja, was with us. The affection with which Nazia was received will be with us all our lives.”
And so has Nazia left fond memories for her fans across the globe. May she rest in eternal peace, and her legacy, melodies of love keep transcending international borders, minds and hearts.