Nazia Hasan revolutionised how we South Asians disco: Zeenat Aman | The Express Tribune
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Bollywood icon Zeenat Aman recently marked the 44th anniversary of the film Qurbani with a heartfelt post on Instagram, where she posted the music video of Aap Jaisa Koi from the 1980 blockbuster, and reminisced about a chance meeting that intertwined her destiny with that of the late Pakistani pop sensation Nazia Hassan.

Aman recounted the serendipitous encounter with Nazia and her brother Zoheb Hassan in a poignant narrative that underscored how this meeting profoundly influenced their careers. The story began on a fatigued evening in London. Aman, having just completed a demanding day of shooting, encountered a polite yet persistent Pakistani family in the lobby of her hotel. Despite her exhaustion and yearning for a peaceful night, she courteously chose to engage with them.

“There was a family of three waiting for me in the lobby of my London hotel, but I was not keen to make small talk with fans. I had just wrapped a day of shoot, and all I wanted was silence, a hot shower and my bed,” Aman recalled. “Yet my convent school education would not allow me to be rude. So, I smiled sweetly and took a seat with my thoughts wandering to the luxurious suite that awaited me just a few floors above,” she added.

“The lady was elegant. Her name was Muniza. And with her were her two teenage children. A quiet girl named Nazia and a boy named Zoheb. I hadn’t planned to entertain them for long but soon found myself drawn into deep dialogue with Muniza. They were a charming and cultured family of Pakistani origin, and to my surprise I found myself inviting them to join me in my suite. That night I learnt that Nazia and Zoheb were pursuing music, and I even enjoyed a brief demo of young Nazia’s pipes,” revealed the acting legend.

Aman’s connection with Nazia deepened when she introduced the young singer’s talent to the esteemed actor-director Feroz Khan during the production of Qurbani. “Muniza and I remained in touch, and I subsequently introduced her to Feroz Khan with whom I was starting work on an ambitious project. You can picture the rest…” wrote Aman. 

Khan, immediately captivated by Nazia’s voice, enlisted her to record the iconic song Aap Jaisa Koi, produced under the expert guidance of music maestro Biddu. This song soared to monumental success, defining an era of disco music across South Asia. 

Reflecting on Qurbani’s legacy and Nazia’s pivotal role in it, Aman expressed her profound admiration for the young prodigy, acknowledging the lasting impact of her brief yet significant career on the music scene. “Yesterday marked 44 years of Qurbani. A film that captivated the South Asian audience, and whose music still plays on dance floors. Qurbani had a star-studded cast – Vinod, Feroz, Amjad, Amrish and myself – but to me, there is only one breakthrough performance in the film, and that’s Nazia’s,” she remarked, highlighting Nazia’s cultural influence on both Indian and Pakistani music. “It may be my face and figure that comes to mind when the familiar tune of Aap Jaisa Koi begins to play, but the song belongs entirely to that young Pakistani girl who revolutionised how we South Asians disco.”

The actor concluded her post remembering how she often played the overprotective sister role in Nazia’s life, “I always felt protective of Nazia, and during film events and promotions I kept a close eye on her, much to the chagrin of her admirers and the delight of her mother.”

Nazia’s untimely demise in 2000 left a void in the hearts of her fans and admirers, including Aman, who fondly remembered her as someone who “died too young” and a “true shooting star who blazed hot, bright and fast.” Despite her short time in the limelight, Nazia’s legacy endures through her timeless music, continuing to resonate with audiences who dance to the beats of Aap Jaisa Koi, Boom Boom, Disco Deewane, and many other hits.

Nazia Hassan’s influence continues to resonate in the global pop industry. Recently, American pop star Sabrina Carpenter’s new track, Please Please Please, has garnered attention from keen-eared Pakistani listeners who notice a striking similarity to the beloved 1980s classic Disco Deewane.

The discussion began when influencer-model Anzela Abbasi shared an Instagram reel with a brief side-by-side comparison of the two songs. “She’s in her Nazia Hassan era,” Anzela captioned the post. Anzela, who was recently named among Miss Universe Pakistan’s top 10 finalists for 2024, sparked a lively debate in the comments, earning over 20,000 likes. Although Carpenter’s song appears to echo Nazia’s hit, it’s unclear whether this resemblance is coincidental or if the Espresso singer intended it as a homage to the legendary pop icon.

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