Naheed Niazi

Naheed Niazi

Naheed Niazi was one of the popular playback singers of the late 50s and 60s. She was discovered by Khurshid Anwar, who wasn’t happy with the available choices of playback singers (with the exception of Noor Jehan). Khurshid Anwar wanted Noor Jehan to sing Zehr-e-Ishq’s songs. Noor Jehan refused to sing because she was still a singing-star at that time and wanted to play the leading role assigned to Mussarat Nazir. With no other choice, Khurshid Anwar recorded one of the songs Mohe piya milan ko janey dai in the voice of Iqbal Bano, but he was not happy with the results.

Khurshid Anwar then contacted Geeta Dutt because he had very high opinion of Geeta Dutt’s singing abilities (Geeta has sung several beautiful songs for Khurshid Anwar in Nishana and Neelam Pari in India) and she agreed to sing songs of Zehr-e-Ishq. However, some Pakistani film magazines started negative campaign for not using Pakistani playback singers. Khurshid Anwar then considered introducing a new voice. He trained one of the daughters of his friend Sajjad Sarwar Niazi (former director at Radio Pakistan) and thus Nahid Niazi (real name Shaida Niazi) entered the film industry as a playback singer.

It is not a coincidence then that Naheed Niazi’s voice is reminiscent of Geeta Dutt’s singing style. Besides singing some of the most soulful melodies for his mentor Khurshid Anwar including Na koi saiyyan mera (Jhoomar), Mohe piya milan ko janey dai (Zehr-e-Ishq), Raqs mein hai sara jahan (Ayaz), Chahey bolo ya na bolo (Ghoonghat), she formed a successful team with her husband-cum-music director Muslehuddin and sang several hits for him.

Some of the hits delivered by Naheed-Muslehuddin team include Jaag taqdeer ko jaga loun gi (Aadmi), Mera kaha kabhi maan lou (Aadmi), Raat saloni aayi with Ahmed Rushdi (Zamana Kiya Kahey Ga), Samajh na aayey dil ko kahan (Daal Mein Kala), Raat chali hai jhoom kai with Ahmed Rushdhi (Josh) and Ae aasmaan (Yahudi Ki Ladki).

After the creation of Bangladesh, the two went through a traumatic experience in 1971 because Muslehuddin was Bengali. The creation of Bangladesh led to many couples making painful decisions regarding their future together. Rumors regarding Bengali husbands leaving their West-Pakistani wives spread, which included rumors about Naheed’s own marriage, and had her family worried sick.

Moslehuddin and Naheed eventually conquered the division and started a new life in the UK. They made a big impact in their adopted country and rumor has it that Moslehuddin, helped invent the famous South Asian dish ‘Chicken Tikka Masala,’ which has become an essential part of British gastronomy. “It is true,” Naheed confirmed.

Naheed Niazi has lived a life of relative seclusion following the death of her husband, in 2003. Nowadays, Naheed spends a lot of time learning the Bengali language. The need to understand more of what her husband wrote has inspired her to do so.

Besides her good looks, Naheed has a gentle demeanour and charm that oozes a sense of confidence. Through her measured words one can gather that she has adapted well to her life in the United Kingdom, but nevertheless misses Pakistan very much. She visits her son in California off and on and likes to spend most of her time with her grandchildren, both in the US and UK, where her daughter Nermin lives.

Naheed regards Ek Baar Phir Kaho Zara as her all time favorite song, composed by her father and originally sung by Shamshad Begum. Her favourite female singers are Noor Jehan and Lata Mangeshkar. Amongst male voices, those of Mohammed Rafi and Mehdi Hassan as well as Ahmed Rushdi have a special appeal for her – Ummer Siddique