October 13th, 2012

Nahid Niazi (Naheed Niazi) Interview

Nahid Niazi in 2011

Nahid Niazi in 2011

Ummer – Your husband Moslehuddin used Indian playback singers to sing for two Pakistani films – Hemant Kumar in Humsafar (1960) and Asha Bhosle in Yahudi Ki Ladki (1963). Do you have any idea where these songs were recorded? I have read somewhere that Humsafar song was recorded when Hemant Kumar visited East Pakistan. Is that true? What about Yahudi Ki Ladki song. Did Moslehuddin visit India to record that song?

Nahid Niazi – My husband Mr. Moslehuddin went over to Calcutta to record Hemant Kumar in 1960. Where you hear Hemant say ‘ yeh saman’ and ‘nain mila’, he pronounces it differently as compared to how Mosleh sang in his version recorded much later, in the UK. That was because Hemant was unable to say pronounce it correctly, and he asked Mosleh to modify it. My husband often used to remark on the honesty of the great singer. Generally many singers insist on improvising themselves when they are unable to perform, saying ‘ oh the way I will sing it… will sound much better!’. They will never admit they cannot sing it. I have seen this happen myself many a time while singing duets with such singers.

You will be surprised to know about the Asha Bhonsle number. This was not recorded nor composed by Mosleh. The producer had finished the film. He and Mosleh had a terse exchange of words because he wanted an extra dance number for free. Mosleh refused, so he went to India and bought this song from some film producer on the cheap, and quietly added it. Many films were made then where some songs were never used, which were later sold off to others. We do not know who the Indian composer was, because this producer never admitted that this was an Indian song. Everyone, later assumed it was Mosleh who composed the song. Mosleh thought it was beneath him to confront the producer.

Ummer – I really like this classical song from Seema (1963). Was it rendered by you or your sister?

Nahid Niazi – This classical song has been rendered by me. I was not very confident when I sang this song because it required intricate classical moves. Master Inayat Hussain [my thanks to him] was of the firm opinion that I could sing this song. Consequently, he spent the better part of that day training me and very patiently taught me step by step to the point where I could sing the classical move perfectly. After he accomplished this, Master Inayat requested my father to let me be his disciple. That was not possible at that time because not only I was busy singing, but also studying full time at the College for Home Economics, in Gulberg, Lahore.

Ummer – Here is another song from East Pakistani film Bhaiyya (1966, Music director – Robin Ghosh) which I really like. Who sang this song? You or your sister Najma?

Nahid Niazi – This song was sung by my dear sister Najma.

Ummer – Who sang the film versions of the songs including “Ek Baat Sunaati houn” for Miss 56. Some sources attribute the film versions of these songs erroneously to you. However, as far as I know, you didn’t even start your career at that time. Also, if the record versions of these songs were sung by Geeta Dutt, did she visit Pakistan? OR music director G.A. Chisthi visit India?

Nahid Niazi – Ik Baat Sunaati Hoon is not sung by me, but Geeta Dutt.  I wonder why such a mistake is made?

Ummer – I think you misunderstood me. The link which I sent you for Ik Baat sunati hoon is of course sung by Geeta Dutt. My question was if you sang a similar song? What happened was that Geeta Dutt recorded 3-4 songs for Pakistani film Miss 56 including Ik Baat Sunati Hoon. However she sang for 78 rpm ‘record’ versions. In the film itself [ film versions ], the songs were replaced by Pakistani female singers. The print of the film doesn’t exist, therefore we don’t have access to those songs anymore. According to the rumors, the Pakistani versions of those songs were sung by you. However, I don’t think that is true and you confirmed it. I think the Pakistani versions were either sung by Munawwar Sultana and Zubaida Khanum.

Nahid Niazi – When I started my career and sang for Baba Chishti, which was after Miss 56 might have been released, (most probably in1956?), the film Miss 56 was never ever mentioned, not even in the gossip corridors of our film industry.  Nor was the fact that Baba Chishti had ever recorded this song by Geeta Dutt, or that he had been to India to record it.  It should have been big news  and could not go amiss.

I know nothing of, and have heard nothing of the Pakistani film Miss ’56, so I cannot comment on that at all.  However, as inside information, there have been some songs to my knowledge, that were bought by Pakistani producers, from India.  These were songs from films that were not completed, or the songs were never used in the films they were recorded for.  The music director would only come to know, not as a very pleasant surprise, that he had a recording by an Indian singer credited to himself, after his film was released.

Ummer – Was ‘Mil Gaya dil ko qarar’ from Ayaz (1960) your first recorded song?

Nahid Niazi – Yes, Mil Gaya Dil Ko Qarar was my first song.  There is a story to it, which is too twisted to tell in a few sentences.  Suffice to say that I reached Lahore on 7th of Jan – 1957, and the song was recorded on 11th Jan – 1957.

On the 10th of Jan (later, I was to get married on the same date), I met Khurshid Anwar Sahib for the first time ever, in his office.  Accompanied by a sarangi player (unlike all other music directors, he did not play the harmonium), Khurshid Anwar Sahib sang  the song to me once and I repeated it once, and he said to my uncle – “that is it, no need for any further rehearsal, the song is ready to be recorded, and now I have to leave to get the orchestra ready for tomorrow”.

In those days when we sang with REAL LIVE ORCHESTRAS, the music directors would get the orchestra ready, to rehearse with the singer[s] at the HMV (later EMI) Studios, prior to the day of the recording. I had never recorded a song before, so I was unaware of this practice.  However, Khurshid Anwar Sahib took the fastest and the most amazing shortcut possible!  Unknown to me, there was absolute secrecy as to what was going to happen at Shahnoor Studios the next day.  I was a complete stranger for the orchestra and the recordist too. This rehearsal took place at Shahnoor Studios the next morning and not at HMV, and we recorded the song straight away.

You see, I did not realize it then, but I had been hijacked from Director Anwer Kamal Pasha and Music Director Rashid Attre. And, thus, the song, my very first, was recorded at Shahnoor Studios the very next day.

Incidentally, I was named just ‘Nahid’ by producer/director Anwer Kamal Pasha.  I was not to be known as Nahid Niazi.  This too came about because of Khurshid Anwar Sahib!  He has been responsible for a lot of my history as a singer.

Here is the link to my second song – a duet with Munir Hussain (which was actually scheduled to be my first song), recorded for Rashid Attre for Anwar Kamal Pasha’s film Baap Ka Gunah.  It was also Munir Hussain’s first song.  We were to be introduced together as new singers by Rashid Attre, however, I ended up singing for Khurshid Anwar first (read the story above).

Other tidbits shared by Nahid Niazi

About Indian Playback Singer Mukesh - Just before he died, he was to arrive in London for an interview with me, for a series of interviews of music stars from India and their counterparts from Pakistan.  The programs were being recorded by Jaya Bhaduri’s uncle Mr Bhaduri, for the Indian BBC Overseas Service, in August 1976.  My husband, Moslehuddin, had just finished recording his program with the great Hemant Kumar.  Mukesh was running late due to his performances in the USA.  Mukesh called Mr Bhaduri, who informed my husband of his conversation with him, that Mukesh had sent his apologies to be passed on to me for being late.  Mosleh returned from London and relayed the message to me.  I was SO looking forward to this program.  I think, it was the day after, that we heard he had died of a heart attack.  I cried my eyes out for days.  You know what?  They don’t come back…

About Iranian Actress Shahpara – I sang the following song for Shahpara in Jaan Pehchan (1967 – Iran Pakistan Co-production). Initially, she insisted that she could sing. However, her singing abilities were limited and I had to sing it for her. To copy her Iranian accent in the song, I asked her to sing this song for me first and then I sang the song in her accent.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yaWncKOHYnc

About playback singer Najma Niazi – Najma Niazi is my younger sister. She sang with me the famous Khwaja Khurshid Anwar’s number – Rim jhim rim jhim pare phuaar from Koel. She stopped singing for films when she joined PTV as a full-time producer.

It may be hard to believe that Najma and me erroneously attribute many songs to each other. Later, after some debate we end up recalling those numbers.

Please note this song was sung by Najma, not me.

Interviews