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Nahid Niazi

Monday, November 7th, 2011

Nahid Niazi

Nahid 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 singZehr-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 Nahid 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 Nahid-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 Nahid’s own marriage, and had her family worried sick.

Moslehuddin and Nahid 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,” Nahid confirmed.

Nahid Niazi has lived a life of relative seclusion following the death of her husband, in 2003. Nowadays, Nahid 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, Nahid 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.

Nahid 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

An article about Nahid Niazi by another author

Naheed Niazi: Music to your heart
By Anis Shakur
Naheed Niazi and her younger sister, Najma Niazi, are the daughters of Sarwar Niazi, the former director of Radio Pakistan, Karachi.
Let us glance at Naheed Niazi’s true-life accomplishments, which is an instance of human excellence and personal success.
It goes without saying that she was the most gorgeous female singer of Pakistani music in the 1960s.
Naheed Niazi was fair-haired, extremely attractive, and profoundly intelligent and arguably the best singer in the golden era of popular Pakistani film music.
Her father wanted to see her soar.
In addition to being highly educated, impressive, charming and driven, she possessed the extraordinary gift of a magnificent voice.
Her immense appeal and her absolute belief to forget the past and move on to her next stage took her to the forefront of the rising Pakistani music scene in 1958.
Smitten by music at an early age, Naheed recorded this song:  “Jaag taqdeer ko jaga loon gee”. (Recorded in 1958 for the super hit film “Aadmi”, composer: Muslehuddin)
The afore-mentioned song took her to the mainstream music arena and even more so in entertainment. Along with the song, she came out number one.
As brilliant as brilliant can be, Naheed captured the high spirit of one of Pakistan’s best-loved song, which is “Ik baar phir kaho”.
Naheed’s incomparable voice is the melody of a grateful heart.
The song which made her time-honored symbol of success was “Raat saloni Aaye”(Duet: Naheed Niazi-Ahmed Rushdi, composer:
Muslehuddin, the film “Zamana kya kahay ga,”
The film “Zamana kya kahay ga” made her absolutely, unequivocally, as successful as a singer could be in the then Pakistani music scene.
Pakistan film industry is rich with tales of legendary artists who risked all to chase their dreams. Their vision and perseverance have won them success.
Naheed is, indeed, one of them.
She is a glorious woman with the smarts to succeed and she never made mistakes winners don’t make.
“Raat saloni Aaye” is a song, which is celebrated all over the country even today.
Naheed worked real hard from day one. She knew that she couldn’t ride easy street and expect to reach the stars.
In fact, there was something in her face that transcends the ordinary.
After listening to “Raat saloni” music buffs had drawn the conclusion that the wistful magic of Naheed has a capacity and depth almost to mesmerize listeners.
When the film  “Daal mein kala” arrived in the theatres, cine-goers rushed to watch the movie because of the following song: “Samajh na Aaye dilko kahan lay jaa oon sanam”. (Composer: Muslehuddin).
Naheed was really tuned into the rhythm of this particular genre-sad solo-“Dil ko kahan”.
The transporting power of love and anguish were successfully captured by Naheed in the film “Daal mein kala”.
As a result of her focused concentration, Naheed rapidly climbed the rungs of the ladder and became indispensable to Pakistani movie directors.
Additionally, she provided countless hours of pleasure to millions of her loyal fans and occupied an indelible place in their hearts, as well.
Naheed who achieved legendary stature as a singer, teamed up with Ahmed Rushdi to record the following duet: “Raat ho gaye jawan” for the film “Dil nay tujhay maan liya”.
The following song was recorded in the voice of Naheed in the feel-good composition: “Husn bhi mauj mein hai” for the film “Mujhay jeenay do”.
In her brief singing career, Naheed recorded quite a few songs.
Along the way she left the treasure of a lifetime.
Naheed achieved fame beyond her wildest dreams when the following song was first broadcast through Radio Pakistan: “Chum, chum, chum, milay hain sanam, lut gaye hum, Allah qasam”.
Her interest was to create entertainment. And she was victorious.
With “chum, chum,” Naheed showed a watchful intelligence and drew plaudits all around.
With the following songs, Naheed struck a chord in music lovers that still resonates in their ears:
“Chali ray, chali ray, chali ray,” pictured on Musarrat Nazeer.
“Sayyan jee ko dhoond nay chali jogun bun kay”, pictured on Neelo.
“Mohay piya Milan ko janay day”, pictured on Musarrat Nazeer.
“Kaisa safar hai kahiye, yoon he qareeb rahiye”(duet: Naheed Niazi-Ahmed Rushdi, pictured on Shamim Ara-Kamal).
Naheed owes much of her optimism, tenacity and admirable thought to her father and the musician, Muslehuddin.
She was always ambitious and motivated.
The love and admiration which her fans lavished on her is astounding.
The following songs glorifies her tale of warmth and gratitude:
“Tujh ko maloom naheen.’
“Na koi  sayyan  mera, na koi piya ray”.
“Aa tujh ko suna oon lori, halaat say chori chori”.
The following songs have left us a legacy of cool serenity, of calm, of quiet little moments:
“Zamana pyar ka itna he kum hai, ye na jana tha”.
“Piya, piya, na cook papiha”.
The past has its allure, so is her memory.
Given here below is a song about which it can be stated that its message is universal, its lyrics transcend all earthly barriers, and its music touches the skies:
“Raqs mein hai sara jahan”.
What is unique about the songs of Naheed is that the sweetness is so profound.
Music director, Muslehuddin, who had composed most of the songs for Naheed , became enamored of her.
There’s were a relationship marked by concord.
Moreover, Muslehuddin often met up with her in the decade of the sixties.
Subsequently they slipped away for a while to tie the knot.
Soon after marriage they migrated to UK, which was a tremendous setback for Pakistani cinema.
Years passed and the Pakistani public lost touch of them.
However, in the late 1990s, both Naheed and her husband-cum-composer, Muslehuddin, paid a visit to Pakistan.
Lahore television’s Rehana Siddiqi, interviewed them.
The sweet smile that had opened so many doors to success for Naheed in the past, persists to this day.
From the glint in her eyes, it seemed that she is still in her element.
Happily, though, Naheed the singer hasn’t lost her touch-and  Naheed the woman  hasn’t lost her charm.
Many Pakistanis still remember Naheed – Muslehuddin, when both of them regularly made their appearance for the music program for children in the late 1960s.
Naheed’s daughter, Nermin, received the best upbringing, education and etiquettes from her parents.
Like her mother, Nermin took keen interest in music.
Naheed Niazi and Nermin sang a duet, ‘Rim jhim rim jhim paray phuar, tera mera nitka pyar,’ composer, Khursheed Anwar.
And the audience of hundreds detonated into applause for Nermin Niazi, when she sung the song at a music concert in the late 1980s. In fact, Nermin filled in for her aunt, Najma Niazi in that duet.

Further, Nermin also sang semi-classical ghazals in Moslehuddin’s or Feisal’s compositions.

Nowadays, Nermin lives in UK. While her brother, Feisal, resides in California.

Nahid Niazi : A Charming Voice from the Past
It was difficult to predict what Nahid Niazi would look like after all these years. But one thing is was for sure, that she herself wanted to come out and interact with the Pakistani and South Asian community here after a long time in relative seclusion following the death of her husband, the music conductor/composer Moslehuddin in the year 2003.
And it just happens to be our luck that her son Feisal Mosleh (a musician in his own right) is a resident of the San Francisco Bay area. And since they volunteered to assist the local group of Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans at a fundraiser on March 23rd to assist The Citizens Foundation, we interacted and agreed to meet with her at a celebration that was being held at the Chandni Restaurant the following day in nearby Newark.

Coincidentally, this event was being put together with the help of Ms. Raana Faiz of the Hamrahi Radio Program and incorporated many individual celebrations within the community. In the hands of Raana, this gathering became much bigger than anticipated and we ended up with a gala evening of fine food and entertainment during which local singer Anisha Bakshi, Poetess Noshi Gilani and music composer Ali Shahabuddin amongst others excelled in their talents. The coincidence was that Raana Faiz is also a childhood friend of the Niazi sisters, and this was quite a trip down memory lane for them. Another interesting development was that some relatives of this writer had appeared in a children’s program conducted by Moslehuddin on Pakistan television during the late 1960’s. So this was not exactly a meeting of strangers.

Since you do not ask a lady her age, and one does not need to estimate that here, but when my wife and I saw Nahid sitting with her son Feisal and his wife Kim, one could easily mistake them all for being from a much younger set. She has the good looks of the Niazi clan of which the cricket great Imran Khan is the most famous example. But beyond the looks there is a gentle demeanor and charm that oozes a sense of confidence. Through the measured words one can gather that she has adapted to her life in the United Kingdom but she misses her home in Pakistan. She visits her son Feisal in California once in a while and enjoys her grandchildren both here and in the U.K. where her daughter Nermin lives. But can almost feel that the loss of her husband Mosleh was and still is sometimes overpowering.

Nahid is the daughter of the late Sajjad Sarwar Niazi a former Director at Radio Pakistan. A Pakistani from the Niazi clan, married to Moslehuddin, a Bengali, the two had to face the traumatic year of 1971 together. The creation of Bangladesh was the second partition of the sub-continent, and many couples had to make painful decisions. There were break ups of families; West-Pakistanis who had married Bengalis were concerned about their future and there were rumors that Bengali husbands were leaving their West-Pakistani wives. According to Nahid, many such rumors about her own marriage were spreading in Pakistan at that time and that had her family worried.

But Moslehuddin and Nahid conquered the new division and settled in the U.K. permanently. They made a big impact in their newly adopted country because as rumor has it Moslehuddin, the accomplished music composer, helped to invent a new food dish that the British just cannot get enough of, that being “Chicken Tikka Masala.” “It is true,” said Nahid. And speaking of food, Nahid revealed her love shrimp and prawns in all forms and considers them her favorite food. “But I can’t eat crab,” she said. “Even though Mosleh loved it,” she added.

On her own all time favorite song she mentioned that out of many, her father’s composition “Ek Baar Phir Kaho Zara” previously sung by Shamshad Begum was her choice. Her favorite female singers are Noor Jehan and Lata Mangeshkar. Amongst male voices those of Mohd. Rafi and Mehdi Hassan along with Ahmed Rushdie have a special appeal for her. She added that Rushdie, whom she had sung duets with, would use several takes to perfect his songs while she herself would try to finish her recordings in as few takes as possible.

On another note she said that she is learning Bengali these days and can now read some of the script. She said that what inspired her was the need to understand more of what her husband wrote, because he loved the language and wrote in it. She said that her relationship with her late mother-in-law was also very inspiring. Nahid said that Moslehuddin was buried in Islamabad as the family wished. On her future plans she had this to say; “I was sorting out my life after Mosleh’s death.” And since her children are now well settled; “I am all set to come back,” she added. One can be sure that Pakistan and possibly even Bangladesh will hear from her soon.

To conclude, it almost seems fair to write that the Golden Age of Pakistani arts has somehow just got to be preserved. Online this effort has been attempted by Mazhar in the Denmark and by Anis Shakur in New York. Our Washington based Pakistani journalist Khalid Hasan has been amongst the best historians of this age when Pakistanis could boast of a vibrant film, arts, and entertainment industry. Mohtarma Nahid Niazi is one voice from that era. She spoke candidly about her contemporaries and about being inspired by the greats of the time like the Poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz. One can only hope that more people out there will attempt to properly archive this past for the benefit of our future generations and in the process utilize Nahid Niazi as an important resource.

Report & Photos
By Ras Hafiz Siddiqui