Singer Zoheb Hassan has opened up about his late sister Nazia Hasan on what would have been her 53rd birthday.
In a recent interview, the Chehra hit-maker has discussed how Nazia won her first Filmfare award at just 15 and how her hit dance number Disco Deewane ended up being featured in Karan Johar’s 2012 film Student of the Year. Zoheb also revealed how actor Feroze Khan refused to work with her, saying that she was a “kid.”
Here are few excerpts from the interview:
Was it Nazia and Zoheb who truly turned India and Pakistan into disco deewane with their new approach to quintessential Pakistani music? To this, Zoheb replied, “Well, many forms of pop music have always been there since the inception of time. People listened to our music and said, ‘What is this? A combination of Hindi, English music. It’s totally different.’ We were just kids. We had never been to a recording studio before.”
He continued, “Nazia’s voice was like the (legendary Swedish pop band) ABBA singers when it hit the microphone. It sounded like a double track, but it wasn’t.”
Zoheb went on to recall that Nazia was not only a talented singer but a philanthropist at heart as well. “People don’t know many things about Nazia. We grew up not just as siblings, but as professionals too,” he shared. “She did charity all her life. She gave every single penny of her royalty to charity. The goodness of Nazia as a person came out through her music too.”
As a brother what emotions does Zoheb feel upon Nazia’s birth anniversary? “I can barely talk to you,” he responded. “It’s something which is deep inside your heart. It’s broken up every single time on her birth or death anniversary. It cuts you from inside. She went very young.”
He added, “I was flying when she passed away. She had asked the doctor to intensify the chemotherapy as she wanted to live for her son. The doctor told her if he gives her any more chemotherapy, she will not survive anyway. Brave girl that she was, Nazia told the doctor that even if there is a 1% chance, you intensify the chemotherapy. However, her body was too frail and she passed away.”
Talking about how Aap Jaisa Koi became Nazia’s first big break, Zoheb revealed their mothers’ reaction when she was told about it. “Nazia only told mom hoping she doesn’t have to leave school for this. Mom told her no, you don’t. All you have to do is go one day to the studio and record it. That’s exactly what she did,” said Zoheb.
Zoheb also revealed how Feroze wasn’t too keen on working with the duo.
“Feroz Khan wasn’t keen to listen to us. He said, ‘I don’t want to work with kids.’ Zeenat Aman told him to at least listen to her voice as it was more mature than a woman’s. She asked Feroz to do this for her. Then he and Vinod Khanna heard Nazia, and Khan replied, ‘Zeenat, you were right. I haven’t heard this before’.”
Nazia became an overnight star in India with Aap Jaisa Koi. How was the experience when the duo flew to India to receive her Filmfare?
“Phenomenal,” Zoheb said. “The way India opened its arms for Nazia and me, it was amazing. The hospitality, the affection. I have so many friends in India. Nazia sang with Kishore Kumar, who then sang with his son, and us four performed together.”
Nazia didn’t live long enough to see the remake of Disco Deewane from Karan Johar’s Student Of The Year, however, this wasn’t the first time a rendition of the famous dance number came about. How did the previous versions of the song fare?
“To be honest, I haven’t listened to most of them,” confessed Zoheb. “I am in London most of the time. I didn’t know about them. I heard the remake from Student Of The Year, but I never saw the film. You won’t believe who told me about this remake. It was Salman Khan. He is a dear friend, who told me, “Your song has been recreated by Karan Johar.”
“Nazia’s legacy is her music,” continued Zoheb. “Which would be that she was a good person in showbiz, set an example that you can be super talented and successful while still being a good person. It can go hand in hand. That is the unique thing about Nazia. At the same time, she maintained her education. She was a lawyer. She was a great role model for the youth. The only thing she couldn’t crack was her life. It was very short.”