The name of Nisar Bazmi has been synonymous with quality songs for nearly 60 years and his work needs no introduction. Be it Ahmed Rushdi singing Aise Bhi Hain Meherban or Kuch Log Rooth Kar Bhi, Noor Jehan rendering vocals for Abhi Dhoond Hi Rahi Thi, Runa Laila giving her vocal chords an exercise with Dil Dhadke and Kaatay Na Katay, Mehdi Hasan reminiscing with Ranjish Hi Sahi, Nayyara Noor singing the ever-popular Bol Ri Guriya Bol Zara and Alamgir crooning Hum Chale To Hamare, all of them are still famous and on the lips of everyone who has heard them even once.
But due to the negligence of our film producers, directors and TV officials, the maestro has been living a forced retired life. Although he has not been active in the music scene since composing songs for S. Suleman’s Very Good Duniya, Very Bad Loag in 1998, which saw him make a one-film comeback as well, he still has all it takes to compose songs, like the great ones he used to in the past.
‘Every other person is composing music and going for quantity rather than quality. If they continue to stop making countless songs and go for quality, I’m sure the era of good patriotic songs will return,’ says Nisar Bazmi
Born Syed Nisar Ahmed at Mumbai, India in 1924 into a religious family, he had to change his last name to Bazmi to become a musician in India and his first film, Jamna Paar, released in 1946, established him as a first-rate composer. Overall, Bazmi composed songs for more than 40 films in India (Jaib Katra, Dagha Baaz Dost, Extra Girl, Khaufnaak Aankhein), 28 of which were released during his stay in the country while 12 others after his migration to Pakistan in 1962.
Although he himself was a musician in India, with the great Laxmikant Pyarelal being his assistants, before migrating to Pakistan and starting his Lollywood career with Aisa Bhi Hota Hai, Bazmi sahib, as he is more commonly known, doesn’t regret his step to migrate as he believes that he has received more from Pakistan than he has given to the country. He was, however, very unhappy on being asked whether he is for or against the trend in which our musicians and producers go to Bollywood and get Indian playback singers to lend their voices to Lollywood films. He believes that in Pakistan, we have equally talented singers like Shazia Manzoor who had to go across the border to prove their mettle after being neglected in their own country. When asked if the step is in the right direction, he remarked angrily that this step is not only degrading Pakistani singers but the entire nation.
“I don’t know who is giving producers the authority to do this but it is certainly not very patriotic. Pakistan degrade ho raha hai, Pakistani singers kia cheez hain. This attempt might yield good profits to the producers but it is degrading your own country. We also have talented singers waiting for the right chance and we should use them rather than going to India,” he says.
Legendary Indian musician Naushad made a comeback through Akbar Khan’s Taj Mahal while Yash Chopra used late Madan Mohan’s tunes in Veer Zaara. When asked about a possible comeback since one of his contemporaries made one, the maestro said, “I never left. I am still the composer I used to be and I don’t think that I should go to producers for work. Agar woh mujhe is qabil samajhte hain to mujhe film dein gay. I have done quality work all my life and it is they who should come to me if they want me to give music for their films.”
Bazmi sahib has given the country countless patriotic songs like Yeh Watan Tumhara Hai (Mehdi Hasan) and Khayal Rakhna (Alamgir, Benjamin Sisters) Hum Zinda Qaum Hain (Tehseen Javed, Amjad Hussain, Fatima Jafri, Benjamin Sisters) and Aae Rooh-i-Quaid (Sajjad Ali, Benjamin Sisters), which are still famous after so many years. But these days, patriotic songs by newcomers are not generating the fervour the old songs did.
On being asked why, the modest musician said, “I just tried to give this country a small share of what it has given me by composing those songs. As for the decline, people would say that it is because the importance of August 14 has declined over the years but I don’t think so. The importance of the day Pakistan was created is still the same. I think the reason why these youngsters are unable to compose good songs is that a good patriotic song is not an ordinary song. It takes time to compose but our youngsters don’t have much patience. Every other person is composing music and going for quantity rather than quality. If they continue to stop making countless songs and go for quality, I’m sure the era of good patriotic songs will return.”
When asked about the singers that sang for him, Bazmi sahib said that all those who sang for him, namely the late Ahmed Rushdi, Madam Noor Jehan and Masood Rana were all great singers and it is impossible to rate them.
“How would you rate Madam if asked to do the same? Obviously first as she was the best vocalist Pakistan ever had. Similarly people like Ahmed Rushdi are not born every day and it would be a long time before we get a replacement for him and others.”
Bazmi sahib teaches music to up-and-coming youngsters, but only Faisal Latif has managed to become somewhat popular. When asked why his students like Shafiq-ur-Rehman, Tanveer Afridi, Shabana and Shazia Kausar are unable to reach the top, he says, “My job was to train them, which I did. Now it is up to the musicians to utilize them as I am sure they have the talent to be the best.” When asked if our is youth going in the right direction, Bazmi sahib feels that it is because of our youths’ lack of interest that our music is not what it used to be.
“A youngster today doesn’t want to be taught like the legendary singers. His only interest is to become rich and famous in a short time, which is certainly the wrong way.”
“By giving 100 per cent in our field, whatever it may be from music to engineering, we can contribute to our country and make it a better place. If our youth goes for the best, I believe that Pakistan will continue to grow and beat even the best in the world,” says Nisar Bazmi.