MAG THE WEEKLY | INTERVIEW
SHIRAZ UPPAL - A MUSIC FANATIC
by SUMEHA KHALID
12 - 18 Dec, 2015
#content
HASAN AHMED - Marking His Territory

Be it Pakistani movies or Indian flicks Shiraz Uppal has sung many a hit numbers that went on to becoming box office hits. On the Indian circuit it was Uppal’s Roya Re that catapulted him to instant fame while on the local scene his rendition of hits like Tu Hai Meri and Tera Te Mera captured the market.
Shiraz Uppal entered showbiz as a rookie nearly two decades ago and is today at the zenith of success. But where he has seen success, he has also seen tough times, the worst being when his wife was diagnosed with cancer. But it is adversities that have made him a stronger person. There was also a time when Uppal took time off from music, opting for the spiritual path, which for a die-hard musician was a tough call. However, having been through various phases in life, Uppal is at a stage where he is leading life on his terms and is enjoying it to the fullest.
“I had always been into music big time. It was my hobby that became my passion, and finally my profession. But not before I had completed my education to my dad’s satisfaction.” Earning the MBA degree was his late father’s desire as he had always said that Uppal could pursue any career after completing his education. “Being a son it was my duty to fulfill his wish before embarking on a journey of my choice – career in music,” shares Uppal.
Once decided what he wanted to do in life, Uppal got down to setting up his own studio. “Back then I used to hire studios to record my first album but never got the desired sound that I had in mind for my music. So, I decided to set up my own S.U.Studios. But before I did that I learned the technicalities of making music. I believe it’s not the machines, but the people behind them who make a difference. The talent to sing was innate which only needed to be polished, whereas producing music and recording was an art that had to be learnt. Initially, I found recording and mixing very difficult and thought it was not my thing, but it was sheer determination that made me master the art.”
Uppal’s studios offer state-of-the-art technology which is why most of the mainstream artists get their songs produced and recorded there. “All of my Indian projects are also executed in my own studios.”
It has been a long and exciting journey for this successful musician during which he produced four pop albums: Tu Hai Meri, Tera Te Mera, Jhuki Jhuki and Ankahi that he composed, produced and recorded. It was back in 2001 that Uppal got his first break in India where he sang Shakalaka Baby for the movie Nayak. This was followed by his all-time hit Roya Re for Pooja Bhatt’s Dhoka. Next was Rabba for the movie Aashayein “for which I bagged the Indian Mirchi Music Award 2010 in the Best Upcoming Music Director category and from there it went on and on by the grace of Allah,” relates Uppal.
In many interviews, Uppal always refers to the Indian genius A.R Rahman as his guru. “It was my biggest dream to work with him that became a reality in 2001 when I went to London to record the song Shakalaka Baby.” Uppal recently collaborated with Rahman for a series of concerts held in various North American cities in summer 2015. In fact, one of Uppal’s most memorable moments in his music career is when Rahman chose him for his hit composition, Ranjhaana.
For his music, Uppal seeks inspiration from within. “My feelings are the only inspiration when I compose a song. But for my film music, the inspiration is primarily given by the director according to the situation, which I translate into my own style,” he adds.
In an interview Uppal had once said that all his love songs are dedicated to his wife Ayesha. The two share a special bond which formulated early on in life when both were students.
“Ayesha and I were together in the university while doing our MBA. Although she was a semester junior to me, we had a couple of courses in common. It was love at first sight for me. The moment I laid eyes on her I knew I would like to get to know her better. Although at that time she hadn’t even noticed me. But soon after, there was a trip planned by our university and it was during that trip that we were formally introduced. My instincts are never wrong (Alhamdulillah) and during that first meeting in the bus I knew she was the one for me. I proposed to her on the third day after the trip and she was obviously taken aback as it was too soon for her. We had barely met one another, but I always follow my heart and that was exactly what I did at that moment too,” says Uppal reminiscing about his fairy tale marriage.
Uppal considers Ayesha his biggest support in his music career. “It is out of pure love that she has always gone out of her way to do things for me. She is one of the biggest blessings in my life and my son Haadi, of course! Haadi is 15 years old; he and I are more like friends. We have a lot of common interests. Be it music, table tennis, watching movies or playing cricket – I enjoy every bit of our relationship,” says the proud dad.
When asked to tell us about his personal favourite number, he says, “All my songs are my favourite. It is very difficult to pick one out of these but I would say Roya Re and Alahad are the closest to my heart as both are sad songs which talk about being separated from your loved ones. They remind me of my dad who I miss each day, despite the fact that he’s been gone for 17 years now. I wish he could have seen how far I have come in life,” says the melancholic Uppal.
While Uppal is on a high from a successful 2015, he is however not too happy with the current political situation of the country. “Not only the music industry but the whole country is at a precarious stage at this point in time which is adversely affecting all the industries. Bollywood is a much bigger platform where an artist can showcase his work and what’s more, India has always been a great admirer of Pakistani music and vocals. Hence, we see so many collaborations taking place between Pakistani and Indian musicians. We, musicians also feel pride in being the peace ambassadors from Pakistan,” he adds.
Uppal has to his credit the soundtrack of Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s 3 Bahadur, Ballay Ballay and Bin Roye for Momina Duraid’s Bin Roye, all the songs for Wajahat Rauf’s Karachi se Lahore, and “more recently I have composed a track for Mehreen Jabbar’s upcoming movie, Dobara Phir Se. Lots more is in the pipeline that I will surely disclose when the time is right,” Uppal signs off.

 

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