• 24 Mar - 30 Mar, 2018
  • Rabia Mushtaq
  • Interview

"Nazia and I were very simple children. We had a very simple, middle-class life when we started,” Zoheb Hassan, the heartthrob of yesteryears who is still reigning the hearts of his fans around the world, tells me.

Speaking on phone from the chilly London, Zoheb shares several warm memories of his life as one of Pakistan’s most admired pop stars, his childhood and the relationship he had with his sister, as well as how Pakistan’s music scene has transformed for the better. So grab your cup of chai and read this exclusive chat with one of the most handsome musicians of our country.

“I wasn’t into singing at all,” says Zoheb, a musician by chance who actually wanted to become a professional tennis player. “I used to play tennis all the time. Even now, I play tennis for Middlesex County in England. Though I am much older now, but feel quite fit to play the game. I would have been a tennis player, if not a musician.”

Zoheb is, indeed, the most gifted singer who did not only sing but wrote and composed his own songs, however, Zoheb, along with his sister – the great Nazia Hassan – became a brand every Pakistani was proud to own. The brother-sister duo, as we all know them as Nazia and Zoheb, attracted the younger generation from the 80s, bringing about a revolution in the musical realm. I ask Zoheb, how it felt to be an inspiration for the youth back in those days?

“There were people who were also doing the same thing (pop music) in different forms. We probably had the widest acceptability at that time. We were teenagers, so we had a following of young people, as well as those in their 30s,” he shares and then adds, “All these people wanted pop music; even though they liked classical and film music, they also wanted music they could relate to, so we just happened to arrive at the right time, despite the fact that there was a lot on offer in the form of Indian and Pakistani film music, folk music, as well as ghazals which were also doing very well at that time.”

Nazia and Zoheb Hassan with their parents

Zoheb not only excels at singing but is also a talented composer and lyricist. Like many musicians, did his life and experiences have any influence on his music? Here’s what he has to say. “Yes, of course. As an artiste and composer, whatever one listens to and observes day and night, goes into their subconscious and it does become a part of their creative process. Same happened with us, for we absorbed information involuntarily and were naturally influenced by what we saw around us,” he says, sharing an example of how the situations around them inspired their simple music. “After having lived in London for some time, I came back to Pakistan and discovered this trend of crank calls, so that’s how I wrote Telephone Pyar. One absorbs what’s happening around them and it shows through their music.”

Zoheb and Nazia were indeed a phenomenon and this interview wouldn’t have been complete without him talking about the love he had for his sister. I ask if they ever fought like regular siblings do? “We hardly ever fought, because Nazia was a very gentle person. She loved me a lot and was very protective about me. We weren’t just siblings, we were music companions. That really made a difference and we had a really close bond.”

Reminiscing about the most memorable moment of his career, the Dheere Dheere singer shared how the celebrated Indian film actor, Dilip Kumar, adored the brother-sister duo. “We went to Delhi for the promotion of Disco Deewane and all of a sudden, Dilip Kumar came on stage and took the mic saying, ‘Nazia and Zoheb are my children and everybody please note that I’m going to be their godfather in India’. So that was one of the biggest moments of my life, followed by the success of Music 89, for it revolutionised music in Pakistan,” he makes it known.

Despite being busy in his property and construction business, Zoheb manages to come up with original music, as he released his latest album – Signature, which according to him, is his best album till date – in collaboration with international music producer, DJ Swami. “There’s some very good music in there. I was very happy doing this album and we worked very hard on it. The harmonies and my vocals for this album came out much better than they ever have in my previous albums. So, it is probably better than most of the albums that I have ever done,” he reveals.

Zoheb feels there isn’t any secret recipe to make it big in the music industry. “There is a lot of hard work involved and these days you have to be in the right place at the right time, with the right company, such as good promoters and sponsors supporting you. This whole phenomenon has become like a big media machine,” he divulges about the sad reality of media which sometimes ignores talented musicians. “You can be the best musician in the world, but you will never be noticed if the machine doesn’t pick you up and in that, luck also plays a huge role,” Zoheb laments, while stating that one must never stop working hard and learn from the talented people before them.

The brilliant crooner can be recently spotted alongside Fawad Khan, in a latest beverage ad, where he, along with Khan grooves to the beat of his popular tune Ek Do Kehne Bhi Do, giving off some vintage vibes of the golden days. Zoheb might have something in store for his loyal fans, as far as acting is concerned. He hasn’t accepted the offer yet, but calls it an honour to be considered for the role. As for his fans, love is all what Zoheb has to share. “I love all my fans. Some have been with me since the beginning of my career, while some have recently joined me through Coke Studio and other recent ventures. Thank you for keeping me alive in the media and music industry.” •