musical history

The proposed biopic on Nazia and Zoheb Hassan needs to have these songs

Among their most popular hits are ‘Aap Jaisa Koi Mere Zindagi Mein Aaye’, ‘Boom Boom’ and ‘Disco Deewane’.

A biopic on the popular Pakistani-British singing siblings Nazia and Zoheb Hassan is taking shape somewhere between London and Mumbai. Zoheb Hassan did not reveal too many details about the production in a recent interview, except that he had been approached by an unidentified Indian writer, an unnamed Indian director was attached to the project and the musician Biddu, who launched Nazia in 1980 in the movie Qurbani, was working on the music.

The telegenic brother and sister worked together on non-film albums in the 1980s, but their journey started with the song “Aap Jaisa Koi Mere Zindagi Mein Aaye” in Feroz Khan’s crime drama Qurbani. Nazia was 15 years old when Biddu met her on Khan’s recommendation at her apartment in London. The massive success of “Aap Jaisa Koi”, which also owed something to the fact that it was filmed on a svelte and sexy Zeenat Aman, bagged Nazia a Filmfare Best Female Playback award, and her career as a star of the disco-themed club song was set.

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‘Aap Jaisa Koi’ from ‘Qurbani’.

Naiza began singing with Zoheb for musical shows in Karachi in the late ’70s. In 1976, the duo appeared in Pakistan’s first English language film Beyond The Last Mountain as extras in a song sequence.

The success of “Aap Jaisa Koi” led to another collaboration with Biddu. He was approached by the music label HMV to record its first non-film album with Nazia, he writes in his memoir Made in India. Biddu asked Zoheb to compose a few tunes too, and the 16-year-old singer came up with three songs. Some of the titles initially under consideration were Disco Party and Music Ke Deewane.

Disco Deewane was released in April 1981 and sold 100,000 copies on the first day of its release, Biddu writes. The songs played not only across the Indian subcontinent and the South Asian diaspora in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the Caribbean, but also in Brazil, South Africa, Russia and Indonesia.

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The title track from ‘Disco Deewane’.

Buoyed by the success of Disco Deewane, Biddu came up with a movie plot about a young man who becomes a successful singer. Directed by Vinod Pande and starring Kumar Gaurav and Rati Agnihotri, the soundtrack of Star (1982) had eight tracks by Biddu, all sung by the Hassan siblings. The soundtrack was also released as the album Boom Boom, the title song of which was another smash hit.

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‘Boom Boom’ from the movie ‘Star.’

The Hassans collaborated on other non-film albums, including Young Tarang in 1984. The music videos that featured the siblings were popular in Pakistan, but they also attracted the ire of the country’s military dictator, Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Zia ordered the state-run television and radio networks to stop playing “un-Islamic” disco music. The siblings were reportedly summoned to the President’s residence in Islamabad and given a lecture on the appropriate behaviour to be displayed while performing such songs, including avoiding physical contact between male and female singers and sticking to the local dress code. The ban was lifted after the Hassan siblings complied with Zia’s diktats and dressed demurely in subsequent music programmes.

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The music video ‘Aankhein Milane Wale’, featuring Nazia Hassan.

Nazia and Zoheb Hassan collaborated on two more albums, Hotline (1987) and Camera Camera (1992). Nazia retired from singing after Camera Camera. She died of lung cancer in 2000. Zoheb Hassan, always the weaker of the two singers, tried to re-establish himself as a solo artist in the late ’90s and the early ’00s. In 2006, he released the album Kismat.

Although Zoheb’s singing career was never in the same league as his sister’s, proof of the enduring popularity of their musical partnership can be found in his appearance on Coke Studio, in which he sang “Chehra” from the album Young Tarang.

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Zoheb Hassan on Coke Studio.
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Changing the conversation around mental health in rural India

Insights that emerged from discussions around mental health at a village this World Mental Health Day.

Questioning is the art of learning. For an illness as debilitating as depression, asking the right questions is an important step in social acceptance and understanding. How do I open-up about my depression to my parents? Can meditation be counted as a treatment for depression? Should heartbreak be considered as a trigger for deep depression? These were some of the questions addressed by a panel consisting of the trustees and the founder of The Live Love Lough Foundation (TLLLF), a platform that seeks to champion the cause of mental health. The panel discussion was a part of an event organised by TLLLF to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

According to a National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16, conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS), common mental disorders including depression, anxiety disorders and substance use disorders affect nearly 10% of the population, with 1 in 20 people in India suffering from depression. The survey reported a huge treatment gap, a problem that is spread far and wide across urban and rural parts of the country.

On 10th of October, trustees of the foundation, Anna Chandy, Dr. Shyam Bhat and Nina Nair, along with its founder, Deepika Padukone, made a visit to a community health project centre in Devangere, Karnataka. The project, started by The Association of People with Disability (APD) in 2010, got a much-needed boost after partnering with TLLLF 2 years ago, helping them reach 819 people suffering from mental illnesses and spreading its program to 6 Taluks, making a difference at a larger scale.

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During the visit, the TLLLF team met patients and their families to gain insights into the program’s effectiveness and impact. Basavaraja, a beneficiary of the program, spoke about the issues he faced because of his illness. He shared how people used to call him mad and would threaten to beat him up. Other patients expressed their difficulty in getting access to medical aid for which they had to travel to the next biggest city, Shivmoga which is about 2 hours away from Davangere. A marked difference from when TLLLF joined the project two years ago was the level of openness and awareness present amongst the villagers. Individuals and families were more expressive about their issues and challenges leading to a more evolved and helpful conversation.

The process of de-stigmatizing mental illnesses in a community and providing treatment to those who are suffering requires a strong nexus of partners to make progress in a holistic manner. Initially, getting different stakeholders together was difficult because of the lack of awareness and resources in the field of mental healthcare. But the project found its footing once it established a network of support from NIMHANS doctors who treated the patients at health camps, Primary Healthcare Centre doctors and the ASHA workers. On their visit, the TLLLF team along with APD and the project partners discussed the impact that was made by the program. Were beneficiaries able to access the free psychiatric drugs? Did the program help in reducing the distance patients had to travel to get treatment? During these discussions, the TLLLF team observed that even amongst the partners, there was an increased sense of support and responsiveness towards mental health aid.

The next leg of the visit took the TLLLF team to the village of Bilichodu where they met a support group that included 15 patients and caregivers. Ujjala Padukone, Deepika Padukone’s mother, being a caregiver herself, was also present in the discussion to share her experiences with the group and encouraged others to share their stories and concerns about their family members. While the discussion revolved around the importance of opening up and seeking help, the team brought about a forward-looking attitude within the group by discussing future possibilities in employment and livelihood options available for the patients.

As the TLLLF team honoured World Mental Health day, 2017 by visiting families, engaging with support groups and reviewing the successes and the challenges in rural mental healthcare, they noticed how the conversation, that was once difficult to start, now had characteristics of support, openness and a positive outlook towards the future. To continue this momentum, the organisation charted out the next steps that will further enrich the dialogue surrounding mental health, in both urban and rural areas. The steps include increasing research on mental health, enhancing the role of social media to drive awareness and decrease stigma and expanding their current programs. To know more, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of The Live Love Laugh Foundation and not by the Scroll editorial team.