Nazia Hassan

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Nazia Hassan
Nazia Hassan.jpg
Nazia Hassan
Background information
Birth name Nazia Hassan
Born (1965-04-03)3 April 1965[1]
Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
Origin Pakistan
Died 13 August 2000(2000-08-13) (aged 35)[1]
London, United Kingdom
Genres Pop, Pakistani pop
Occupation(s) Singer, Lawyer, Social activist
Instruments Vocal
Years active 1980–1992
Labels EMI Records
Associated acts Zoheb Hassan, Biddu, Alisha Chinai

Nazia Hassan (April 1965 – 13 August 2000)[1] was a Pakistani pop singer, lawyer and social activist. Through her successful singing career, Hassan became one of the subcontinent's singing legends and one of the most popular celebrities of South Asia. She had received numerous national and international awards, and was the first Pakistani to win Filmfare Award in the Best Female Playback Singer category and remains the youngest winner to date when she was 15. Hassan is a recipient of the Pakistan's highest civil award, Pride of Performance.

Hassan made her singing debut with the song "Aap Jaisa Koi", from the Indian film Qurbani (1980) made her famous in Pakistan and all of South Asia in the 1980s. Her debut album, Disco Deewane (1981), also charted in fourteen countries worldwide and became the best-selling Asian pop record up until that time.[2] She, along with her brother Zoheb Hassan, went on to sell over 60 million records worldwide.[3]

In addition to singing in films, Hassan had engaged in philanthropic activities, and was appointed as United Nations Security Council at the United Nations Headquarters in New York for Child Rights in 1991. She was also a Political Analyst for the United Nations (1992-1994).

Early life[edit]

See also: Nazia and Zoheb

Hassan was born into a Muhajir family in Karachi, Pakistan and brought up in Karachi and London. She was the daughter of Basir Hassan, a businessman, and Muniza Basir, an active social worker. She was the sister of singers Zoheb Hassan and Zara Hassan.[4]

Hassan received her Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and Economics at the Richmond American University in London. In 1991, she became an intern in the Women’s International Leadership program at the United Nations. Later on she went on to work for United Nations Security Council. She held a London University Law degree LLB.[1]


1975–1980: Beginning[edit]

Hassan began singing during the late 1970s, when she appeared on several television shows on Pakistan Television (PTV) as a child artist. Her professional career started at the age of fifteen when she provided the lead vocals for the song Aap Jaisa Koi from the 1980 film ‘’Qurbani’’. She met the film director Feroz Khan at a party in the United Kingdom. Khan later requested Hassan have an audition with Biddu, a London-based Indian music composer. Biddu then signed her up for Aap Jaisa Koi, the song he composed for ‘’Qurbani’’.[2][5]

The song was a huge success in India and despite Hassan being a Pakistani, she gained overnight fame there.[6] In 1981, Hassan won the Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback for "Aap Jaisa Koi". This was followed by the Kumar Gaurav and Rati Agnihotri starrer Bollywood Hindi film Star for which Nazia and Zoheb sang all the songs.[7]

1981–1987: Pop music[edit]

After the success of "Aap Jaisa Koi", Qurbani became a big hit and she collaborated with Biddu on numerous other projects. In 1981, she became the first playback singer to release an album. Her first album was Disco Deewane. The album broke sales records in Pakistan and India and even topped the charts in the West Indies, Latin America and Russia. This album became a mega-hit and Hassan became an established pop singer in Pakistan. The album also had vocals by her brother Zohaib Hassan.

Nazia with Biddu in Mumbai.

After the release of "Disco Deewane", she and Zoheb were offered the chance to act in a movie by Biddu, but they refused to act and chose singing. Hassan's second album Star/Boom Boom was released in 1982 for which she was nominated for Filmfare Award for Best Female Playback Singer. The soundtrack of the album was used in the movie Star. The film did not succeed at the box office but the album was successful and increased the popularity of Hassan and her brother Zoheb in Pakistan and India.

Her third album, "Young Tarang" was released in 1984. It was the first album in Pakistan to feature music videos, which were made in London by David Rose and Kathy Rose. The album became one of the most popular in Asia. "Ankhien Milane Wale" was a popular song from the album. After the release of "Young Tarang", she returned to singing for Bollywood movies as a playback singer.

Her fourth album, Hotline was released in 1987. Aa Haan was the most popular song of the album.

Music 89 and retirement[edit]

At the end of 1980, she had become the most popular pop singer of Pakistan. In 1988, she and her brother Zoheb appeared with music maestro Sohail Rana in his television program, Sung Sung. In the following year, she and Zoheb hosted the groundbreaking show Music '89. The show was produced by Shoaib Mansoor. It was the first-ever all pop-music stage show to be aired on television. The show launched the careers of many new rising bands and singers and became popular in Pakistan. She hosted another show, Dhanak on PTV in the same year, 1989.

In 1991, Hassan and her brother Zoheb recorded her fifth album, Camera Camera. Before the album's release, she and Zoheb announced during a launching ceremony that it would be their last album. The album was released in 1992. It was not as successful as her previous albums and received only average reaction. After the album's release, she left her singing career to focus on her personal life.

The composer of her albums Biddu composed a song, "Made in India" and he wanted Nazia to sing it. But the retired Hassan refused to sing a song that might offend Pakistan.[8] The song was then offered to Alisha Chinai.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Hassan was married on 30 March 1995 to businessman Mirza Ishtiaq Baig in an Islamic wedding ceremony held at Karachi,.[9] This took place after her being diagnosed with cancer. They had a son Arez Hassan born on 7 April 1997. The marriage ended in a divorce ten days before Nazia's death.[10]

In an interview later, her brother Zoheb Hassan related that Nazia's personal life was filled with turmoils and she fought personal battles incessantly. [11]

Firstly, being an intelligent girl from a respectable family in the field of pop-singing was not seen as an honourable occupation at that time. Secondly, she had to battle cancer through 15 painful chemotherapies during most of her life, with prolonged years of hospitalisation. This caused her to deteriorate as a person, but she was said to portray this with a courageous front. Thirdly, her personal life was sad, with a failed marriage between two incompatible people.[12]


Nazia Hassan's grave at Hendon Cemetery (Muslim Section).

Nazia Hassan fought a long battle with cancer during the last years of her life and died of lung cancer in London on 13 August 2000 at the age of 35.[1] She had been admitted to North London Hospice in London, three days earlier when her condition deteriorated. She showed signs of mild recovery the day before she died and it was thought that doctors would allow her to go home. But early Sunday morning, her mother Muniza was called to the hospital where her daughter had started coughing heavily at around 9:15 am. She died within minutes. Her Namaz-e-janaza took place at Golders Green Crematorium and she was buried at Hendon Cemetery (Muslim Section) in London as per Islamic rites. In an interview with The Express Tribune, her brother Zoheb revealed that "She died an unhappy person, she died in pain."[10]


Hassan used her abilities to promote social causes. All the money earned from music was spent on charity. She specially worked for children, youth and women in distress residing in the underprivileged areas of Karachi. She supported the Inner Wheel Club of India and helped raise funds for it. In Pakistan, she established the organization BAN (Battle Against Narcotics) and became an active member of organizations such as Voice of Women, National Youth Organisation (Pakistan).

Hassan worked with Javed Jabbar, former Information minister, to raise funds for children in Rajasthan. She went to a very large number of schools to hand-out toys to poor children and gave talks on the subject of social awareness for the under privileged. Hassan never forgot the love and support of all the schools and always spoke about them with great affection. The worthy staff and the students of St Joseph's Convent School, Mama Parsi School and many others had gone out of their way to help the cause.

In 1991, she joined the United Nations Security Council at the United Nations Headquarters in New York and worked there for two years. In her third year, she offered her services at UNICEF. Her social and academic excellence won her a scholarship in Columbia University’s Leadership Program, but she was unable to take up the offer because around this time she was diagnosed with cancer.


Pakistan's vibrant contemporary music scene owes itself to Nazia Hassan's redefinition of pop. In fact, the biggest 1990s bands, including the Vital Signs and the Jupiters, got a platform on "Music '89".

Hassan also had a seismic impact in India. India Today magazine voted her as one of the top 50 people who helped change the face of India. She has contributed to the development of the present isomorphism of Bollywood music and pop. "She set – well ahead of its time – the personal album trend in India, spawning the likes of Alisha Chinai, Lucky Ali and Shweta Shetty", the magazine noted at the time.[13][14] After the huge success of their music, Nazia and Zoheb were signed by EMI Group and were the first South Asian singers to be signed by an international music company.[13]

On 9 March 2002, Nazia Hassan Tribute Concert was held in Karachi, the classic line-up of Vital Signs and Jupiters performed together on stage – for the first time in almost 7 years. The concert was attended by an enthusiastic audience.

On 23 March 2002 the Government of Pakistan conferred upon Nazia Hassan the highest civilian award Pride of Performance. The award was presented to Muniza Basir, mother of Nazia Hassan, from the President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf in an official ceremony held at Islamabad.

In 2007, Ahmad Haseeb created the documentary A Music Fairy in a tribute to Hassan which was screened at Kara Film Festival and University of Ankara. In 2009, Director Faraz Waqar paid a tribute to Nazia for her work in music and making Pakistan proud.

Hassan is known as the "Sweetheart of Pakistan".[15] Hassan is still the symbol of grace, sacred beauty and innocence and is frequently compared to Princess Diana, as she was known to possess a heart of gold.[16] On 31 October 2014, Global Voices Online named her as "Young, Independent women who made a space for themselves in Pakistan Music Industry".[17] On 9 November 2014, the Delhi Pop line, showed at the TDAP's Aalishan Pakistan fashion show in Delhi paid ode to Nazia Hassan.[18]

On 16 November 2014, Coke Studio Pakistan paid a tribute to Nazia Hassan in season seven with the song "Jaana" sung by Zoheb Hassan and Zoe Viccaji. The song was well received by critics and audiences alike. The song was high on the music charts and is popular on music channels and radio stations. On 17 November 2014, Hassan was named as one of ARY News's "one of the 11 female pioneers of Pakistan."[19]


In 2003, Hassan’s parents created the Nazia Hassan Foundation to further their daughter’s efforts to make this world a better place for everyone, regardless of caste, creed and religion.

Films and Albums[edit]


Awards and honours[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Jai Kumar (23 August 2000). "Obituary: Nazia Hassan". (London: The Guardian). Retrieved 18 May 2008. 
  2. ^ a b Sangita Gopal; Sujata Moorti (2008). Global Bollywood: travels of Hindi song and dance. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 98–9. ISBN 0-8166-4579-5. Retrieved 7 June 2011. 
  3. ^ PTI (18 November 2005). "NRI TV presenter gets Hassan Award". Times of India. Retrieved 4 March 2011. 
  4. ^ "Nazia Hassan – Women of Pakistan". Retrieved 3 September 2010. 
  5. ^ "‘We’d wonder how the girls could go out with five guys who smelt so much of onions’". The Telegraph (Calcutta, India). 14 February 2010. Retrieved 12 February 2010. 
  6. ^ "Bollywood News: Bollywood Movies Reviews, Hindi Movies in India, Music & Gossip". September 2000. Retrieved 3 September 2010. 
  7. ^ Hassan, Enam. "Documentary of Nazia Hassan". You Tube. ARY News. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  8. ^ a b "Made for Nazia, sung by Alisha". Times of India. 20 September 2001. Retrieved 9 September 2011. 
  9. ^ "Nazia Hassan finally laid to rest". 7 September 2000. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "I will never forgive her: Zoheb Hassan". Express Tribune. 12 August 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  11. ^ Qamar, Saaida (12 August 2012). "I will never forgive her: Zoheb Hassan". The Tribune. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  12. ^ Nadir, Usma. "Zoheb Talks About The Trials of Nazia's Life". You Tube. Retrieved 30 July 2015. 
  13. ^ a b Bollywood.Net. "Remembering 'Aap Jaisa Koi' girl Nazia Hasan". Retrieved 13 August 2009. 
  14. ^ "Nazia Hassan: In memory of an iconic pop singer". Voice of India. Retrieved 14 August 2009. [dead link]
  15. ^ Web desk (3 April 2012). "‘Pakistan’s sweetheart’: Nazia Hassan’s 47th birthday". The Express Tribune. Retrieved 9 April 2014. 
  16. ^ "PTV CLASSICS Yes Sir No Sir". Retrieved 22 April 2011. 
  17. ^ "How Young, Independent Women are Making a Space for Themselves in Pakistan’s Music Industry". Global Voices. Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  18. ^ "Kayseria’s prêt aspirations - TNS - The News on Sunday". TNS - The News on Sunday. Retrieved 2015-07-30. 
  19. ^ "11 female pioneers of Pakistan | ARY NEWS". Retrieved 2015-07-30. 

External links[edit]