Nazia Zuberi fans were in for a treat as a private tribute was held to honour the Bulbul of Pakistan, Nayyara Noor. A musical evening that allowed us to reminisce about the life and career of Noor and revel in her purity was truly a treasure.
My husband and I visited the venue, expecting an enjoyable evening, but were surprised – no, delighted – to have been lucky enough to have brilliant Nazia Zuberi in this tuneful soiree with a stellar line-up of melodies that literally took us back in time.
Zuberi seamlessly assumed the role of the legendary Nayyara Noor. She was clearly in her element as NN, being a seasoned solo performer. The evening proceeded to take the audience on a journey throughout Noor’s career. All of my favorite hits from PTV plays of yesteryears like Dhoop Kinarey, Teesra Kinara, Kabhi Hum Khoobsurat Thay to many popular renditions like Jazb-e-Dil and Hum Ke Tehray Ajnabee made their way into the set-list. The latter triggered the pain of the division that had become East Pakistan.
Aaj Bazaar Mein Pa Ba Jaulaan Chalo took us back to ol’ Lahore. During the performances of Tera Saya Jahan Bhi Ho Sajna, and Ghata, the audience was a room full of positive energy.
Nazia’s repertoire interestingly included the beautiful piece that Nayyara herself had covered. This is Asha Bhosle’s original in OP-Nayyar’s composition. Perhaps, this was the last song of the famous Asha-OP combination. Nayyara had exquisitely covered it and Nazia’s voice further enhanced the memories.
Speaking to the audience, Ruby Haider praised Zuberi for her majestic voice: “Nazia was a treat to listen to, from the beginning to the end. Her voice is pure and pristine and her rendition of the verse is full of expression, demonstrating her grasp of the language as well as all its delicate nuances. Her chemistry with the accompanying orchestra was singular, making it all the more wonderful for the listeners. My two companions and I were swept off our feet. It was a magical evening, indeed.”
Expanding on the same, Zuberi said, “From the time that I started to sing, and it goes many moons back, I have always admired and have been inspired by Nayyara Noor. There was an album that Electric and Musical Industries (EMI), India, released many years ago. And that was my prized possession. I knew the album from the beginning to the end. Everything that she has done in it and outside of it. I listened to it repeatedly to grasp the good sense of it. I was also inspired by how she carried herself and how she was simple and pure, which was reflected in the way she sang. She was my first, absolute, and constant inspiration. I wanted to include a little flavor of everything she had sung, whether it was Faiz Sahab, filmy geet, or nazms.” Although she felt that there were many pieces that she could’ve added to the list, of course, she had to pick.
With great music, soulful voice, thoughtfully-chosen poetry, and exquisite offerings, the evening left us nearly teary-eyed, featuring stunning performances of all the kalaams, especially with Intesaab (part narration, part singing), as Nazia’s voice flowed like painting, and Junaid Zuberi, CEO of the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA), accompanied her for narration. Each verse etched a mark and represented an era of times gone by, all the while reminding us that not much has changed in terms of the socio-economic conditions of Pakistan.
The mehfil was further sustained throughout a long show running for over 2 hours, packed with Noor’s hits, with a full live band comprising Saeed Ahmed on violin (a veteran with over 50 years as a violist), Salman Wazir on harmonium, Shehzad Hussain on sitar, Aqeel Markus Gill on guitar, and Mohammad Aslam on tabla.
The mehfil ended with a collective encore Tera Saya.
I have been to quite a few tribute acts and nostalgia shows and I will recommend all of them, but this was different from all the others. It was a piece of great nostalgic music taking you down memory lane.
Zuberi featuring the Bulbul of Pakistan was a show not to be missed. I have never had the chance to listen to Noor live during her time with us, but I cannot imagine anyone else doing such an incredible job of giving me the closest possible experience to one of Noor’s shows. This tribute was a substantial stand-in.