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Zoheb Hassan: Yesteryear’s heart-throb becomes a modern-day social activist

Zoheb Hassan: Yesteryear’s heart-throb becomes a modern-day social activist
By Saadia Qamar
Published: May 9, 2012

KARACHI: He stole many hearts with his mesmerising voice and his charming looks refuse to wear down with time.

We remember him best as part of a duo — Zoheb Hassan shares with The Express Tribune his personal experiences. From a “terrible” loss of losing not just a sister but also a performer to cancer, to his current social and philanthropic activities, Zoheb shares with us how he has seen the Pakistani music industry evolve through the ages.

Currently in Karachi on a short visit from London, we got a sneak peek at what’s dear to Zoheb.

You made a comeback by launching ‘Kismet’ in 2006, and you disappeared again for six years. What happened?

Zoheb: Well, not really. Formally nothing. We paid tribute to Nazia Hassan by holding a concert on March 9 in 2002 at the Karachi Gymkhana. The tribute was held in her honour, during a time when I felt at immense loss, after Nazia. So we did that concert, which was very inspiring for me. Junaid Jamshed performed, Salman Ahmad was there and Hadiqa Kiani too was a part of the concert. Biddu came all the way down for the show, and visited Pakistan for the first time ever. To be honest ‘Kismet’ was done because of a lot of ‘peer pressure’. However, I couldn’t give it much time, since I was travelling a lot at that time for business from Karachi to London. My wife Gina said I should do a musical theatre instead and she said she would write the script. However, what we ended up doing was a play called ‘Kismet’, for which the music was done by me.

What are your current plans?

Zoheb: I plan to host a TV show, first from Karachi, then from Dubai. It is going to be a very, very different talk show. I won’t share the details here just yet. That’s something you will have to wait and see!

Has Pakistani music evolved since you left the music industry?

Zoheb: It’s great. So many people have come up and created good music, like what we did and started off 30 years ago. Technically, I’d say everything is superb. Now they do linear editing and everything is digitally sounded. Quality is so much better. There is stuff that a composer can easily toy with when it comes to mixing it with sound.

Music and arts is all about trial and error, after 30 years people have come so far, but what I believe has been the down side of this is the actual act of composing. Songs are not fully written, since people don’t want to think too much. They just want to be spoon-fed.

How have the last 11 years of your life been without Nazia?

Zoheb: These years have been terrible, not just for me, but for the entire family. More so for my mother though. She still refers to Nazia in our daily talks. But what I believe is that we have learnt to move on, if not for anybody else’s sake, at least for her son’s sake. My father has become very quiet, he doesn’t speak much and Zahra, my little sister, asks me a lot of things about Nazia, because when Nazia passed away, Zahra was just a kid. So these things will never go away. It’s the unfortunate bit that will always be a part of our lives.

Would you like to perform at ‘Coke Studio’, if given a chance?

Zoheb: Yes, if they offer. Rohail Hyatt, I know is a talented guy. If he asks me, I won’t say no. ‘Coke Studio’ is an interesting concept.

What are your future plans?

Zoheb: I want to do, as much as I can in life, in terms of doing things. I want to help Pakistanis in need. I don’t have any political ambitions; I just want to help people on humanitarian basis. I was an advisor to the governor of Sindh with a social agenda in mind. People, who are not in the same position as we are, should be helped by those who can help. I just recently launched an SOS Lyari campaign and I had two options infront of me: either take a passive role to this and let fate play its natural course or actually work towards helping others. So I opted for the latter, with a two-fold agenda in mind: immediate relief and a long-term rehabilitation programme. I want to address this problem across the country, for there is not just one Lyari but several others.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 10th, 2012.

Zoheb Hassan: Yesteryear
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