She has an iconic, low sultry voice, immortalised in the song Behti Naar, first as a release through Rushk’s debut album and later as the soundtrack of Mehreen Jabbar’s serial, Malal. But as iconic as the voice was, the singer was nowhere to be found — in Pakistan at least, until recently. The woman behind the voice, Nazia Zuberi Hassan, moved abroad soon after Behti Naar first came out and relocated to Karachi only a few years ago and has been recording with various artists and producers on and off since then.

Naina is her first track as a solo artist. And it has to be said, it’s rather disappointing. Although the singer mentions on her YouTube channel that the song was recorded “some time ago”, it sounds very dated. One expects much more from a singer whose repertoire of work includes some of the most avant-garde, experimental collaborations of its time.

The song starts off with a gentle electric guitar riff moving into a typical pop-rock domain very reminiscent of the early days of Indus Music. If Naina had been released back then, it might have been passable. It’s one of those songs you listen to, don’t entirely hate (Nazia’s voice is melodious after all) and forget when it stops airing.

Nazia Zuberi Hassan’s first solo effort, Naina, is a predictable easy listening track. She can do better

The main chorus goes:

Jagay na soye yeh naina,
Teray bina raat bhar.
Beetay kissi pe yeh reina,
Teray bina raat bhar.

[My eyes are restless,
Without you all night.
May no one go through this,
Without you all night.]

The song starts off with a gentle electric guitar riff moving into a typical pop-rock domain very reminiscent of the early days of Indus Music.

Suggesting that the lyrics and melody (the song has been composed and produced by Kashan Admani) are predictable would be an understatement. It’s easy listening without any real hooks. The lyrics are by Sabir Zafar, who’s written countless pop songs. Perhaps it’s time he too gets himself an update. It’s like everyone who worked on this is stuck in a time loop. From almost 15 years ago. We’re in a different decade now.

Nazia Zuberi Hassan can do much better. She must.

Published in Dawn, ICON, September 13th, 2020

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