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Remembering a legend: Ahmed Rushdi

April 11, 2012

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For many people in Pakistan, Ahmed Rushdi sparked the beginnings of a 'Pop' scene in Pakistan. His death on April 11, 1983 at the age of 48 was a great loss in the annals of Pakistani music — today marks his 29th death anniversary.

It all started in 1966 , when he teamed up with Waheed Murad and sang “Ko Ko Korina” for the film “Armaan." It became the definitive and defining Pakistani Pop song.

Rushdi was part of the Golden Age of Pakistani film and came to be known as one of the most versatile voices in South Asia.

Born in Hyderabad in 1934, he never received any formal training in classical music he nevertheless possessed a natural baritone, but was also capable of reaching tenor notes.

He sang his first song in the Indian film "Ibrat" in 1951 and got recognition. His family eventually moved to Pakistan and settled in Karachi in 1954, where he began participating in variety shows, music programs, and children's programs on radio.

In 1954, he recorded his first non-film song, "Bunder Road se Keemari", written by Mehdi Zaheer for the popular Radio Pakistan show Bachchon Ki Duniya — the song was a hit and became the steppingstone for Rushdi's future.

The success of "Bunder Road se Keemari", opened new doors for Rushdi as he got offers for playback singing for films and quickly gained popularity. He lent his voice to many hit films like "Bara Aadmi" (1956), "Wah Rey Zamaney" (1957), "Raat Ke Rahi" (1957), "Yeh Dunya" (1958) and many more.

In 1960 he sang the song "Kisi Chaman Mei Raho Tum" for the film "Anchal" which turned out to be a great boon for his career, as he impressed composer Khalil Ahmed to the extent that Ahmed sought Rushdi for every movie thereafter.

The '60s were a challenging but productive period for Rushi as he along with the legendary Mehdi Hassan and Masood Rana were the leading playback singers of the time and competition was fierce.

Unfortuantely he suffered from health issues during the latter part of his life and died of a heart attack having recorded about 5,000 film songs for 583 released films.

In 2003, 20 years after his death, Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf awarded him the Sitara-e-Imtiaz, the "star of excellence."