Ali Haider – Pakistani Pop Singer
Ali Haider is a former Pakistani singer and actor. He has had numerous hits in the early 90s such as Poorani Jeans. He also had a big hit later in the 1990s with Chand Sa Mukhra. Besides singing, he has acted in numerous TV serials on PTV. Among the successful dramas was Chand Sa Mukhra, which used his hit song as the theme music. He also sang the theme music for the serial Chandni Raatein. He has a large fan following in Pakistan and India and with South Asian expatriates around the world.
Ali Haider grew up in the Karachi neighbourhood of Firdous Colony, and was pursuing a Civil Engineering degree at NED University when his showbiz career began.
Since the 1990s, Ali Haider has produced over seven albums of which dozens of songs were top hits and became very popular that earned him a place among the stars of singers. The first album he released was entitled “Chahat”. The album didn’t gain much popularity at the time however two of the most popular songs from the album were “Chahat” and “Ajnabi”. With the moderate success of the his first album he released his second album, Qarar, which was much better than his first. It consisted of a few good songs such as Qarar (the title song), Shehnahee and Jadu Kiya. As Haiders skills improved so did his music, his third album, Sandesa produced another batch of good songs called Purani Jeans and Sandesa. These went to the top of the charts and remained at the top for a number of weeks.
His next album, Pakola Album did moderately well with songs such as Zaalim Nazron Say and Laila making it into the charts. His fifth album, Dastaan is known to be the best album Haider has produced since his career started. It shot straight to number one and brought him great popularity at the time. In this album he produced a variety of music genre that suited pretty much anyone, the songs responsible for his popularity were Walawai, Papa Mummi and Ranjha Heer.
After some time, Haider released the album “The Best of Ali Haider”, which pretty much summoned up that he is ending his music career. The album included all his major hits and favourite songs he has produced in the past. Some of the songs included in this collection were Purani Jeans, Walawai, Qarar and Sandesa. Later he went on to released another compilation to the previous album that was entitles Saioni.
After sometime Haider released another two albums, Saaiyan and Jadu in which he has produced quite a number of popular tracks that did prove to be successful. His reputation of recent years has taken a hit after an alleged drunken romp with an upcoming model that led to police action after complaints from residents where this is alleged to have taken place.
Ali Haider grew up in the neighbourhood of Firdous Colony in Karachi, and was pursuing a Civil Engineering degree at NED University when his showbiz career began.
Since the 1990s, Ali Haider has produced over sixteen music albums of which dozens of songs were top hits and became very popular. These earned him a place among the top singers of Pakistan.
His first album was Jane Jan Sun which included the title songs of jawaniyan, and Dhoop Kinare sung along with Nayyara Noor. This album was released by EMI and is obsolete in market, however, it may be found in some collections. The 2nd album he released was entitled “Chahat”. The music was given by Bunny and a song with Sadaf Munir (now Sadaf Iqbal). That album was purchased by HMV India. Two of the most popular songs from the album were “Chahat” and “Ajnabi”.
With the moderate success of the his second album, he released his third album, titled Qarar, which was much better than his previous two albums. It consisted of songs such as Qarar (the title song), Shehnahee and Jadu Kiya, which went on to become top hits. The music was composed by Amir khan, Bunny and Ali Haider himself. As Haider improved so did his music, his fourth album, Sandesa produced the hit songs Purani Jeans and Sandesa. These went to the top of the charts and remained at the top for a number of weeks.
His next album, Pakola Album did moderately well with songs such as Zaalim Nazron Say and Laila making it into the charts. His sixth album, Dastaan is known to be the best album, Haider has produced since his career started. It shot straight to number one and brought him great popularity at the time. In this album he produced a variety of music genres that suited pretty much anyone. The songs responsible for his popularity were Walawai, Papa Mummi and Ranjha Heer.
After some time, Haider released the album “The Best of Ali Haider”, which pretty much summoned up that he is ending his music career. The album included all his major hits and favourite songs he has produced in the past. Some of the songs included in this collection were Purani Jeans, Walawai, Qarar and Sandesa. Later he went on to released another compilation to the previous album that was entitles Sayoni.
After sometime Haider released another two albums, Saaiyan and Jadu in which he has produced quite a number of popular tracks that did prove to be successful. Haider released his 15th Album in 2007 titled “Janey Do”. This album also featured three previous songs with significant modifications. The all time favourite “Purani Jeans” made a return with a hard rock format. Qarar and “Agar Pyar” from the 1993 album Sandesa were also featured.
Haider has also acted in the Lollywood film titled Chalo Ishq Larain which was released in 2002. He was also seen playing the small role of Himself in the Bollywood film Main Osama which was directed by the controversial film Maker Faisal Saif. This feature film hit the cinema halls worldwide in 2008.
His reputation of recent years has taken a hit after an alleged drunken romp with an upcoming model Neha Ahmed that led to police action after complaints from residents where this is alleged to have taken place. More recently he has quit singing.
Resignation from Music
On 23 June 2009, Geo News reported that Ali Haider decided to resign from the world of music, which was also confirmed by the former singer.
His last music album was released on the internet named Stop and Think..? in 2009 shortly after his decision to quit music. Ali Haider donated all the proceeds from this Album to Charity.
He has since then released a religious songs album in the praise of Allah (God). His latest religious Album is Moula Dil Badal Dey, which consist of Hamds, Naats and different poetry on current situation of Muslim Ummah. He is also a Noha Khwan and has released his first Noha album in 2010 Shor Hai Mehshar Ka
* Jane Jan Sun – 1988
* Chahat – 1989
* Tarang – 1990
* Qarar – 1991
* Sandesa – 1993
* Sanwala Saloona – 1994
* Dastaan – 1995
* Jania – 1996
* Mahi – 1998
* Saiyyaan – 1999
* Jadoo – 2000
* Chandni Raatein – 2002
* Tera Naam Liya To – 2003
* Purani Jeans (Remixes) – 2006
* Jaanay Do – 2007
* Stop and Think …? – 2009
* Moula Dil Badal Dey – 2009
* Shor Hai Mehshar Ka – 2010
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest man of all?” Ali Haider of course! A name that needs no introduction One of the biggest singers in the Pakistani music industry, he is what the youth of today grew up listening to. Tracks like ‘Purani Jeans’ – that every school and college-going person could identify with – made him a household name. Here we ask Ali about his Purani Jeans, his new album and make him clear out a few controversies. Here he is uncensored.
How many years have you been in the industry and how many albums have you released so far?
I started in the late 80s; I’ve been in the industry for nearly fourteen years. I’ve done thirteen albums, which no pop artist, from the time of Alamgir and Nazia and Zoheb till today, has done in Pakistan. And that, for me is a big achievement.
You’ve experimented with a wide variety of musical styles over the years, from basic pop to trance music, back to pop and so on. What is the reason for that?
I like to experiment, because if you do just one kind of music, you’ll never be able to make thirteen albums. You have to have that versatility and have to explore yourself to create something. I started off with filmi pop, then I came towards pop, then I came towards pop music, then I went a bit towards techno music – like ‘Qarar’ was totally techno. ‘Sandesa’ was a mish-mash of country and pop. Then I came up with folk music with ‘Zaalim Nazron Se’; I did soft rock later with Milestones. I like to experiment. If you don’t experiment, you’ll never grow as a musician. I don’t agree with people who say that they only listen to pop or rock music. I think they’re not unprejudiced. Music is a very vast field. When I was doing trance, I thought I’d never be able to do anything other than this. I got really thin, had spiked hair. I stopped listening to any of my old albums; I used to think, ‘Yeh mein ne kiya kya hai?’ These are just phases that everyone goes through.
The same goes for you image as well, that keeps on changing too?
Yes! Let me clear up one thing: I don’t change my image for commercial purposes; I never do something just because everyone else is doing it. I did trance music four years ago and people are beginning to understand it now. ‘Jadu’ wasn’t a major hit because people weren’t prepared for it. If I’d released it today, it might’ve been a hit.
Do you plan on re-releasing Jadu?
No, because I’m not in that phase any more. In ‘Dil Chahta Hai,’ Amir Khan’s image was totally lifted from the ‘Jadu’ video; the Indian newspapers mentioned that even the dance moves were copied from it. Our problem is that whatever comes from India, we immediately think that it’s very ‘in’ but if someone does it here, no one will pay any attention.
Did that happen when you released ‘Chand Sa Mukhra’ in India?
Yeah, even when ‘Chand Sa Mukhra’ was released here in Pakistan, people were like, ‘What kind of album has he released with the Milestones?’ They didn’t accept it the way it was. Then I went to India, launched the album there, and made a video for ‘Chand Sa Mukhra’ and it was a huge hit in Pakistan. Same goes with ‘Mahi.’
It was a remix, right?
Yes. I’m a die-hard fan of Madam Noor Jehan. I really liked the song Mahi, and sung it to pay a tribute to her. A lot of people said that I ruined the song. I said that it is just a tribute; I cannot compete with the talent Madam Noor Jehan had. That program was seen by Archies India (an Indian record label) and they called me up from India and asked me not to fritter away the song. I went to India, re-recorded the song with the musicians there, and made a video. Wherever people listen to music – especially bhangra – it shot to the top. Even now when I go on tours, people ask me to perform that song. I’ve just come back from a tour of the UK, and even though Mahi was released 6-7 years ago, everyone was screaming for it. Sometimes I feel sad that people here don’t respect the musicians and artistes here, and when they go across the border, they automatically start liking them.
The Indian videos that you did like ‘Chand Sa Mukhra’ and ‘Sayonee Mera Mahi’ weren’t very well received by the Pakistani audience due to the dancing girls, the skimpy clothes and so on. How do you feel about the criticism?
It’s weird that, even without any such intention, something like this always happens. These things have been happening from the beginning. When I first started out performing. I would be really energetic and would take off my jacket, never my shirt though, and even then people had objections. Then the band I made with Milestones – we called it Araaf; we kept the name with some other intentions. Since. Araaf is the name of a Quranic Surah too, people deduced some other meaning from the name and we had to change the band’s name from Araaf to Akash. Chand Sa Mukhra was a video! For God’s sake, the world is advancing so fast, sirf shayad aik hi scene tha jo aisa tha, and these days it’s in every video. If you show something entertaining and commercial in a good way, I don’t find that to be wrong. Even in Mahi objections were raised because there were girls dancing in it.
The ‘Mahi’ video got censored a lot too?
I got censored to the extent that nothing was left in it. But people are smart; they’d managed to watch it on channel (V) and MTV. Whenever I’ve made a video, there have always been objections raised against it. I’ve just done a video and given it to Indus and they’ve already asked me to censor it.
It’s the story of this mohalla in Lahore. There are three guys who are in love with this girl. There’s this maulvi in the video as well who has this chul as to what’s happening in the video. It’s a typical mohalla’s story. Now they’ve asked to take the maulvi’s character out. How can I do that? He’s one of the characters in the video!
Sajjad Ali said in an interview on IM quite some time ago that the Indian record labels forced him to make such videos. Was that the case with you too?
No, that wasn’t the case with me. If you look at Indian pop, no one listens to it; you just see it sometimes on TV and even then you can’t watch it with your family. Only if a bunch of guys or girls are sitting together, they might watch it. If you compare Indian pop with Pakistani pop, here at least you have a collection of maybe a few really good musicians, like Vital Signs, Ali Haider or Sajjad Ali and from the new bands, maybe Fuzon or Noori. You won’t say that only their music is good; they have to have some other quality in them as well, only then you’ll listen to them. There are a lot of pop singers in India but no one is doing good work; there is nothing there except vulgarity. The ‘Tera Naam Liya To’ video I made was to answer people who said I could only make one kind of videos. I made the entire video here and the album just went to the number 1 spot on BBC Asia with the same video and song. My whole tour was a hit because of ‘Tera Naam Liya To.’
Do you think releasing your albums in India had a negative impact on your popularity in Pakistan?
Not at all, people make negative comments, but they’ll still listen to it if it’s popular in India. This has become a weird psychological cycle here; we’ll criticize someone and at the same time go and buy his/her album.
Your music is more on the commercial side, very pop, without any theme or message, right?
My basic focus is pop. I’ve never been inclined towards the classical side either, even though there are a lot of musicians who started out doing pop but have gone toward the classical side. My basic focus and style is pop music and I want to maintain that and keep polishing the variation in me.
Do you think you” do something with a message or a theme later on in your music?
There are always one or two message-oriented songs in each album. I think I’m a very good entertainer – I know how to entertain people on stage and my performances are energetic. I might start singing more ballads, but if you’re talking about message-oriented or serious or bahut hi Allah wale gaane, that I won’t do.
You were the first musician in Pakistan to come up with a trance album. However, it wasn’t very well received. What do you think were the factors behind that?
‘Jadu’ was released before its time. At that time, trance music was relatively new in UK, it wasn’t there in India and it wasn’t in Pakistan at all. No one had done trance music in Urdu and it was a big jump from ‘Saiyaan’ and ‘Mahi’ if I’d released it now, people might’ve had an idea of what trance music is. Plus the video was very bold too. I had a very different image in the video. I used to think that as you grow old and age, you change. However, people didn’t accept that change. Everyone asks for change, but they don’t accept it. The overall colorful image, the dance steps – people didn’t get those.
The ‘Jadu’ video was directed by Babar Sheikh and had a very different feel and look. Who was behind the concept?
It was Babar’s idea. We sat down and discussed it and I told him what energy, a colorful video, but I give Babar all the credit for the way he showed it.
You worked with the band Rushk on their album. How was that experience?
Excellent experience! There’s this new song I’ve done with them as well called ‘Goli Maar.’ It’s about this place called Goli Maar near Nazimabad. I might do a video for it as well. It’s a great song. I’m very open to all these ideas that have something new in them. I worked on two songs on the Rushk album, and Uns (a member of Rushk) says that the best songs on the album are the ones that I sang. Everyone liked it a lot, even though it isn’t my style of music. But if I listen to something new, I get totally absorbed in it.
You’ve worked in some dramas and a film as well. How was the experience like?
I started working in dramas in the beginning of my career. I’ve only done five plays, just to do something different. I know I have acting skills and I can act. I’ve worked with Shaira Kazmi, Zaheer Khan, Iqbal Ansari, etc., and I did a film with Sajjad Gul, so I’ve worked with the top-most directors and they’re happy with my work. But I don’t want to do a lot of it. I keep getting offers everyday. But music is my passion. It’s nice to do it once in a while, as it’s just a branch of entertainment. One of its benefits is that you have a lot of fun doing the videos. Experiment-wise, working in films was good. For the first time I felt that working in a film is like having a 9 to 5 job. You’ll have a shift from 9 in the morning to 2 in the afternoon, and then there’s a break and another shift from 4 pm till late at night. It’s a lot of hard work. But I think the Pakistani film industry still needs time. It was good for an experimental purpose, but you can’t make it. Your career. Not until more educated and talented people enter the field.
What do you feel about corporate sponsorships, as you’ve been signed up by Pakola and Lipton as well?
In corporate sponsorship, you get a lot of benefits. Such as Lever Brothers, who worked with them, they make videos and albums at all, and the concerts, and arrange everything, so in a way it becomes easier for you. You can concentrate more on your own music on publishing your own music, which is a big job. With care companies and is organized very things because they have a wide range of agencies and to work with you. The main factor is that it should be beneficial to both parties that should not have to see his face Ali Haidar, but I was thinking of tea more than the music – there must be a balance. Put a lot of companies here a lot of products in the videos that look bad. Enough if you say that this song was sponsored by XYZ at the beginning and end of the video instead of showing it over and over again. Such as display models eating Tulsi again and again. This is something I would like Jahalat term. There is a song coming on TV. Do you want it and then you see them eating chalia and start hating him. What is happening everywhere in the videos, which is sponsored by showing only the product for a few seconds, and in a manner very precise.
True. Even Vital Signs started out, they used to have very subtle shots of Pepsi?
Exactly. Now you see a guy picking up Tulsi from the floor, seeing the girl and falling in love. It’s not right. And you should hear the budgets of these videos. It’s insane. Like 40-50 lakh, jahalat hai. The directors are ripping off the sponsors as well. No one is serious. The directors think, ‘Tulsi’s sponsoring the video, let’s rip them off.’ They know the budgets of the videos and they make fools out of the sponsors. With 40 lakh, you can make 4 good videos that are of an international standard. The problem is that a lot of people who have money don’t have brains.
I heard that Lipton changed its policy and canceled this contract with you and Hadiqa?
No, nothing of the sort. It was a contract for 2 years, and then they renewed the contract for one more year. Lipton has 3-year themes: these days they have a family theme which will run for three years; before us, they had Nazia and Zoheb Hasan for a three year campaign as well. In their campaign, you sign a contract for two years, and if both the parties agree, the contract is extended for another year. In our case, we signed a two-year contract, and because the campaign went so well we extended the contract for another year.
When Lipton sponsored you and Hadiqa Kiani, rumors were rife about the two of you being involved. Was there any truth to those?
Hadiqa and I are still great friends. Hadiqa was married at that time, so there was no point in it. She’s a very nice girl and I respect her a lot for that. I know the way she used to work. To stay clean in this industry is a very hard job and she did it. I’ve known her for along time. She went for her first tour of the UK with me, and even then I really liked her. After Nazia Hasan, she was the one female artist whom I really liked there was something new in her voice, in her songs, we did a lot of tours together, and then coincidentally, we got the Lipton deal together as well. So a lot of people made up stories that we were having an affair, although there was nothing of that sort. When the news of her divorce came in the papers, people said that she got divorced because of me; I won’t say anything about Hadiqa, because she’s a friend and I respect her.
You were recently at the centre of a controversy regarding a party at your friend’s place involving a couple of models and yourself. What do you feel about it now?
I don’t have grudges against anyone. That’s one quality I have, thank God. Whoever planned that thing, it didn’t make a difference to me whatsoever and I’ve become more popular. Those who didn’t recognize me have started to recognize me now, so even negative publicity helps. At that time, I was really shocked. I think I don’t even do 5% of what those people who indulge in such activities here, especially in the showbiz industry, do. I’ve tried to be careful throughout my life. Whatever happened, whatever the motive behind it was, it wasn’t successful. It was just a news item that was played up by newspapers for a little while, and those who wanted to become popular with this news did. I thought that I should leave this country for a while. I’ve experienced a lot of fame but nothing like this. I used to go out of the house and 50 people would turn around to look at me. It was so different from anything I’ve ever experienced. But I’m more popular now, people want to see me perform more, my tours are going well; I’ve just come back from the UK and am going to Canada. USA, India and Dubai. I like to party a lot, but I don’t party as much as it seems I do. I go around, really happy and laughing. A party for me could just be an evening sitting with friends and watching TV, or talking to my family, so a lot of people get really jealous of me. I think that was one of the reasons behind it, which is why people were watching me for some time, noting what the timings of my coming and going were. It was a bad period, but when I look back, I feel I’m a really strong person now. Only I know what it felt to be the centre of attraction with the press waiting outside your home. Whenever I went out, people stared at me with this question in their eyes, asking if it was true or not. I didn’t leave my home for a month and used to wonder what I did to deserve this. Maybe there was something good in it from Allah. – I take it that way. After going through that time. I feel so strong. I think I can handle anything now. That was a chapter in my life that’s passed.
Ali Haider Pictures