JEDDAH, 24 June 2005 — A Pakistani, employed as a manager in a major accounting firm in Jeddah, is simultaneously pursuing a career in playback singing in India’s Bollywood.
Amir Jamal, 41, who came here from Karachi 14 years ago after graduation, has had no formal training.
“I was inspired by Pakistan’s ghazal maestro Mehdi Hassan, and Bollywood’s late singers Kishore Kumar and Mukesh, and cut my debut album ‘Kaho Na Kaho’ three years ago and it became a hit worldwide,” Amir says. “My singing style is a combination of Mehdi Hassan’s ghazals, Kishore Kumar’s versatility and Mukesh’s melody.”
The album has 10 songs with the title song in Arabic and Urdu that became a megahit in Pakistan’s film industry. UK-based Movie Box released the album in cassette and CD and more than a million copies were sold all over the world. “The song’s video was shot in Turkey and became a megahit,” says Amir who is portrayed in the song as an artist painting a picture of his imagined love.
He has bagged three best playback singer awards — Sahara Sangeet Awards at the Royal Albert Hall in London, the first Asian Bollywood Movie Awards held in Dubai and the Bollywood Film Awards held in Atlantic City where he won best singer award for his song in “Murder”.
Amir is currently busy composing music for a Pakistani TV serial “Masuri”, which is actress Zeba Bakhtiar’s first production and directorial venture. “I’m composing music jointly with Nasir Hussain of Pakistan,” he said, adding that PTV is to broadcast the musical drama serial based on Sufism next month.
One of Amir’s other assignments is to prepare a song in Urdu for the UAE government and dedicated to Dubai as a city of peace. The song’s Arabic and English versions have been assigned to others.
Amir, who has upcoming Bollywood music projects with producers and directors such as Mahesh Bhatt, Firoze Khan, Bappi Lahiri and Yash Chopra, is also to release his second album “Kahin Aisa Na Ho”. This will include 10 songs, two of them with singers Abida Parveen and Tina Sani. He has plans to sing with Bollywood’s legendary singer, Lata Mangeshkar.
Urdu, English, Arabic and Punjabi are among the languages in which he performs. He also has sung a Sufi song in Sindhi written by Shah Abdul Latif Batahi with Abida Parveen.
“I’ve had excellent support from my wife,” says Amir who has two children — Khubaid and Zain. He is a professional painter and enjoys calligraphy. Bollywood’s music directors A.R. Rahman, Annu Malik and singer Udit Narayan have described Amir’s voice as “incredible”.