“I’ve been a struggling musician for nearly nine years now,” reflected Nouman Javaid. “I’m a self-taught musician with no professional training whatsoever.”
Javaid is the unsung Pakistani star of the Indian movie just out, Jashnn (The Music Within), whose music score has everybody talking these days. The film produced by Mahesh Bhatt and also starring Humayun Saeed recently had a select showing in Karachi. While they many not have liked the film overall, critics and audiences are nothing short of praises for both Sayeed and Javaid.
Originally from Lahore, Javaid’s journey has been long, tedious and at times frustrating as door after door was shut on him. His disappointment at not being able to find work locally echoes the frustrations of the many struggling musicians of Pakistan who are not given the chance or trust to make their mark. Finding no luck locally, he was advised to set his sights abroad. His first reaction was, “Why should I work abroad when I can work for and within Pakistan?” Then through a chance conversation with a friend he got his hands on Mukesh Bhatt’s phone number. He placed a call to the producer who told the young singer to email his song to him. A week later, Javaid got a call from the Indian producer, telling him that he loved it. When Mahesh Bhatt next came to Pakistan to promote his film Jannat, he met the young singer of the song Dard-i-Tanhai.
“When I met Mahesh, he asked me if I had any other songs and I told him about Mein Challa. He asked me to sing it to him right there and then. I sang it maybe six or seven times as each time he asked me to sing it again. Then he called up his brother right there and then and told him that he was taking my songs for Jashnn.”
Having struggled for nine years, Javaid was overwhelmed with Bhatt’s response. The floodgates had literally opened for him and he traveled to India where the songs were recorded. “They trusted me, they believed in me,” gushed Javaid, adding, “I just went in and recorded the songs as they were.”
He couldn’t believe how open and trusting they were, “I wasn’t taught by them, I wasn’t told how to record the songs, I just went in and did my thing and that’s very different from the reaction that I got in Pakistan where every single record company wanted me to record a particular song in a particular manner — something I’m not ready to do even now.”
Having delivered two popular songs — and that too across the border — he has now recently recorded his debut album. “I’m just waiting for the right deal,” he says about the complete change of attitude of record label executives. “They’re all now calling me up for a change, asking me to come over and bring my album to them.” For the moment, he hasn’t made up his mind who will release it, which by the way might or might not feature Dard-i-Tahnai and Mein Challa.
The once struggling Nouman Javaid is now well on his way to what might be the pinnacle of his career. He is open to collaborating on music, starring in movies and even appearing in commercials. “I have a few offers, but I’m not going to talk about them just yet.”
The one thing that I’ve also learned about him is that you can expect anything from Nouman Javaid. His initial songs reflect the hardship he felt upon the constant rejection of being a struggling musician in Pakistan. Now, since his luck has changed, what can we expect from his music? “To be honest, I don’t know. What I do know is that you’ll be hearing my album very soon and my fans can judge it.”
Speaking of fans and criticism in particular, Nouman is quite particular about both topics. “I always ask my fans to tell me what they think of my songs, of my singing.” And of criticism, “I appreciate well thought out criticism, to help me become a better singer. I don’t think anybody appreciates unfounded criticism.” Whatever the case may be — criticism or not — Nouman has fans on both sides of the border and even beyond. Through the course of his career he has struggled a lot, but now that he’s finally arrived on the scene, Nouman’s determined to stay.