They may have put their musical collaborations on hold temporarily but the cousin duo, Zeb Bangash and Haniya Aslam, are not ones to sit still. Both ladies have been burning the midnight oil in attempts to forge their solo careers, with Haniya currently pursuing a degree in musical composition and Zeb trying her hand at a whole new line of work: playback singing.
After establishing herself as one of Pakistan’s leading playback vocalists in local films like Bin Roye, Ho Mann Jahaan and Manto, Zeb, for one, only seems to be rising to the top, both at home and across the border. After working with Rohail Hyatt, AR Rahman and Swanand Kirkire, she recently teamed up with Indian composer Amit Trivedi for the upcoming film, Fitoor.
Zeb has lent her vocals to two songs, Haminastu and Hone Do Batiyan, for the movie which stars Katrina Kaif and Aditya Roy Kapur in lead roles. And although she is no stranger to Bollywood, having sung for movies like Highway and Madras Café already, Zeb claims her latest innings holds a “special place” in her heart. “I really admire Amit Trivedi’s talent,” said the Chup-singer while speaking with The Express Tribune. “His soulfulness shines through every project that he undertakes, which is why I was very keen on collaborating with him.”
Even though this was the first time Zeb was working with Amit, the creative and relaxing atmosphere created by the latter helped make their partnership even more productive. “There was a lot in my experience – both musically and personally – that I could draw from and Amit knew exactly how to bring all of it out at the studio, in the most non-stressful manner,” she adds.
A Coke Studio veteran and one-time guest on the Indian music shows The Dewarists, Zeb feels that Bollywood music is constantly going through changes which, in her opinion, is imperative for such a huge industry. While it is no coincidence that this period of change coincides with the advent of shows like The Dewarists and Coke Studio @ MTV, the singer explained that for any producer to succeed, it was important that he kept experimenting with his music. “As far as evolution of style and incorporation of different styles of music within Bollywood is concerned, historically, any music director who has made a mark in this highly competitive industry has brought something new and experimental. It’s the only way to be noticed and survive,” said Zeb.
And while she feels the process of change is constant, Zeb also believes that the Indian music industry had become more receptive to independent platforms and artistes contributing to feature film soundtracks.
But even after carving out an impressive career of her own, Zeb knows it is her partnership with Haniya that fans are most eager to see. Unfortunately, she has ruled out the possibility of any such reunion in the near future and is firmly focused on her individual projects. After her impressive work in Ho Mann Jahaan, it seems highly likely that Zeb will foray into music production as well. Confirming her involvement on a few such ventures, she revealed that while she can’t reveal the exact nature of her pending projects, the current year will bring more songs produced and directed by her.
However, one thing the singer has not ruled out yet is the possibility of moving from the recording studio to the front of the camera. While several of her contemporaries have already made their acting debuts, Zeb – who actually played a blink-and-you-miss cameo in Ho Mann Jahaan – stated that she was certainly open to acting, only if the right project comes along.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2016.