Muhammad Naseer — or Khabardaar’s Naseer Bhai as fans of the show may call him — is more than just another face on television. Having memorised the lyrics of all Indian and Pakistani songs produced between 1950 and 1980, he is indeed a veritable encyclopedia of nearly three decades worth of music. In fact, not only does the 61-year-old know the words by heart, he also remembers the names of the film each song belongs to, its cast, poets, writers, directors, producers and the release dates as well.
“I worked as a song recorder for nearly four decades to earn a living. This was during a time when there were no radios or tape recorders,” recalled Naseer, speaking with The Express Tribune. “I was young back then and my memory was quite sharp.” He also added that while Express News’ Khabardaar only requires him to reveal the singers, musicians and films of the songs, in reality, he is equipped with a lot more information.
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Unsurprisingly, many customers flocked to Naseer’s music shop daily and the running business helped keep up Naseer’s habit of constantly committing the songs to memory, along with their respective details. A resident of Yaki Gate in Lahore, Naseer received formal education up till eighth grade and never imagined being part of the showbiz industry. “The host of Khabardaar found me about five years ago and gave me the opportunity to work on the show — something I am immensely grateful for,” he said. “I am a simple man and due to the recognition I have received, people now know me around the world and request to have their pictures taken with me too. I can openly challenge, no one possesses the memory and talent I have with regards to knowing music.”
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As any film enthusiast would suggest, the 60s and 70s marked the golden era of film music on both sides of the border. Naseer agrees, claiming that he feels lucky to have been a part of it. “I have witnessed the period when good quality music was produced on both sides of the border,” he explained. “Singers like Muhammad Rafi, Noor Jahan, Shamshad Begum, Mumtaz Begum and Lata Mangeshkar made songs that are still popular, thanks to outstanding compositions and meaningful lyrics. The 80s were an era of crisis for the industry and that’s when I stopped caring. I never memorised songs that came during and after that decade.”
Considering this, it is not surprising that Naseer views himself as an expert on music data from the golden age. “There was once a time when people would make their way to cinemas because movies back then had incredible songs, but then it all went downhill,” he said. “The tragedy is that there is shortage of good people today. During the golden era, musicians, artists, singers and composers were doing exceptional work, even with limited resources,” claimed Naseer.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2016.
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