LAHORE: Singer Mustafa Zahid’s career has been a strange one. While in Pakistan he is still known for being the front man of band Roxen, in India he has carved an identity for himself as a solo playback singer. As he continues to make waves across the border, at home he is yet to dominate the mainstream.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Zahid said, “People think that I charge a lot or that I don’t want to work in Pakistan. All this is incorrect.” The Tere Mera Rishta singer said whatever has been offered to him at home, he has taken up. “People don’t approach me as readily in Pakistan as they do in India.”
The musician is currently on a break in Sussex, England, where he is spending his summers playing cricket. Before leaving, however, Zahid recorded a song, titled Udaasian, for Feroze Khan and Sajal Ali’s upcoming film Zindagi Kitni Haseen Hai – one of the few local projects he has dabbled with, of late.
Roxen’s next album – which is being produced by Universal Music India – is almost ready as well, despite facing multiple delays. “It offers Roxen’s signature music, like what we did in our first album. However, our sound has matured, especially since Shahan Khan joined the band in 2010. It will have a taste of Roxen’s rock ’n’ roll, along with some Bollywood ballads,” shared Zahid. “I am a different entity in India and since people like to listen to my Bollywood stuff, I have to cater to them. Plus, albums don’t always do that well and at the end of the day, it is the Bollywood music that sells.”
Zahid will also be producing the soundtrack for an upcoming Bollywood film, along with a solo album that he hopes to release after Roxen’s.
Considering his solo escapades, one would not be surprised if that lands him in trouble with his band mates. However, the 31-year-old is blessed with a likeminded group of colleagues. “Initially, I would have to let go of many projects as I wanted to do them with Roxen. But then we decided that I would do my own thing until someone wanted to rope in the rest of the band as well.”
Unfortunately, Coke Studio remains a bit of a blur for Zahid, who is yet to make an appearance on the show, despite having films such as Awarapan, Murder 3 and Shootout at Wadala under his belt. “They spoke to my manager for the sixth season, asking me to join. But I said that if they didn’t realise that I should be on it for six seasons, then I don’t want to do it,” he confessed. It wasn’t until Strings took the reins that Zahid changed his mind but he has not been approached since.
Earlier this year, Zahid was asked to record a song titled Anjaanay Raston for the serial Mere Khwab Lota Dou but his only condition was exclusivity. “I don’t want to do the regular kind of songs. I’ll do them my way,” he stated. “You know the amount of money I charge in India? I ask 30% of that in Pakistan. The only reason I can think of for people being hesitant to work with me is that I ask for extra amounts for production. I want it to be of a certain calibre,” adds Zahid. “If you have five Bollywood songs and one Pakistani number on a playlist, our song sounds bad in comparison, even if it is a good one. Besides, you tell me, who will release my album in Pakistan?”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2016.